J.K. Rowling once said: “no story lives unless someone wants to listen.” Now it seems that if the name “Harry Potter” is attached to a story, everyone wants to listen. The nostalgia factor is clearly at work, with the Boy Who Lived having been a fixture in so many childhoods.
It would seem as if Rowling also can’t let go. But Rowling did not write “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” released to the public on Saturday. This newest edition to the Harry Potter canon is the script of the West End play, published in book-form. Though Rowling oversaw the play’s plot, it was written and crafted by playwright Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany. “Cured Child,” which opened on the West End recently and is already having a sold-out run, is a five-hour, two-day long experience beginning with the epilogue of the last book. It features Albus Severus Potter, Harry and Ginny’s son, famously named after two of Hogwarts’ headmasters. But no spoilers: those who have already seen the play leave with special buttons, proclaiming “#KeepTheSecrets”.
Those lucky enough to get their hands on the book will inevitably spill these secrets all over the Internet. Not every fan was so fortunate, however. At the book release event at Book Culture on Columbus Avenue, there were not enough books to go around, as those who wanted to be one of the first to walk away with a copy were encouraged to pre-order it online and pick it up in-store at midnight, on Harry Potter’s birthday.
“We are anticipating a big crowd,” said Cari Kilbride, a manager at the bookstore. “It’s kind of hard to let go of that nostalgia. ... This is a chance to go back to growing up with it.”
A collection of Harry Potter fans had gathered outside to wait before the 10:30 p.m. reopening. One, John Gabriele, a college student, expressed not only excitement, but also gratitude.
“I never thought there would be an eighth book. As a kid, I could never go to any of these [midnight book releases], but now as an adult I get to have that experience,” Gabriele said. “Harry Potter was a big part of my life growing up. It changed my childhood. If it wasn’t for J.K. Rowling, I wouldn’t have gotten into college.”
With the diverse age range of the Potter fanbase in mind, the festivities consisted of something for everyone.
At the Book Culture event, there themed snacks and drinks, a photo-booth with decorations and props, trivia, a raffle, and coloring for the kids.
Along with the fun and games, there was the essential costume contest. Diana Zorek, a young fan, dressed up as Harry’s best friend, Hermione. Meanwhile 47-year-old Becky Rumayor of Queens, and her 7-year-old son, James, donned a different sort of costume. “I couldn’t find Harry Potter costumes, so I bought Star Wars costumes,” James said. He was as Darth Vader for the occasion.
Despite the difference in dress, the mother-son duo was anticipating the book release. “We have the collection of all seven,” she said. “I ordered him the box set, and we’re up to chapter 11 of the first book – he’s very excited!” As for the mother herself, she also has a Harry Potter history. “In my adult years the books and movies came out. I read the first one in college.”
Book Culture’s Columbus Ave store sold 100 copies of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in store on the day of release, with about 80 preorders reserved. Though the story of Harry and his friends may have come to a close, it doesn’t seem that his magical fanbase will be dwindling any time soon.