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Rowling responds

BOOKS | Author depicts toxic fandom in new book

Rowling responds
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They say novelists should write what they know, and J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, has done just that with her latest novel, The Ink Black Heart. It’s the sixth installment in the mystery series she’s written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith about the grizzled detective Cormoran Strike and his plucky sidekick Robin Ellacott.

After someone murders Edie Ledwell, the creator of a popular fantasy cartoon, Cormoran and Robin make their first foray into cyber investigation. Edie seemed to be the victim of dissatisfied fans, and the clues to solving this mystery are found in an online game and scattered across social media.

Rowling writes from her own experience with toxic fandom. She supports the political left, but in June of 2020, she drew the ire of many who formerly adored her when she affirmed the reality of biological sex and suggested the trans movement tended to erase women.

The backlash was swift. Former fans of Harry Potter accused her of ruining their childhoods with her “hate” speech. Websites devoted to everything Harry Potter criticized her. She received numerous death threats via social media from trans activists. But Rowling has reaffirmed her position repeatedly over the last two years, and The Ink Black Heart reads like a doubling down.

The book reflects the abuse Rowling has received, depicting rabid fans who turn against the ­creator of the thing they love. Rowling exposes the entitlement mentality found in fans who start to believe the stories belong to them and not the author.

The Ink Black Heart is not an easy book to get through, but it contains less grotesque sexual violence than a previous book in the series. Still, foul language is pervasive, and Cormoran is a womanizer—though he’s so emotionally damaged he doesn’t see it. At 1,024 pages, The Ink Black Heart is about twice as long as it needs to be. And this installment will disappoint fans of the Strike novels who want new developments in the romantic tension between Cormoran and Robin. Their relationship gets stuck in a holding pattern.

But it’s Rowling’s story, so she can write it however she wants.

Collin Garbarino

Collin is WORLD's Arts and Culture Editor. He is a World Journalism Institute, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Louisiana State University graduate, and he teaches at Houston Baptist University. Collin resides with his wife and four children in Sugar Land, Texas.



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