By now, millions of readers across the world are familiar with the tone and voice J.K. Rowling used to approach the main Harry Potter novels, which makes the experience of reading Botnik’s take on the series that much more unnerving. It sounds like Rowling’s writing voice, but it reads like the ravings of a mad person.
Harry Potter and the Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash is an all-new, unofficial, “continuity-agnostic” chapter of the series generated entirely with predictive keyboards that had been taught syntax based on Rowling’s actual books. The result is a somewhat nonsensical, but also totally plausible story in which Harry, Ron, and Hermione sneak up on a gang of Death Eaters in Hogwarts, challenge them to battle, and end up saying some very weird things to one another. It’s difficult to describe just how... off the chapter is; it’s easier if you just read an excerpt for yourself:
“Voldemort, you’re a very bad and mean wizard,” Harry savagely said. Hermione nodded encouragingly. The tall Death Eater was wearing a shirt that said ‘Hermione Has Forgotten How To Dance,’ so Hermione dipped his face in mud.
Ron threw a wand at Voldemort and everyone applauded. Ron smiled. Ron reached for his wand slowly.
“Ron’s the handsome one,” Harry muttered as he reluctantly reached for his. They cast a spell or two, and jets of green light shot out of the Death Eaters’ heads. Ron flinched.
“Not so handsome now,” thought Harry as he dipped Hermione in hot sauce. The Death Eaters were dead now, and Harry was hungrier than he’d ever been.
Here’s another section that has entertained the io9 staff immensely:
The three compete friends zapped onto the landing outside the door to the castle roof. They almost legged it, but witches are not climbing. Ron looked at the doorknob and then looked at Hermione with searing pain.
“I think it’s closed,” he noticed.
“Locked,” said Mr. Staircase, the shabby-robed ghost. They looked at the door, screaming about how closed it was and asking it to be replaced with a small orb. The password was “BEEF WOMEN,” Hermione cried.
You can tell that The Portrait of What Looked Like a Large Pile of Ash shares some degree of linguistic DNA with Rowling’s actual writing—it sounds very much like a copy-edited mishmash of the words and phrases she became comfortable with using to bring her characters to life. At the same time, though, you’d never expect Rowling to write the phrase “beef women” or for any of the Hogwarts students to actually use hot sauce, so the whole thing’s a bit of a mindfuck.
Depending on how you look at it, that can be either a good thing or a great thing. You can read the entire chapter here and decide for yourself.