An original fairy tale: Read a review of The Ickabog by J.K. Rowling

An original fairy tale: Read a review of The Ickabog by J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling’s newest story first appeared as an online daily serial, free to readers all around the world. Known by billions of people for the Harry Potter series and various spin offs, J.K. Rowling has a huge fan base, who embraced the story and the spirit of generosity in which it was shared. 

J.K. Rowling originally conceived this fairy tale more than a decade ago and read it to her small children as a bedtime story. As the devastating impact of the global pandemic rolled out across the world she felt that perhaps she could offer something to entertain children, parents, and carers. She retrieved the dusty filing box from the attic and discussed with her children the possibility of sharing The Ickabog with the world. 

Now teenagers, her children gave her a positive response and so she revitalised the manuscript and, in the process, satisfied the many, many fans who have been clamouring for “the lost manuscript”. J.K. Rowling has been dropping hints for years that such a thing existed. Nerd alert: some of us would remember when J.K. Rowling wore a gorgeous evening gown with a mysterious manuscript written on the fabric. This is that story!

To be very clear, this is not Harry Potter. The world is an entirely new invention with new characters and a mysterious myth about a fearsome monster called “The Ickabog”. It is set in Cornucopia, the happiest kingdom in the world, where everything is perfect. Adults tell tall tales about the mythical Ickabog to scare children into behaving. However, this myth starts to take on a life of its own, and when the foolish king begins to trust the wrong people, all sorts of calamitous events unfold. 

Soon the kingdom is in peril and the people live in fear. Is the Ickabog a myth? Could poor judgement and greed bring a kingdom to its knees? Everything is spiralling out of control.  Two children emerge as leaders, though their path will not be easy, and they will need help from some very surprising allies. Can trust and kindness triumph over self-interest and fear? 

This book is written in the vernacular of a traditional fairy tale, utilising the norms of the genre but with a few modern twists. The narrator really does “tell” the story, so it is perfect for reading aloud. 

When I opened the delivery box, the beautiful presentation of this edition bought a smile to my face! It is a hardcover book, with a matte dust jacket with gold embossing. There are coloured endpapers, a foreword by the author, a contents page, coloured chapter headings and, most gloriously of all, 34 full colour pages featuring illustrations by children from the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and India. 

J.K. Rowling invited children to send in their illustrated interpretations, responding to the story as it unfolded in the online serial.  These 34 illustrations are the winning entries in the competition and I’d particularly like to mention that there are six young Australians among the winners, selected from over 18,000 entries. Well done Grace, Mahli, Sofia, Ella, Jordyn and Erica! 

Before I began to read the book, I took the dust jacket off (of course) and was delighted to find that the cloth cover is foiled and the spine is embossed foil also. Also delightful is that royalties from this book will be donated to assist vulnerable groups who have been particularly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Ickabog will be a cherished gift, a collectible for J.K. Rowling fans, perfect for read-alouds to children 7+ and a “must have” for independent fantasy readers aged 10+. 

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Publisher details

The Ickabog
J.K. Rowling
Children’s Fiction
10 November, 2020


The Ickabog is coming... A mythical monster, a kingdom in peril, an adventure that will test two children's bravery to the limit. Discover a brilliantly original fairy tale about the power of hope and friendship to triumph against all odds, from one of the world's best storytellers. The kingdom of Cornucopia was once the happiest in the world. It had plenty of gold, a king with the finest moustaches you could possibly imagine, and butchers, bakers and cheesemongers whose exquisite foods made a person dance with delight when they ate them. Everything was perfect - except for the misty Marshlands to the north which, according to legend, were home to the monstrous Ickabog. Anyone sensible knew that the Ickabog was just a myth, to scare children into behaving. But the funny thing about myths is that sometimes they take on a life of their own. Could a myth unseat a beloved king? Could a myth bring a once happy country to its knees? Could a myth thrust two children into an adventure they didn't ask for and never expected? If you're feeling brave, step into the pages of this book to find out... A beautiful hardback edition, perfect for sharing and gift-giving. Brought to life with full-colour illustrations by the young winners of The Ickabog Illustration Competition.
J.K. Rowling
About the author

J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling is the author of the much-loved series of seven Harry Potter novels, originally published between 1997 and 2007. Along with the three companion books written for charity, the series has sold over 500 million copies, been translated into over 80 languages, and made into eight blockbuster films.Originally written by J.K. Rowling in aid of Comic Relief as a Hogwarts textbook, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them became the inspiration behind a new and original five-film series for Warner Bros., the first of which was released in 2016. The second film in the series, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, was released in November 2018.J.K. Rowling has collaborated with playwright Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany on a stage play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which opened in London's West End in 2016 and on Broadway in 2018, and will have further worldwide openings in 2019.J.K. Rowling also writes the Cormoran Strike crime novels, under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. The fourth in this series was published in autumn 2018. The Strike books have been adapted for television for BBC and HBO television by Bronte Film & Television. J.K. Rowling is also the author of The Casual Vacancy, a standalone novel for adults, published in 2012.

Books by J.K. Rowling


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