J.K. Rowling’s latest book was released last week, and critics have responded with mostly positive reviews.

The Ickabog, a children’s book based on a story Rowling used to tell her own kids, is her first book for young readers that doesn’t involve the world of Harry Potter and Hogwarts.

A reviewer for Kirkus called the book “gripping and pretty dark,” noting that Rowling “frames her story as a set of ruminations on how evil can grow and people can come to believe unfounded lies.”


At the Evening Standard, Amanda Craig praised the book, writing, “The Ickabog won’t just be put under every lucky child’s Christmas tree: it is a monster hit that deserves to be.”

Meghan Cox Gurdon of the Wall Street Journal concurred, calling it a “rollicking read” with the illustrations—which Rowling crowdsourced from children—“beguiling.”

At the Telegraph, critic Jake Kerridge was more measured, calling the book “a fun but lightweight fairy take that lacks Harry Potter’s magic.”

It’s as yet unclear whether Rowling’s recent incendiary statements about transgender people will affect the book’s sales. The author has faced criticism from supporters of trans rights, including some of the stars of the Harry Pottermovies, for comments that have been widely seen as hostile to trans people.

As of Wednesday afternoon, The Ickabog was the No. 36 bestselling book on Amazon, with an average customer rating of 4.7 out of five stars.

Michael Schaub is a Texas-based journalist and regular contributor to NPR.