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[Book Review] "Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up A Wizard" by Tom Felton

Delve into the life of Tom Felton, Draco Malfoy himself, in this beautiful memoir.

By Meg IlsleyPublished 2 months ago 5 min read
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SYNOPSIS:

From the magical moments on set as Draco Malfoy to the challenges of growing up in the spotlight, get a backstage pass into Tom Felton’s life on and off the big screen in this #1 New York Times bestseller.

Tom Felton’s adolescence was anything but ordinary. His early rise to fame in beloved films like The Borrowers catapulted him into the limelight, but nothing could prepare him for what was to come after he landed the iconic role of the Draco Malfoy, the bleached blonde villain of the Harry Potter movies. For the next ten years, he was at the center of a huge pop culture phenomenon and yet, in between filming, he would go back to being a normal teenager trying to fit into a normal school.

Speaking with great candor and his signature humor, Tom shares his experience growing up as part of the wizarding world while also trying to navigate the muggle world. He tells stories from his early days in the business like his first acting gig where he was mistaken for fellow blonde child actor Macaulay Culkin and his Harry Potter audition where, in a very Draco-like move, he fudged how well he knew the books the series was based on (not at all). He reflects on his experiences working with cinematic greats such as Alan Rickman, Sir Michael Gambon, Dame Maggie Smith, and Ralph Fiennes (including that awkward Voldemort hug). And, perhaps most poignantly, he discusses the lasting relationships he made over that decade of filming, including with Emma Watson, who started out as a pesky nine-year-old whom he mocked for not knowing what a boom mic was but who soon grew into one of his dearest friends. Then, of course, there are the highs and lows of fame and navigating life after such a momentous and life-changing experience.

Now with a new chapter Felton delves into his experience of fame, Beyond the Wand is an entertaining, funny, and poignant must-listen for any Harry Potter fan. Prepare to meet a real-life wizard.

GENRE: Non-Fiction; Memoir; Autobiography

PUBLISHED: October 18, 2022

RECEPTION: Positive (4.7 on Amazon; 4.31 on Goodreads)

CONTENT WARNINGS: None

REVIEW:

Beyond the Wand is a memoir written by Harry Potter alum, Tom Felton - Mr. Draco Malfoy himself - which, like all memoirs, focuses on his life in and out of show business (albeit with a heavy emphasis on his time as part of the Harry Potter cast in later chapters). As someone who has been an avid Harry Potter fan since I was ten, this book was one I was desperately looking forward to reading and I can say I am not at all disappointed that I did, even if many of the earlier stories were already revealed by Felton on the Normal Not Normal podcast with Fred and George Weasley themselves, James and Oliver Phelps.

Unlike most memoirs, much of Beyond the Wand is not dramatic or scandalous; it could almost be considered mundane. However, the entire book details Felton's inner most thoughts - about other people, about show business, about himself. He does not shy away from mentioning when he did something wrong or where he was less than perfect, and he does not play it off as if he was always in the right. The way he talks about the people in his life in hindsight is always with an air of "I adore this person and value what they taught me" which may, to some readers, come off as him censoring himself. However, having listened to the way Felton speaks of his other people in his life, I feel it is quite genuine.

Felton does what so few people are afraid to do in this memoir; he's not afraid to make himself look bad by highlighting his faults and he's not releasing a story that is sensationalised. He highlights a side of show business that is different from what other people have experienced, he highlights the way people can change (and the ways in which they don't), and he talks about his journey whilst acknowledging that he was very lucky to be in the position he is in. Of course, the Harry Potter references throughout the book show that Felton is just as in love with the series now as he was when it was popular. It is interesting to see how he went from someone who didn't care to someone who adores this fan community.

Beyond that, Felton does an excellent job speaking of mental health and its effects on people - as well as how easy it should be to speak about it. He approaches it in the way one should: by destigmatising the conversation and highlighting that we shouldn't be treating conversations around mental health as negative.

The pacing in the book can be a little off at times - which can be a little jarring when reading (but which I found less of an issue when listening to a few chapters via audiobook). However, I think this adds to the aesthetic of 'this is me, telling my story'; it reads very much like an old man sitting down and telling his grandchildren of his life, and I think that is beautiful (and appropriate for Felton). There is no gossip, not really, and there is no unfair or exaggerated criticisms of his fellow actors, which I think to be a refreshing change from most memoirs, but there is a lot of talk of change and of becoming a better person, of learning from your mistakes.

This is a must read for any fan of the series and highlights the beautiful person Tom Felton has become over the years. He may have been a bad boy or a jerk or a foul, loathsome, evil little cockroach on screen, but Tom Felton is a genuinely beautiful person now, and like Draco Malfoy he went through a necessary metamorphosis and made a choice to change.

FINAL RATING: 4 stars; would recommend

PURCHASE: Available on amazon.ca, amazon.com, and in most major bookstores.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Thomas "Tom" Felton is an English film, television, theatre, and commercial actor best known for his portrayal of Harry's nemesis, Draco Malfoy, in the movie adaptations of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter fantasy novels. Born in Epsom, Surrey, UK, Felton began his career acting in television commercials before landing a role in the 1997 movie The Borrowers.

Since Harry Potter ended in 2011, Felton has appeared in numerous movies and television shows including The Flash, Labyrinth (2013), and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and appeared on Normal Not Normal, a podcast hosted by fellow Harry Potter alums, James and Oliver Phelps. He currently lives in London with his dog, Willow, and has been working on his music.

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About the Creator

Meg Ilsley

Born in Australia, I moved to Canada in 2013 where I live with my four cats and two snakes. I have a Certificate in Creative Writing, am pursuing a Diploma of Graphic Design, and am an amateur author. Find me on Goodreads or Instagram.

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