Author J.K. Rowling has a brand new fantasy book titled The Ickabog on the way! The Harry Potter author made a post on her website explaining what the new novel is and the unique way it will be released. Rowling will be posting the book for free chapter by chapter online, in the hopes of encouraging children stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic to read.
Rowling assured fans that The Ickabog is not connected to her seminal Harry Potter series. That being said, it is connected in a way, since Rowling "wrote most of a first draft in fits and starts between Potter books, intending to publish it" after she completed the series. Instead, she put it aside to work on other projects, never really intending to publish it at all. Rowling did read the book aloud to her children, however, and said that it meant a lot to her family — making it that much more touching that she is now sharing it with the world.
Over time I came to think of The Ickabog as just for my family. The manuscript went up into the attic, where it remained until a few weeks ago.
This is the very dusty box I got down from the attic.May 26, 2020
(It's a Net-A-Porter box and might well have held a premiere dress.)
"I came to think of it as a story that belonged to my two younger children because I'd read it to them in the evenings when they were little, which has always been a happy family memory," she explained. When she asked her children how they felt about her publishing it, after all, Rowling said that they were "touchingly enthusiastic," so she has revised it for release. The process brought her family together all over again as she read her newly-polished chapters to her kids.
Rowling is also excited about publishing the novel bit by bit in this way, explaining that the story "lends itself to serialisation," likely because of the way she read it out loud to her kids. She intends to publish "a chapter (or two, or three)" every weekday between Tuesday, May 26 and Friday, July 10 until the whole book is out there online.
The book will be published by more conventional means in November, and Rowling is giving young fans a chance to get involved in that process. She is encouraging fans to submit to an illustration competition for an opportunity to have their fan art included in the published product this fall. Rowling will also be donating the royalties from the book to COVID-19 relief efforts.
As for the book itself, Rowling wrote that "The Ickabog is a story about truth and the abuse of power." Beyond that, not much is known about the content, though Rowling said it is appropriate for any age, and a child between the ages of 7 and 9 years old should be able to read it on their own.