Merry Christmas, Harry Potter fans! J.K. Rowling has rewarded her avid Pottermore Christmas riddle-solvers with some new writing (finally!) on day 10, the first new content since day 6's information about vampires at Hogwarts. And for those of you expecting happy, merry holiday content, let's just say Rowling decided to take another path.
But first, the riddle:
In the cave when Harry and Dumbledore try to escape,
They are surrounded by zombie-like monsters by the lake,
But can you remember the name of these creatures,
Who have white cloudy eyes and corpse-like features?
- I see that "escape," and "lake" rhyme, and I'll let it go this one time, Rowling.
- If readers don't remember, the answer is spoiled in the top right corner of the page.
- Of course we remember! They haunted our nightmares well after reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince!
Well all remember these horrifying creatures, (spoiler!) the Inferi. And when we type it in and click through the first image, we are transported into the horror movie-esque scene of Harry and Dumbledore attempting to escape from Lord Voldemort's Inferi. And if you click in the right place, Rowling has loads of all-new background information about these non-zombies for us.
An Inferius (plural: Inferi) is a corpse that has been reanimated by a Dark wizard's curse. It becomes a grisly puppet, and may be used as an expendable servant by the Dark wizard in question. ...
The spells used to reanimate a human body are much more complex than those used, for instance, to make inanimate objects fly.
Rowling goes on to describe the benefits and limitations of using Inferi, but next is where it gets really creepy:
The Inferi whom Harry and Dumbledore encounter in the depths of the lake in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince were, when alive, mostly vagrant, homeless Muggles whom Voldemort had murdered for the purpose during his first rise to power, although some were the earthly remains of wizards or witches who "disappeared" without explanation.
Umm ... merry Christmas!
Well, that should make us readers all feel a little more sorry for the Inferi. But Rowling has more, and it's behind-the-scenes scoops on her process writing about these characters, which shows just how much thought she puts into each and and every element of her series, no matter how small.
I had several good reasons for not wishing to call the guardians of the locket Horcrux "zombies." Firstly, zombies are not part of British folklore, but associated with the myths of Haiti and parts of Africa. While students of Hogwarts would learn about them, they would not expect to meet them walking down the streets of Hogsmeade. Secondly, while the zombies of Vodou tradition can be nothing more than reanimated corpses, a second but related tradition has it that the sorcerer uses their souls, or part of their souls, to sustain himself. This conflicted with my Horcrux story, and I did not wish to suggest that Voldemort had any more use for his Inferi than as guards of his Horcrux.
Seriously, she thinks of everything. So much applause. And there's one more reason, and it's my favorite.
Lastly, zombies have been represented and reinterpreted on film so often in the last fifty years that they have a whole raft of associations that were of no use to me. I'm part of the "Thriller" generation; to me, a zombie will always mean Michael Jackson in a bright red bomber jacket.
Rowling goes on to explain how she decided to name the Inferi, but we're all just so happy there's new writing for Pottermore Christmas that we're too busy jumping up and down to fully comprehend all of it just yet.
Images: Giphy (2)