So says Dumbledore at the beginning of Harry Potter’s first ever start-of-term feast. Now 14 years, 7 books and 8 films later, the Hogwarts express is leaving Platform 9 and 3/4 for good. Nothing Harry-related to anticipate ever again. Ever ever again. Can you actually believe it?
I can’t. However corny it may sound, the story of the Harry Potter saga is the story of my life and the lives of millions of people around the world. Think about it – I was 7 when the first book was released, and now as the series of films draw to a close I am nearing 20 years of age. How much of that time was spent waiting for the next book in the series to be released, and reading and rereading the stories over and over again? That’s a whole life of Harry Potter.
It’s pretty special when a book can capture and hold the attention of the children of the internet. Why read the whole book when you can read the synopsis in 2 minutes on Wikipedia, right? OK, maybe I’m exaggerating (at least I hope I am…) but it takes a lot to get us to make an effort these days.
But what is it about the Harry Potter series that makes it so special? That’s a good question. A story about a orphaned boy who discovers he’s a wizard and heads off to magic school sounds very lame. And to many, it is. (These people are soul-sucking Dementors.)
I think the special thing about Harry Potter is that JK Rowling makes you care. You care about Harry. He’s not perfect. From the Goblet of Fire onwards he’s a whiny bastard, but you still don’t want him Avada-Kedavra-ed. Ron is rash and sulky, but you want him to be the hero. Hermione is an insufferable know-it-all sometimes, but if she didn’t know it all Harry and Ron and everybody else would be dead and Voldemort would be laughing ha ha ha.
What’s special is how, after a couple of reads, you start to notice the little things Rowling had planned all along. Things that appeared in one book as a throwaway aside, but appear in another as a major plot point. Take for instance the opal necklace that Malfoy first spots in Borgin and Burkes in Chamber of Secrets, which later appears as the necklace that cursed Katie Bell in the Half Blood Prince. That’s a whole three books later lads. The woman knew what she was doing. Even better, think about the mysterious locket discovered while clearing out 12 Grimmauld Place in the Order of the Phoenix. Rowling writes that Harry found “a heavy locket that none of them could open…” Kinda gives you the shivers when you cop on, doesn’t it?
Harry Potter has made me laugh, cry, and do triumphant little victory dances since around 1998. (I started following the series from Chamber of Secrets onwards, at 7 years of age I wasn’t too familiar with what was on the bestseller lists.) I’m pretty sure that Harry Potter will be making me laugh, cry and do triumphant little victory dances for a long time to come. The films may not be one patch on the books, but it’s still thrilling to see them played out on the big screen. I know I shall not be the only one shedding a tear in the cinema on July 15th. It may seem silly for a 20-year-old girl to cling so dearly to a series of children’s fantasy novels, but as baby Snape remarked to baby Lily Evans: “It’s real for us.”
I’m just going to go ahead and drown my sorrows in the contents of my Butterbeer mug, whilst poring over my 2001 illustrated Harry Potter calendar. I have no regrets.