Pottermore: Not as Spellbinding as Anticipated


Parisa Mirzadegan

Photo by Emma Krenzin

Confession time: I was one of those Harry Potter geeks who woke up at ungodly hours last summer to try to catch the “magical quill” that would grant me access to Pottermore, the website that promised to enrich my Harry Potter experience and sate the need for magic in my life after the movie series ended.

Basically, the “Magical Quill” challenge consisted of getting up way too early in the morning (time-zones) in order to be one of the first to answer a trivia question about the books, which was posted on the site within a given time frame. Answering the question correctly led you to a chance to be one of the 1 million lucky fans granted early access to the site during its beta period. All you had to do was have a borderline-unhealthy knowledge of the wizarding world, which is no problem for a lot of us.

I was finally declared magical on August 4 at 10:35 am after having been up for hours continually refreshing the page. I went a little bit crazy with excitement upon reading “Congratulations! You have found The Magic Quill!” and I still have the scratches from my cat to prove it (she’s not a huge fan of celebratory hugs). Now all I had to do was wait to be allowed into the site.

So I waited. And waited. And then I stopped waiting around October, when the expected date for entry came and passed. Cue the flashbacks to 11-year-old me checking the mail daily for the acceptance letter to Hogwarts that never came. Come September, when I was finally granted entry to the site, I was already let down by Pottermore; but like a true fan I logged on as WingQueen177 (add me, we can duel), eager to explore the magical world of Harry Potter.

Now I like to think I’m a pretty tech-savvy person, but this website is really confusing. For something that had just told me I was magical, it still managed to make me feel inadequate. Maybe the problem is that I’m not thinking as British as I should be, but back in September, struggling to navigate Pottermore was enough to make me log off and vow to never return.

But I, of course, couldn’t stay away for long. After seeing various posts about Pottermore on Facebook, I decided to give the site another try and hosted an impromptu nerd-gathering. This made me feel a lot better about my apparent incompetence in the magical world, as cries of “Why is this so confusing?” and “It crashed again!” echoed through my small dorm room. Admittedly, the design of the website does create a mysterious atmosphere characteristic of the wizarding world, but the resulting frustration makes for an unpleasant experience.

At last, I navigated my way to the chapter where I would be sorted into a house at Hogwarts. I sat at my computer and eagerly I took the placement quiz, anticipating the red and gold of Gryffindor, or at least the blue and yellow of Ravenclaw. I’d even settle for Sytherin.

Not Hufflepuff, not Hufflepuff.

I felt like Harry during the sorting ceremony. But apparently the sorting hat doesn’t favor its non-celebrity witches and wizards, because it placed me in Hufflepuff. Yes, I am now a not-so-proud badger.

Rivalries developed among my friends as everyone was sorted into their respective houses. Conversation soon escalated to comparisons of wand size and slurs against Hufflepuffs from elitist Gryffindors. Pottermore essentially turned my room into the United States Congress.

From the excessively long beta period to the unnavigable website, and not to mention the disappointment of being sorted into an unwanted house or the animosity created by house divisions, Pottermore is a bust. It sounds great in theory, but in reality it’s just J.K. Rowling’s hasty appeasement of wild fans begging for an extension of the series.

Being a Hufflepuff is great and all, but for now, I’m just going to stick to re-reading the books to get my Harry Potter fix.