When I first read Quidditch Through the Ages by "Kennilworthy Whisp," one of the schoolbooks Harry Potter and his cohort are said to have read and studied at Hogwarts, I wasn't too impressed. Quidditch was never one of my favorite aspects of the Harry Potter books, although I do have quite the fondness for some of the lady quidditch players, especially Ginny Weasley and Angelina Johnson. But the history of the sport didn't interest me, so I only gave it three stars on Goodreads.
Still, it sounded like fun to listen to the new audiobook version read by Andrew Lincoln, available through Pottermore. It has sound effects and bonus material, namely new writing by J.K. Rowling. It consists of 21 tracks, of which the first 12 are the actual text of the book.
Andrew Lincoln has a lovely reading voice. I can imagine it's the voice Edgar Linton used to read bedtime stories to baby
The audiobook's bonus tracks also feature the voice of Imogen Church as Ginny Weasley-Potter (reading bulletins she wrote for the Daily Prophet as a Quidditch World Cup correspondent) and Annette Badland as Rita Skeeter (gossiping at the World Cup finals).
A portion of the proceeds from sales of this audiobook go to charity, so I didn't feel bad at all about paying the $16 to Pottermore. One charity is the Lumos Foundation, which helps support families who might otherwise give their children up for adoption, since it's normally in a child's best interest to stay with their birth family whenever possible. Its goal is to reduce the number of children who live in the world's orphanages. The other charity is Comic Relief UK, which supports poverty alleviation projects.
The first track of this book is an introduction by Albus Dumbledore. Dumbledore describes the process of borrowing the Hogwarts library's copy of Quidditch Through the Ages from librarian Madame Pince, who was not keen on letting the book be released into the muggle world. Lincoln reads this chapter in the voice of elderly Dumbledore. It's amusing, but I'm glad he doesn't have to use this voice for the entire book.
This chapter relays the recollections of early quidditch play recorded by Gertie Kettle at Queerditch Marsh. Andrew Lincoln's Gertie Kettle voice is one of the funniest parts of this book.
Lincoln pronounces "patent" with a long A. It's the most British thing I've ever heard, aside from perhaps Benedict Cumberbatch's guest appearance on The Simpsons.
...which is, of course, a parody of Love Actually, in which Andrew Lincoln plays would-be wife-stealer Mark.
In the 12th track, Lincoln reads the biography of Kennilworthy Whisp and the book's "reviews" from in-world celebrities such as Rita Skeeter. The best of these reviews, in Lincoln's reading, is from Gilderoy Lockhart. He might have been brilliant at playing Lockhart, had he been given the chance. (No offence to Sir Kenneth Branagh.)
History of the Quidditch World Cup
In this bonus material, track 13, Lincoln does Viktor Krum's Bulgarian accent, and this is very cute. You'll be happy to know that Viktor is still playing competitive quidditch at the age of 38.
Quidditch World Cup 2014 - First Round Matches (Track 15)
The match between Chad and Lichtenstein seems like it will never even, and Imogen Church's Ginny sounds sufficiently exasperated at the seemingly-endless play. Church's real accomplishment, though, is pronouncing the many multi-ethnic names required of her here. In this bonus chapter we learn that Viktor Krum has come out of retirement to play again at the age of 38 and that he's the oldest player in the tournament.
Quidditch World Cup 2014 - Rita Skeeter's Gossip Column (Track 18)
Skeeter is a notoriously unreliable narrator, and she's clearly jealous of Ginny. Should we believe her when she reports that Harry, age 34, has some streaks of gray in his black hair?
Rita Skeeter is certainly a character one loves to hate; I'd have some words for her over her snark about Hermione's hair or her speculation about why Charlie Weasley is still unmarried. (He's probably just asexual.)
I hope she's correct in her assessment that Bill and Fleur's daughter Victoire and Harry's godson Teddy Lupin are taking every available opportunity to sneak off to a dark corner and snog.
Quidditch World Cup Final 2014 - Live Match Commentary (Track 20)
Rita Skeeter and Ginny Potter perform the live match commentary together (with a brief introduction narrated by Andrew Lincoln). It's the most highly-enhanced track as far as sound effects. Harry, James Sirius, and Lily Luna are rooting for Viktor's Bulgarian team in the finals, but Albus Severus is rooting for Brazil. They're sitting with Neville Longbottom.
Skeeter also gives us a vivid description of Luna Lovegood's wedding dress when she married Rolf Scamander (grandson of Newt Scamander and Tina Goldstein): "Rainbows, spangles, and a tiara of silver unicorn horns." It sounds awesome.
Will Viktor Krum finally walk away with a Quidditch World Cup trophy on his third attempt? If he does, will Ron still be jealous of Hermione's teenage crush on Viktor? Will Ginny jinx Rita to get her to shut up? You'll have to listen to find out.
And the 21st and Final Track...
...is only the credits and a little spiel about Pottermore, read by Andrew Lincoln.
If you're not the biggest fan of sports/quidditch, you won't find this the most interesting of J.K. Rowling's books. It certainly relies much less on traditional mythologies than, say, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The voice actors' performances are enjoyable, but not so amazing that they can hold your attention if you're simply not interested in the material. But if you're like me and you feel compelled to read all of J.K. Rowling's books, you're going to listen to this anyway. And you should, because the proceeds are going to a really good cause.