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Nineteen Years Later

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted any book reviews the last few weeks, despite having been off work for the summer and submitting my dissertation, meaning that I have had more time to read than I have done for a very long time. However, I made the decision that after a year of struggling through my Masters, it was time to reward myself by relaxing with my favourite books of all time – the Harry Potter series.

I’ve read these books over and over, but it’s been a good couple of years since I got the chance to become fully absorbed in them all over again, and I loved it. Every time I read them afresh, I discover parts of them I had forgotten. They still make me laugh and cry, and every time the spine crackles open in my now rather old and battered copies, I feel at home as soon as I begin to read the words written there. The thing I love about Harry Potter is it truly is like coming home; reading these books makes me feel safe, comforted and happy in a way that none of my other favourite books can quite match. I find myself savouring every word, almost feeling like I can taste them on my tongue, and marvelling all over again at how Rowling has weaved this remarkable world, and these incredible characters, in a way that has captured the imagination of not just myself, but millions and millions of people.

It seemed all the more appropriate to write this post considering the fact that three days ago, the 1st September, marked the date in which the epilogue took place and Albus Potter set off on the train to Hogwarts, leading us on the journey outlined in the fantastic play ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ (I was lucky enough to see the first installment, but have to wait until March for the second!). Harry Potter has always been a source of inspiration and comfort to me, and I saw elements of myself in many of the characters when I first bonded with these books in my first year of secondary school, a fat, shy, but certainly not stupid eleven year old who was bullied mercilessly right up until A-level years. These books comforted me then and have continued to do so at many difficult points in my life. I found myself in Hermione, with her love of books and learning; in Hagrid, with his no-holds-barred love of animals; in Luna, with her daydreamy nature and the teasing she suffered; in Neville and Tonks with their clumsiness; in Ginny, with her determination and stubbornness. I loved these characters from the first, and have continued to do so. The joy, sadness and nourishment offered by these books is something that I don’t feel can be matched, and is the reason why many of us still continue to think of Hogwarts as our true home, even once the series has ended.

I often regret that I did not discover these books sooner; they were published nearly ten years before I first turned the pages of Philosopher’s Stone. My relationship with Harry Potter has endured since then, however, and I know it will continue to do so – I am sure many more occasions will arise where I feel the need to turn back to these books, with the lessons they teach and the feelings they evoke. One day I hope my own children will find the same things in these books as I do, and that they will continue to inspire them as they have me.

 

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J. K. Rowling

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RATING: 5/5

BLURB: “Explorer and magizoologist Newt Scamander has just completed a round-the-globe trip in search of the most rare and unusual magical creatures. Arriving in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when Newt’s case is misplaced and some of his fantastic beasts escape into the city, it spells trouble for everyone…”

REVIEW: Before the ‘Fantastic Beasts…’ film came out in cinemas last November, I admit I felt a little bit of a trepadation at the thought of a whole new Harry Potter-linked franchise. After I had been to see the film, however, I became completely obsessed; as an animal-lover I adored all of the magical creatures Rowling introduced to us, many of whom we had heard mentioned in the original Potter series but never fully seen. I also loved how Newt’s story links to the Harry Potter books, such as the link with Grindelwald and the mention of Dumbledore. After I went on for weeks about how much I loved the film, my Mum bought me the screenplay for Christmas. Sometimes I find reading scripts to be a little more challenging; to me, they often feel clunky and the stage directions can easily feel like interruptions. However, the screenplay of ‘Fantastic Beasts…’ was a joy to read and flowed just as the words and actions flowed on screen. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I am very much looking forward to watching the film again when the DVD comes out next month.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

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RATING: 5/5

BLURB: “It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places”

REVIEW: This book is a tough one to review, and not purely because it is a printed version of the recently released play ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’, set nineteen years on from Deathly Hallows, at the exact point where the epilogue left off – a play which, despite being in two different online queues for six hours each, I’m now not going to get to see until 2018 at the earliest, and that’s if I’m lucky. But enough about that; back to the book. It is also hard to review because I really, truly, do not want to spoil it for anyone. I was fortunate enough not to have any aspect of the plotline ruined for me and I think because of that I enjoyed reading this even more. Being given a new part to the Harry Potter story was truly like a gift in my eyes, and no matter how uncertain I initially was this book had me hooked. I read it in a matter of hours. It captured the true essence of Harry Potter in its purest form and sobbed more times than I can count – and not because the play is sad. I sobbed because we got more from characters we know and love, because so many aspects of the story were exactly what the fans have always imagined, because the twist was fantastic, because there were some wise words from my favourite Dumbledore, and because this book made me feel every emotion I ever felt whilst reading the original series all over again. I can only imagine that watching the play itself must be even more of an intense, amazing experience. I cannot describe to you how much I loved reading this script or, indeed, how much I love Harry Potter. It turns out J.K Rowling was right with her words at the premiere for the final Harry Potter movie – Hogwarts is always there to welcome us home. And believe me, it’s better than ever.