Lethal White vs Crimes of Grindelwald

Three quick notes on the Grand Canyon-esque chasm separating Potter fandom interest in Robert Galbraith’s Cormoran Strike novels and J. K. Rowling’s collaborative contributions to Warner Brothers’ Fantastic Beasts film franchise:

(1) Rowling re-tweeted a new contest for an autographed copy of Lethal White on her twitter feed to 14.4 million followers. One thousand of those followers ‘liked’ the idea. She re-tweeted a fan art contest for Fantastic Beasts and five times as many liked that idea, a contest with no prize other than being exhibited. Contact with The Presence and an heirloom book, essentially zero interest and five times the interest for Show-and-tell online? Bizarre. The Robert Galbraith twitter feed has 62.3K followers and CormoranStrike, a StrikeFans twitterer, has less than 7k. FantasticBeasts? 452K.

(2) Serious readers get that Cormoran Strike is not only unadulterated Rowling at her best but in many ways a continuation and commentary on Harry Potter. Constance Grady at Vox goes so far as to call the series a “Grown Ups Harry Potter.” The pathetic online sales for Lethal White, even allowing for Amazon’s tiff with Hatchette Group, the publisher of the Strike series, reflect that this is not at all the opinion of Rowling’s gazillion Wizarding World fans, most of whom seem to be unaware that Robert Galbraith is a Rowling pseudonym.

(3) Check out the YouTube video below about the second Crimes of Grindelwald trailer. After watching it, ask yourself: “What if this kind of frenetic interpretative energy and attention to every detail were focused on Cormoran Strike and the possibilities of what will happen in Lethal White and subsequent novels in that series?” I think that my individual efforts at unlocking Galbraith’s larger story are significant; I know that if Potter fandom were to actually read and join in the speculative adventures of Cormoran Strike, however, that ‘Heroin Dark Lord’ would only be one among several challenging theories.

My tentative conclusion?

Strike remains the biggest secret in the Rowling universe. It is the neglected step-child of global Cursed Child productions, anything Crimes of Grindelwald, and even of Wizarding World theme parks news.
And I doubt the release of Lethal White will change much, frankly.

The engorgement charm size of Strike 4, how much its plot depends on the first three books, and reader’s continued distraction with other Rowling projects means that it will sell less well than Career or Silkworm even after the BBC1 promo shot in the arm.

How many reviewers, for example, after the three year lag between Strikes 3 and 4, do you think will be able to get what is going on in Lethal White in terms of the back story? If Rokeby and Charlotte appear, what will that mean to readers who haven’t been looking forward to that since Cuckoo?

Not much, I’m guessing. I look forward to reading your more optimistic view – and any ideas you have about the Mystery of the Invisible Famous Author!


  1. Kelly loomis says

    I am one big Potter fan. And not the sort who goes overboard on merchandise, shipping, fanfiction etc I am a book purist and get annoyed every time I watch one of the films.

    I have started the Strike series and only gotten half way through the second book. To me, it is too real. Even though FB is going to get darker, it’s still a fantasy world. Reading the HP books took me into a world that I could find attractive. Many Potter readers grew up with the books and it is a part of their growing up – Maturing themselves as the books’ themes matured and got darker.

    The wizarding world intrigued and delighted fans. Themes, structure and Rowling writing magic abounded in a place that was removed from real life. So many people read to escape and take themselves to another world and reality. Strike, to me, is just too real.

  2. PostPotter Reader says

    For the fourth time I’ve had to ask my local library to order a Strike book! I love British mysteries, and I have loved this series. It’s too bad it’s not too popular, I agree.

  3. The biggest takeaway I’ve gotten from the muted reception of the Strike theories boils down to the following:

    Ultimately, it appears that it will take more than the presence of any traditional symbolism in a work of fiction to draw in audiences. Perhaps this has more to do with the way the current zeitgeist is oriented. Right now, the fantastic genres (i.e. Fantasy and Sci-Fi) are the “fashionable” clique at the moment. When I use the term “fashionable” I do include possible negative connotations. You have consider a hidden possibility behind all the numbers. What I mean is, would so many viewers (how many in that list are actual readers?) try to dissect a single frame of film is the Wizarding World itself performed the way Strike is doing? I personally doubt it.

    I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t a wheat versus chaff situation. If the franchise lost its popularity, I think you would be able to tell who the real fans are based on how many are left when all the other so-called “fans” have moved onto the next big thing; and the one after that, and the one after that, one to the other, one to the other…”And so it goes”.
    I also think a certain amount of fan bias might play into it. Consider what would happen if a Strike fan walked into a room full of Potterphiles. You’d have a room full of everyone dressed as their favorite character. Then, all of a sudden, in walks this guy from out of nowhere. He’s not dressed like a character. This guy, instead, wears tattered blue-jeans, engineer boots, a black motor-cycle jacket, and long straggly, shoulder length hair; and darn it if there isn’t a joint tucked behind one ear, and a picture of Joey Ramone emblazoned on his shirt.

    I wonder what kind of stares that Strike fan would draw from Potter fans. For the longest time the idea that Potter fans might respond to Strike fans with a kind of “Inner Ring” prejudice is something I’ve wondered about. Here’s an even better question. Based on the generic description I’ve given, does such a character pose some kind of threat, or is he harmless?

    Either way, listeners should put Glenn Frey’s “Smuggler’s Blues” on the soundtrack in order to get in the mood for this next adventure. “The Game’s Afoot”.

  4. Another place this shows up:
    I do most of my reading via audiobook. It’s only been over the last couple days that Audible has finally made available pre-ordering for Lethal White, with almost no advertisements on the site. Compare that to next month’s Pottermore publication A History of Magic which has had front page adverts on Audible and pre-orders already available for several months now. For a while I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get the Lethal White audio when it was released. I just preordered it. 🙂

  5. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    In how far might it be that the Fantastic Beasts films are in direct (prequel) continuity with the HPs – however annoying it is that there are no novel-analogous authoritative (source) texts?

    In how far does viewership ‘sales’ of the first FB compare with original cinema and disc releases of the HP films?

    Are people less interested in ‘mere’ films (with problematic ‘screenplay’), even though there is direct continuity and authorial input?

    In how far has JPR or J. Murray or however one wishes to designate her made herself off-putting as a public figure?

    To the extent of killing interest in new work?

    But less thoroughly in new work in direct continuity with the HPs?

    An HP fan with zero interest in the FB films just spoke to me in terms of another example of ‘killing the franchise’ or however best to express that (we have not discussed the possible interest of the other novels).

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