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J.K. Rowling Is Releasing a New Kids’ Book Online For Free, But Don’t Get Too Excited.

It is not — we repeat, not — part of the Harry Potter universe.

Little Brown Books/Getty


That’s the note J.K. Rowling included, between lines of 44 asterisks each, at the beginning of a Twitter thread announcing her latest project. While doubtlessly disappointing to the diehards who will only be happy if Rowling pumps out Potter content until the end of time, it’s good news for the rest of us.

Rowling’s thread announced The Ickabog, a standalone fairy tale she dreamed up while writing Harry Potter that she originally intended to publish after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Those plans were derailed by an extended break from publishing, two novels for adults, some controversial revisionism, and a decision to step away from children’s books.

While never made public, Rowling did read the book to her kids, keeping it something of a family secret until a few weeks ago, when she (literally) pulled it down from the attack and started to ponder publishing.

After some rewriting in the last few weeks, it’s here. Well, the first two chapters are here, available to read and share freely on a website created for that purpose.

Rowling will publish more of the book on the website every weekday between May 26 and July 10. The book tells “a story about truth and the abuse of power,” themes that Rowling points out are timeless but, nevertheless, feel particularly prescient now.

After its first life as a series of blog posts, The Ickabog will make its way to print, eBook, and audiobook formats in November, with illustrations for each chapter provided by kids who enter a competition. Each publisher will choose different illustrations, so the US and UK versions will be different, as will those eventually published in other languages.

You can read the first two chapters of The Ickabog here.