The “Boy Who Lived” is now the Man Who Lives Again.
Harry Potter is back — as a middle-aged bureaucrat at the Ministry of Magic in a new book called “the eighth story” in the wizarding series that captured the imagination of the world. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two” — as shrouded in mystery as previous stories — will go on sale at 12:01 a.m. on July 31.
With the launch of the new, original tale from J.K. Rowling comes the return of midnight release parties at bookstores across Long Island and around the country. The 320-page book, which retails for $29.99, is the script of the play of the same name that opens in London’s West End on July 30. The book is already No. 1 on the Amazon best-seller list while still in preorders, and local stores say they’ve had hundreds of reservations from members of a new generation too young to remember Harry hysteria when the seventh book was released in 2007, as well as adults who grew up with the boy wizard.
“People have been waiting so long for something else to come out, and I think that’s what’s making everyone excited,” says Barbara Turney, manager at the Barnes & Noble Lake Grove store.
‘YEAR OF POTTER’
The book — released on Harry’s fictional birthday — isn’t the only new material in store for Potter fans. Coming to theaters this fall is a Warner Bros. movie called “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and the subsequent publication of the movie’s screenplay.
“This is kind of the Year of Harry Potter,” says Andrea Roberts, children’s and teen librarian at the Westhampton Free Library in Westhampton Beach, which is celebrating “Harry Potter Week” beginning July 24.
The “Cursed Child” play by Rowling in collaboration with Tony Award-winning director John Tiffany (“Once”) and playwright Jack Thorne has been in previews since June 7. On social media, Rowling has urged fans to use the hashtag #keepthesecrets and refrain from revealing spoilers. What is widely known is that the plot involves Harry’s second son, Albus Severus, and his struggle to come to terms with his father’s legacy.
Details have leaked out — a sign in the theater warns of smoke, fog and pyrotechnic special effects; an owl got loose during one preview performance; Part One ends with a cliffhanger. The British newspaper The Mirror, while not publishing spoilers, gave the show five stars. “Judging by the whooping and cheering, nobody was disappointed,” the reviewer wrote.
The play is sold out until May 2017; its two parts can either be seen back-to-back or on different days. A Broadway transfer has not yet been announced.
Grace Franzese, 17, of Greenlawn, is one of the London ticket holders — she, her parents and two brothers are attending the July 27 preview performance. Franzese, who was diagnosed with cancer at age 11 and spent years in treatment, requested the tickets from Suffolk County’s Make-A-Wish chapter, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening diseases. Says Franzese’s mom, Elizabeth, “It was a really big deal that they got the tickets.”
STARRING NEW YORK
The “Fantastic Beasts” movie, due out Nov. 18, will delve into the wizarding world’s past. The story expands on the fictional Hogwarts textbook of the same name previously penned by Rowling as a fundraiser. It stars the book’s “author,” Newt Scamander, played by Eddie Redmayne, and brings the action to 1920s New York City, where Scamander stops after a global journey cataloging magical creatures. The film also stars Colin Farrell, Katherine Waterston and Dan Fogler.
To prepare fans for the movie, Rowling has published two chapters of a series called “The History of Magic in North America” on her official Pottermore website (pottermore.com). The second installment described the “Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry” at the peak of Mt. Greylock in Massachusetts, “where it is concealed from non-magic gaze by a variety of powerful enchantments, which sometimes manifest in a wreath of misty cloud.”
The return to Harry Potter’s universe comes as a surprise to many fans. Rowling published seven Harry Potter novels between 1997 and 2007; they sold more than 450 million copies worldwide and were made into eight films. After that, she said she wouldn’t be writing any sequels.
But Rowling’s clearly been the victim of a Memory Charm — the wizarding way of making someone forget what they’ve said.
Lev Grossman, author of the best-selling “Magicians” trilogy, says he believes the passage of time contributed to Rowling’s change of heart. “By the end of a series you’ve exhausted your stock of themes and stories and ideas for what you can do or say in that world,” he says in an email. “But then time goes by, and life happens, and you become someone else who has something new to say.”
Grossman doesn’t see a downside for the author. “Really, there has probably never been a less risky proposition in the history of publishing,” he says. “Harry Potter has never really been about saving the world. At its heart, it’s about the emotional journey of Rowling’s characters. As long as that journey’s still going on, everybody’s going to want to read about it.”
Harry Potter book releases events on LI
“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” will be released at 12:01 a.m. on July 31. Bookstores around Long Island will hold events July 30-31. Here’s a look at what’s happening; contact individual stores for details.
Saturday, July 30
10 a.m. All-day activities, with a marathon reading of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” at 6 p.m. Harbor Books, 20 Main St., Sag Harbor; 631-808-3401, harborbookssgh.com
8 p.m. Barnes & Noble stores, bn.com
91 Old Country Rd., Carle Place; 516-741-9850
4000 E. Jericho Tpke., East Northport; 631-462-0208
1542 Northern Blvd., Manhasset; 516-365-6723
600 Smith Haven Mall, Lake Grove; 631-724-0341
9 p.m. Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., Huntington; 631-271-1442, bookrevue.com
11 p.m. Turn of the Corkscrew, 110 N. Park Ave., Rockville Centre; 516-764-6000, turnofthecorkscrew.com
- The Dolphin Book Shop, 299 Main St., Port Washington; 516-767-2650, thedolphinbookshop.com
- Southampton Books, 16 Hampton Rd., Southampton; 631-283-0270, southampton-books.com
Sunday, July 31
All day (9 a.m.-9 p.m.). Come to Barnes & Noble in East Northport for special activities and to share perspectives on the new book.