This week I bought a book. Not unusual you might say, for a self-professed bibliophile. Over the past couple of years I’ve been lucky enough to get most of the books that I want to read as early review editions. Obviously J.K. had no need to try and drum up a bit of support for this one. The BBC are reporting that it is the fastest selling book this decade and at its current rate, it is on track to become the second biggest single-week sales for a book since records began.
Waterstones, a large UK based book chain, advised that by the end of this first week, they expect to match the lifetime sales of their bestselling script book ever, An Inspector Calls by JB Priestley.
Not everyone is happy though. People are complaining that it is a play. You can’t read a play, right? It just screams out to be watched as a live event. Right? Tell that to the millions of world-wide English Literature students that sit down to read Shakespeare every year. I have some sympathy though because having read the script I am now desperate to see the two part stage play. As I was turning each page I was trying to work out in my head how they could bring something so magical to the stage.
Yesterday I dutifully logged on to the online queue to snap up some of the next batch of 250,000 tickets for the London show. The website sagged miserably under the weight of interest and when I finally got in I was 59,046 in the queue. Needless to say I was one of the very many disappointed people. Looks like I’ll be aiming to go sometime in 2018. If I’m lucky!
The play is set where the seventh book ends. That little snapshot of the future families on platform nine and three quarters at Kings Cross sending the next generation of little wizards off to be trained. Nineteen years later Harry is now a husband, father and overworked employee at the Ministry of Magic. Albus Severus Potter is leaving home for the first time to start his education at Hogwarts.
As a collaborative play this isn’t entirely the work of J K Rowling but it has the distinct feel that these are the same people a generation later. There has been an amount of upheaval in the wizarding world but they have come through it and are all still friends. The interactions between the characters are totally believable as is the difficult relationship between Albus and his father. After all, it was bad enough being a friend of Harry Potter let alone being his progeny.
Unlike many disgruntled fans that are dismissing the book at little more than fan fiction, I really enjoyed this story. It had teeth and it felt like a lot of thought had gone into making the older characters credible and the fledgling characters realistic in this new incarnation.
UK Publication Date: 31 July 2016. 352 pages.