[Review] Potterless, where less is more

In these past few months, I have had the incredible luck of forging a new and deeply rewarding friendship that began because of a mutual love for the Harry Potter series.

These best-sellers remain some of my most re-read novels and while the magic never fades, I have, on occasion, wondered what it would be like to read them afresh. Enter Potterless: a Harry Potter podcast hosted by Mike Schubert, a 25 year old who has never read the series before.

While the podcast world has an innumerable selection of HP podcasts at your disposal, they all pale in comparison to the enthusiasm, snark and passion of Potterless. Named in an attempt to mock the official fan site, Pottermore, Potterless‘ pilot episode reveals its intention to pick apart the story and dethrone it from its lofty perch. Much to the comical chagrin of his guests on the show (who are HP fans), Mike offers irreverent yet humorous comments on the plot, expounds on his dissatisfaction with alliterated names, and continuously reiterates his hatred for Quidditch being a sport. For a die-hard fan, it seems unimaginable that the beloved series is poorly written, but Mike combs the story line by line to find its flaws. Yet, he does admit that he is, after all, a grown man critiquing a children’s book.

Slowly but surely, the podcast grows on you

Perhaps the podcast may offend a few but for the most part it mocks good-naturedly and is quite entertaining. Listeners get to vicariously experience fresh shock at plot reveals while simultaneously cringing at Mike’s ineptitude in understanding something obvious. Thus, slowly but surely, the podcast grows on you. You find yourself defending the books as you listen or laughing at a ridiculous scene that you completely overlooked as a child. Furthermore, you notice that what began as a podcast to critique, turns into a podcast that celebrates as the story gets richer. The host’s predictions for the storyline get wilder and before you know it, you have fallen for the podcast (and Mike for the series) hook, line and sinker.

For the few (and outnumbered) non-HP fans, this podcast is a window into the hype and a quick way to test whether the books are worth the read (YES!). As for the rest of us, 1 September is not too far away and Potterless gives us all a chance to board the Hogwarts Express anew. If you do decide to listen though, I would offer a word of caution: ensure that you are free enough to binge because, I assure you, that is inevitable.

Pooja Ramakrishnan is studying MSc Environmental Engineering and has recently joined the Delta team as their book and podcast pundit. A science student during the day and a poet by night, she balances the two with her curiosity and fascination for the world we live in.

Pooja Ramakrishnan / Freelance journalist

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