Harry Potter has had a profound effect on my life. It was my childhood. It was my favorite thing. When the final book came out, and then the final movies came out, I was sad. Just like that, the story was done. Sure, there was Pottermore, but it never really resonated with me. I wanted the prose; I wanted the stories.
Fast forward to July 30, 2016. I work at a bookstore. I’m helping set up for the release of the official eighth Harry Potter story. I feel like a child again; the magic has returned. The part starts at 10:00 pm; I’m counting down the seconds, dressed in my robe, with the store key in hand, waiting to let hundreds of eager Harry Potter fans, old and young, into the store to partake in a celebration of all things Harry Potter.
Nine years after the final story was written, the magic has returned. Even writing this, I can feel genuine tears threatening to fall, I have that lump in my throat, the very same I get when rereading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the umpteenth time.
Fast forward again to seconds before midnight. Everyone’s crowded around, counting down. The clock hits 12:00 am and I crack the first box of books and people go nuts. We hand out hundreds of copies to fanatic children and adults, eager to go home and revisit old friends, to meet new ones.
Fast forward again. I’m at my apartment with my girlfriend. It’s 2:00 am and we’re seated at the dining room table, drinking beer, delving into this play, this story, and I can’t stop turning the pages, I can’t stop smiling and laughing and feeling. This is something I’ve needed for nine years; it’s something everyone has needed. I decide that, once I’ve finished Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I’m going to re-read the entire series from start to finish. I’m going to be a kid once again.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a thrill. It’s an adventure and an absolute delight, and I encourage everyone to read it. Read it with enthusiasm, but go into it knowing that the story and tone will be different. Yes, the story was conceived by Rowling, but it’s important to know that the play contained in those pages was written by Jack Thorne, who did a marvelous job. Know you’re reading a play. Know that you’re reading a story meant to be presented in 4-6 hours on stage. Know that it is going to be different.
But know that it’s still Harry Potter; that it’s still Hermione and Ron and so many others.
Know that these stories will always be there to welcome you home.