This has been an incredible summer for Harry Potter fans, who have enjoyed the opportunity to read and see on stage a new chapter in the magical story series.
On the occasion of author J.K. Rowling’s 51th birthday, millions of fans celebrated the release of a bonus chapter in the heart-wrenching adventures of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Penned by playwright Jack Thorne and released in script form, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child picks up nineteen years after the final novel with a new generation of witches and wizards.
While many Potter fans (myself included) miss Rowling’s unique wordplay and dry, witty dialogue, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has still generated intense worldwide interest, even breaking sales records. In the UK itself, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child sold upwards of 680,000 print copies in just three days.
Many bookstores around the world, including those in the Delaware, held extravagant Harry Potter parties leading up to the midnight release. Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach celebrated from 10pm well into the next morning. One Browseabout employee lamented the fact that she would be spending her day “watching every else run off to read the book” until she could finish her shift and grab a copy for herself. Although I didn’t personally brave the crowds, I enjoyed watching the wide range of costumed fans filing out of Royal Treat on Wilmington Avenue with their wands in one hand and ice cream in the other.
For me, the most brilliant part of the Harry Potter phenomenon, besides the story itself, is the community Rowling built through her books. In line for my copy on Sunday morning, it was hard not to grow nostalgic watching kids all dressed up in Hogwarts robes, beaming ear to ear, excitedly clasping their parents’ hands in anticipation for the next book they would likely read together. Almost more notably, in a world as violent as ours has been lately, it felt incredible and important to watch people from completely different backgrounds – ethnicity, age, race, gender – come together to grow their connection to a story that centers around the preeminence of love and friendship.
Previews of the play began at London Palace Theater in June and continue to play to sold-out audiences. While facing up to a year-long wait for tickets might be frustrating, be aware of reports that theatre staff are refusing entrance to anyone with tickets that have been resold.
Disappointingly to almost all Potter fans, Rowling revealed that the two-part script will be the last in the epic stories of the wizarding world of Harry Potter. In an interview with Reuters at the play’s opening, she commented, “I’m thrilled to see it [the Harry Potter play] realized so beautifully, but, no, Harry is done now.” However, there is no doubt in my mind that Harry Potter will continue to be enjoyed by readers and audiences around the world for years to come.