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The long-awaited Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them comes to theaters in November, but before you enroll, you’ve got some required reading.

The movie, as you know, is a sort of prequel to the Harry Potter series, taking place 70 years before Harry arrives at Hogwarts. Not only that but it’s also set in New York, where a whole other magic tradition has led to the establishment of the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA), the American equivalent of the Ministry of Magic.

Still with us? Good.

To help bring us up to speed, author J.K. Rowling has penned a series of four original stories detailing the development of magic in North America and released every day this week on the Pottermore website.

Tuesday’s story (“Fourteenth Century – Seventeenth Century”) gives us an insight into how Native American magicians operated through the 14th and 17th centuries, using plant and animal magic without wands; in Wednesday’s installment (“Seventeenth Century and Beyond”), we discover how the Salem Witch Trials claimed the lives of several innocent witches and wizards, as well as many equally innocent No-Majs, the American word for “Muggles.”

Thursday’s (“Rappaport’s Law”) covers a kind of civil war in the magical community, while today’s entry (“1920s Wizarding America”) brings us up to date, or at least up to the 1920s, when British wizard Newt Scamander (played in the movie by Eddie Redmayne) arrives in New York, carrying a briefcase full of dangerous magical creatures.

In December the teaser trailer gave us a taste of what’s to come.

(Don’t know about you, but we’re getting t-shirts made of the phrase “just a smidge”.)

Fantastic Beasts promises a brand-new wizarding world, where the old and new traditions come into conflict. Whereas Harry Potter was rooted very firmly in Britain and British folklore, bringing many a British actor out of retirement (not to mention for a few of them their first big break), this spin-off is populated by an international cast, including Colin FarrellSamantha MortonRon PerlmanJon VoightWe Need To Talk About Kevin’Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston (Steve Jobs) and Dan Fogler (Kung Fu Panda).

Excited? Us too. In the meantime, though, you’ve got an assignment to do.

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By Kat Sommers
Kat is a freelance writer for Anglophenia.