Albert Whitman’s Associate Editor Kristin Zelazko joins us for this week’s #FridayReads! Take it away, Kristin!
I resisted at first. No, that’s not true. I resisted for a very long time. But then I landed a job in children’s publishing and wanted to do some research. My sister’s eyes lit up when I asked to borrow her copy. She had been reiterating the merits of the series to me for years. Despite her praise, despite my love for all things British, I thought muggle was a stupid word.
But somewhere between the cupboard under the stairs and the hut-on-the-rock, my heart melted. I had become a Harry Potter fan. Now, every year around this time, I long to visit the Three Broomsticks for a butter beer, ideally with a cozy sprinkle of snow falling outside and a book to keep me company. Since the Harry Potter series wrapped up years ago and Hogsmeade does not really exist, I turned to The Silkworm, the follow-up to The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith—aka J. K. Rowling—for company this holiday season.
The Silkworm is not like a warm mug of butter beer. It will not spread holiday cheer. There’s some grisly gore in there. Rowling wants you know this is not a story for children.
I’m not much of a mystery reader because grisly gore makes me lightheaded. But then I wasn’t much of a fantasy reader when I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. So I wouldn’t trust anyone but Rowling to navigate the genre of contemporary crime fiction with. Or rather, I only read it because I love J. K. Rowling. The Silkworm centers on the disappearance of an eccentric writer prone to wearing theatrical capes and PI Cormoran Strike’s search to find him.
The eccentric writer’s latest manuscript has been leaked, complete with some very unflattering portrayals of London’s literary community—and a highly sensational ending. Even more sensational is Cormoran’s discovery of the novelist’s body…in an imitation of the manuscript’s highly sensational ending. Oh my.
This is a murder-mystery to be sure, and a page-turning one at that, but it’s really just a vehicle for what Rowling does best. She deftly fleshes out a cast of characters who are all utterly flawed. (Her realistic portrayal of young wizards—ha!—is what I love best about the Harry Potter series.) The characters of The Silkworm are so believably human almost everyone is a plausible suspect.
Without giving too much away, the clues are there all along. Once I finished the book, I found myself rereading much of it for the things I missed the first time.
In short, I liked it very much. Enough so that I’ve forgiven J. K. Rowling for the end of The Casual Vacancy. And for the word muggle.