First things first. The eighth Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, might not have the magic of the earlier books in the series and may have received mixed reviews from critics, but it’s not a story you mind reading.
The depiction of a forlorn boy forced into the magical world, where he faces the most fantastic of adventures and misadventures, giving way to a 42-year-old struggling to find his feet as a father is quite a leap. A misadventure that many Potter fans are finding difficult to digest.
The book has its moments, like Harry travelling back in time to the day his parents were murdered; some unexpectedly adorable characters like Scorpius Malfoy, Draco’s son, and even possibilities for the future, like Scorpius and Rose Weasley’s relationship.
Rowling cuts herself short on two fronts: portraying a grown-up Harry, who is clearly not as successful as an adult, consequently diminishing the aura around the character; and by presenting an abbreviated version of a ‘Harry Potter adventure’ that his son Albus experiences.
We might like to shift the blame away from Rowling on both fronts. One, she did not write the script alone; Jack Thorne and John Tiffany are co-authors, and the fact that the story is the script of a play leaves little chance for a lengthy plot or detail. But then we are not complaining either.
Neither did the public. The queues outside stores on the day of the release were as long as for previous books, the sales were adequately high and the play is reportedly a success—sold-out and receiving rave reviews.
So coming to the fact that we have an eighth book after having accepted that the Harry Potter series is over.
Rowling’s epilogue in The Deathly Hallows was considered as a definitive sign that Harry’s adventures are a thing of the past, knowing that he’s a father of three children. But Rowling’s own adventures with the magical world have persisted all these years.
After the seventh book, Rowling stated that her future work was unlikely to be in the fantasy genre, but in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2010, she let out that a new book might happen.
Also, she announced that she would compile an encyclopedia on Harry Potter, but never really got down to it.
In 2011, Rowling announced a new website, Pottermore, which includes extensive information on characters, places and objects related to Harry Potter.
Social media and Pottermore updates also kept the world guessing at large. Then in 2015, Rowling announced on Pottermore that a two-part play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, co-authored with Thorne and Tiffany, would be the ‘eighth’ Harry Potter story, featuring his son Albus.
Given the madness around the Potter name, most fans can’t have enough of Harry, even if he is a 42-year-old boring Ministry of Magic employee.
Rowling herself has only to gain, especially since her other attempts and avatars as a writer subsequent to the Potter series have had no parallel to its success.
The Casual Vacancy sank without a trace and even the Cormoran Strike series, written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, has been only mildly arresting, with sales picking up only when it was revealed that Galbraith was actually Rowling.
Lastly, her attempt to revive and sustain Pottermania and ride on its success has resulted in a much tolerable book than similar attempts like Grey, a completely unnecessary sequel to the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy by EL James. Milking a successful brand is smart strategy; only, some can pull it off and some can’t.