Harry Potter: hardly a boy wizard anymore but sure to cast a spell

The seventh and last installment,  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows , came out in 2007.
The seventh and last installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows , came out in 2007.

It's Harry Potter again, though not quite as we've come to know the boy wizard.

Harry after all is now 37. And the book that goes on sale tomorrow morning is not so much another J K Rowling megawork but the script of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the eighth instalment of the hugely popular fantasy novels based on the life of Harry.

Book stores are planning parties and anticipating a busy Sunday morning when the balloon goes up on the global release. In the Northern Hemisphere shops start selling the book at 12.01am. Here it's a more respectable 11.01am.

Until then super-tight security is in force. Retailers are forbidden to open cartons and display copies until the magic moment.

The script is based on a new story set 19 years after the seventh book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which came out in 2007. It is the first Potter story set on stage and depicts Harry as a overworked public servant with the Ministry of Magic - and a husband, and father of three school-age children.

The publisher offered this outline: 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, father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.

The window display at Mt Eden's Timeout Bookstore in Auckland. Photo / Doug Sherring
The window display at Mt Eden's Timeout Bookstore in Auckland. Photo / Doug Sherring

Whitcoulls book manager Joan MacKenzie says pre-orders and inquiries have been high and extra staff are rostered for Sunday morning.

"My own view is that it will outsell most other books in the market at the present time, but it won't be as huge as the previous books because it is a play script and not a narrative book," MacKenzie says.

"However, for anyone who's a Harry Potter fan, they'll want to know what happens and I suspect will want to get their hands on the story as soon as possible."

At The Dorothy Butler Children's Bookshop in Ponsonby, celebrations start at 10.30am with cake, dress-ups and spot prizes.

Co-owner Mary Wadsworth says there will be extra staff, dressed up and on duty, to cope with expected customer demand.

"The news has been out for around six months and initially reaction was fairly lukewarm, but in the last couple of weeks momentum has certainly increased," says Wadsworth. "We've had lots of inquiries and pre-orders are certainly higher than those for other books."

Overseas, Amazon and Barnes & Noble expect it to be their biggest selling book of the year, but only 4.5 million copies have been printed in North America. In 2007, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold 8.3 million copies in just 24 hours.

Publishers Hachette New Zealand says from the level of pre-orders, there's a huge buzz and expectation with fans desperate to know how the story continues.

"Given most Kiwis won't have the opportunity to attend the play's London run, this is their way to re-immerse themselves in this world and read the play in script form."

Thanks to Hachette NZ, we've got five copies of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One & Two (Special Rehearsal Edition), worth $50, to give away. To be in the draw email your name, address and phone number to news@heraldonsunday.co.nz by midday Wednesday. Put Harry in the subject line and the books will be sent to winners by Hachette next week.

- NZ Herald

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