J.K. Rowling might have hundreds of millions of dollars and be one of the most beloved authors in the world, but I don’t envy her for having to follow-up the Harry Potter series. Since that finished, her literary output has been consciously separate from it, going so far as to publish under the pen-name Robert Galbraith and release mystery books targeted at adults without fantastical elements.
But now she’s just announced a new story: The Ickabog. This was first written back in the mid-2000s while she was working on the final Harry Potter books, though is not a part of the Wizarding World. Her original plan was to publish it after The Deathly Hallows, but she instead shelved it and decided to shift her focus. In a series of tweets, she revealed the existence of the story, that the only people to have ever heard it are her children and that it’s now going to be released for free online.
The Ickabog will be dished out in weekly chapters each Tuesday on a dedicated site. Chapter 1, King Fred the Fearless, was posted yesterday, introducing us to the magical land of Cornucopia. The chapter sets up Cornucopia’s bucolic towns, villages and food and it seems pretty pleasant as far as fantasy kingdoms go.
Early indications appear to be that the good-natured King Fred is destined to be betrayed by his friends Lords Spittleworth and Flapoon, though we end with a mysterious mention of “the legend of the Ickabog.” Who or what an Ickabog is remains unknown, so we’ll have to wait until next week’s chapter for more details.
Right now, it sounds like a charming story aimed at younger readers, though anyone familiar with the Harry Potter books will know that just because a story starts simply doesn’t mean it can’t get complex later. Plus, as with any Rowling property, you can bet that studio execs are going to be keeping a very close eye on The Ickabog‘s popularity to see if it could be adapted for a movie.