FantasticBeasts introduced us to a whole new side of the Wizarding World: earlier, American and far stricter about wizard-muggle relations than what we saw in Harry Potter. We also discovered new aspects of magic itself, like the strange creatures within Newt’s charmed suitcase, and the deadly parasitic force of the Obscurus. And the charming and courageous Queenie Goldstein expanded our knowledge of Legilimency, that is, the magical ability to read someone’s mind.
Queenie’s not the first Legilimens we’ve encountered, however. Back in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Severus Snape revealed himself to be a moderately skilled Legilimens, in order to train Harry in Occlumency — that is, the ability to protect one’s mind from invasion. At the time, Snape claimed:
“The mind is not a book, to be opened at will and examined at leisure.”
The statement rang true enough — especially for the No-Maj reader that (probably) has zero hope of ever peering into another person’s thoughts without permission. But then, a few years later (or 70 odd years earlier, depending how you think about it) we meet Queenie, a skilled empath that could do exactly what Snape claimed could not be done: Read people’s minds like open books.
One fan tweeted to #JKRowling, asking for some clarification on the subject, and the mistress of magic was kind enough to reply.
So there you have it! Queenie was simply more naturally gifted than Snape in that area, and thus didn’t have to work quite as hard to reach a higher level of skill — although even she’s not above making mistakes from time to time.