Because J.K. Rowling has apparently been feeling generous this holiday season , she promised to release 12 new Harry Potter stories during the month of December. The first appeared on Pottermore today; all you have to do is log in and answer a rhyming riddle to read a brand-new story. When I first saw the riddle, I thought it would be a piece of cake:
In a house on Spinner’s End, a meeting takes place, a mother begs help for her son, tears on her face. Agreeing to help, though he doesn’t know how. Which potions master performs an unbreakable vow?
However, after typing "Snape" and "Severus Snape" into Pottermore, I became pretty frustrated. Is this a trick? Am I spelling Severus wrong? Nope, I just had to pay attention to the fact that he's called the "potions master" in the riddle; it's "Professor Snape."
The story, though I hesitate to call it a "story," is about the fictional town of Cokeworth, the town where Spinner's End is (where Snape and Narcissa made the Unbreakable Vow), and where Harry stayed with the Dursleys in a hotel in the first book. However, in the three-paragraph description of the town, Rowling reveals that it is also where Severus Snape, Lily Evans (Harry's mom), and Petunia Dursley all grew up.
Rowling describes the town as industrial and distinctly unmagical, and she speculates that this is why Vernon Dursley might have chosen to escape there. However, she also says that Lily "turned into a talented witch in Cokeworth," suggesting that it's maybe a little more magical than the Dursleys suspected.
It's not much, and I was a little disappointed by the brevity and dryness of the piece, especially considering all the difficulty I had with the riddle. However, I suspect that Rowling will be more generous as we get closer to Christmas, hopefully giving us the narrative equivalent of a Firebolt on the day itself. This story, I'd say, is closer to receiving a pair of Uncle Vernon's old socks.