I think Harry Potter & the Cursed Child was the first book that I pre-ordered, waited for midnight for the download to begin, and started reading that very same night. I didn’t finish it in one go, but was done by lunchtime the next day, and my feelings on it veer from one direction to the next depending what mood I’m in. I did love the story, because seeing how the next generation interact with each other is fascinating, and throw in elements of time travel, and I’m on board.
But of course, I agree with the reviewers who have concerns about the depth of the characters, some of the changes in how they behave that don’t make sense, and that it feels more like fan fiction than a solid addition to the HP canon. We can’t forget that it’s a play first and foremost, however, so I will reserve full judgement until I’ve seen it on the stage.
What this post is actually about, after getting that out the way, is JK Rowling’s ambiguous declaration that Harry Potter’s journey has come to a close. At the premiere of the play in London, she said: “He goes on a very big journey during these two plays. I think we’re done. This is the next generation, you know, so I’m thrilled to see it realised so beautifully. But no, Harry is done now.”
Of course, the internet went crazy after this. Does she mean nothing else from the wizarding world ever? Is it just that Harry Potter is too old now and it’s time for Albus and Scorpius to take centre stage on their own?
Either way, it raises some interesting thoughts. I imagine JK said similar things after finishing the final book, but here we are, so many years later, and the mania around Harry Potter hasn’t died down a single iota. A play, more films, even more ebooks sharing stories from Hogwarts previously published on Pottermore, there’s an endless world that Rowling has created which means it must be incredibly hard just to close the door.
It’s similar to Star Wars, in that the universe that it takes place in is so large in scope, there’s room to continue the main story, have branched off films and books, and still leave the fans wanting more. George Lucas has taken a step back from the recent adventures, handing the reigns (or selling them, I suppose) to Disney. Until humans figure out the secret behind immortality, it makes sense to do what you want to do with a franchise and then hand it on to the next generation. It means losing control, but it means the genius ideas that you have created not only live on but are expanded to continue to bring joy to consumers.
I wonder whether, eventually, Harry Potter will take a similar path. Rowling was initially intensely protective of her works, they were only released for Kindle on the strict understanding they were sold through the Pottermore website. Now the books are available on most platforms , the new ebooks were out for preorder on iBooks the moment it was announced. She’s drafted in playwrights and directors to help her expand the universe to the stage and screen, and other writers are getting to put their name to official Harry Potter works.
I suppose the difficulty is, you have created something just so very indescribably special and you want to keep control of it to ensure it remains in tact. But equally, at some point it grows larger than just one person. How that plays out for Harry, and indeed for the continuing Star Wars saga, will be interesting to behold.