On Tuesday, J.K. Rowling announced that she will be publishing the screenplay of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The script for the Rowling-penned prequel/spinoff will be available as an eBook on Pottermore the day after its November release. In March, the author confirmed on Twitter that the movie is only the first in a planned trilogy. Back in February, Rowling revealed that the two-part script for the play she helped develop, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will also be published in book form, parts I and II, on July 31 — Harry's birthday. It will drop the day after the play — which picks up with Harry and his son, 19 years after the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — debuts in London. In March, Rowling published The History of Magic in North America, a four-part short story collection that lays the groundwork for the 1920s New York-set Fantastic Beasts. Those stories generated controversy with accusations of cultural appropriation and sexism (some levied by R29).
This week The Independent wrote, "It's a good time to be a Harry Potter fan." Eh, this skeptical Potterhead begs to differ. I mean, in a way, sure — this is every book nerd's dream, no? An author keeping her universe alive, indulging her loyal readers and making her fan-base very, very happy. But as a one-time HP diehard — one who attended each and every midnight book release party at her local Barnes & Noble — I'm not psyched about a world with no less than three Harry Potter Theme parks, a Twitter-feed spitting out new deets courtesy of J.K. on the daily, and a seemingly infinite slate of HP projects lined up years into the future. Harry Potter has ballooned into a sprawling, scripted, franchised, beast that would be right at home in Newt Scamander's volume — except this beast doesn't feel so magical.
Let's start with The Cursed Child, which Rowling insists is not an eighth book in the series... but feels suspiciously like one, given that it stars three minor characters by the name of Harry, Ron and Hermione. Does anybody else remember back in 2007 how, well, final the last few pages (in the book) and scenes (in the movie) of The Deathly Hallows felt? The main characters were happily married and proudly seeing their prodigy off to Hogwarts. Loose ends: tied. I thought we literally closed the book on Harry. But in the age of Twitter, Pottermore, rabid fandom and endless commercial opportunities, Rowling couldn't help but hover over her creation like a mother uncertain about whether sending her baby off to college was such a good idea after all.
And it was awesome, at first. Dumbledore was gay, fuck yeah. Hagrid didn't have a Patronus, boo. Harry's dad James was in Gryffindor, duh. And then in a 2014 interview, J.K. dropped this bombshell: Ron and Hermione need divorce counselling 'cause they're a shitty married couple, and, sorry Ginny, but it should've been Harry that wound up with Hermione. Excuse me?! Call me a bratty, ungrateful millennial, but that's my childhood escape you're messing with — and I'd prefer it be kept as pristine and preserved as possible, thank you very much. You gifted us with a perfect canonical universe, J.K. — one that now seems doomed to be endlessly tinkered with, revised, and expanded upon. Are tweets canonical now?
See, once upon a time, Harry Potter was special and rare. What we didn't know, we filled in with our imagination, joyfully. Now, a stream of selectively curated tidbits has swelled into a full-blown, all-you-can-eat buffet of Harry Potter. The past, present, future of the Harry Potter world is now generously doled out on the screen, the stage, Twitter, e-books, real books, and so forth. And the spell is wearing off (sorry, I had to).
The hungriest fans are cheerily devouring every morsel — and I wish I was one of them. But for me, the magical nostalgia of Harry Potter is fading fast. What used to feel like a mysterious universe — one that was a personal, private haven for each and every reader — has now been exhaustively mapped out. Light has now flooded into every corner, and each detail that comes into focus is one no longer left up to the reader. I miss that initial one-on-one connection between Rowling's words on the page and myself, the reader. Maybe there's a solution: Dive back into the original series and lose myself in that wondrous world all over again — without the help of Warner Bros., 140 character musings, or the fine actors of London's West End. And maybe I'll slip into a Fantastic Beasts screening in the fall. Or maybe I'll just read my book.