The Wizard’s Book Of Spells * Beatrice Phillpotts (isbn 1402709528 * 2004)

The Dutch translation of this book just came out under the title “The Book Of Magicians, the world of conjurations, rituals and magical powers”. What a strange book! It is released extremely luxery. It is more than 10×10 inches in size and comes in a hard ‘pillow’ cover with very luxery printing as you can see above. The book is stuffed with images and references to Harry Potter, so when my girlfriend got a review copy we said: “ah, children’s book”. Paging through it, it proves to be not really a children’s book. I doubt Harry Potter teenagers will be able to make much sense of it. The text is too hard for them (I think) and requires some background knowlegde. Terms like “Kabbalah” or “Rosicrucians” are given without any/much information. But, when you are familiar with this matter, the book will work on your nerves, because it is stuffed with stupid mistakes and odd generalisations. Thoth and Hermes are the parents of Hermes Trismegisus (p. 20). The Corpus Hermeticum would have consisted of 42 books of which the Tabula Smaragdina is the most important (p. 20). John Dee used a “selfinvented” language called “Henoch” to summon angels (p. 22). “Members of secret magical orders, such as the Rosicrucians, conducted more and more complex rituals in the 17th and 18th century and consulted esoteric magical manuals for instructions how to conjure the most fitting demons and angels.” (p. 26). And these are just a few examples.

So, what audience would this book be meant for? I think maybe parents of Harry Potter kids and maybe also the more grown up Potter kids who want to read something after the Potter books. I wouldn’t advice this book to those kids though. Personally I think this is just something that will end up on the shell of youngsters going through their Harry Potter period and want something ‘extraordinary’ to read. But then, at Amazon, this book is $ 20,-, not cheap, but the Dutch translation costs no less than E 30,-! I think you better spend your money on Harry Potter books themselves then… This book might have been nice if the writer had done some descent research and written a bit more readable and not jump from subject to subject and write things through eachother. Some structure would have been nice. The book can appeal to an audience that seems quite large (when you see how many of the Potters are sold!), but it can at best trigger curiosity. And then the (probably) young readers will be ill-informed… I am afraid that this book will only look nice and be fun to page through, but to read…? Maybe it is not meant to be read.

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