I've loved the Harry Potter series and J.K. Rowling for over 10 years, but now, for the first time, I feel disappointed with her - and it hurts.
I've been a fan of the series since 2002 when I watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on the big screen.
At 16, I was a bit older than the fan base, but as a nerd, I had no problem liking books that were meant for children. I tore through the novels in a matter of weeks, and from then on, I was hooked.
Over the years, I've spent countless hours on online message boards. In college I dissected and re-read the books, formulating theories with other fans about how the stories would end. (Yes, this is my idea of fun at 22).
When the final book was released in 2007, I was just out of college and dragged my friends to the midnight release.
Standing in line, I relished the magic of being around 200 other people who were as excited as I was.
It took about two days for me to finish Deathly Hallows, and I found myself in tears. Not just because of the characters we lost, but because it was over.
Never again would I experience that sense of community, the batting theories back and forth, because the case was closed. Mysteries solved.
Or so I thought.
Rowling, shy on social media at first, now rarely lets a day go by without tweeting. With her own site, Pottermore, she has slowly revealed aspects of the stories and tidbits about characters that we only could've guessed years ago.
It was lovely, and it gave me a real sense that she was a fan like us. I always imagined what it would be like to have a conversation with her, and though she's never tweeted back at me, she has with other fans. It felt like she was personally connecting, and it was an extraordinary gift.
Needless to say, I expected the new book, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, to continue that magic.
I have to admit that the idea of a play versus another novel was not what I had wanted.
Plays, after all, are meant to be performed, not read. Not only that, but the fans would not be experiencing the story at the same time. Instead, only small groups of people would get to see the play first. Unless you happened to have the means to get tickets to a sold-out show in London, you would be out of luck.
Initially, there were no plans to release a script version of Cursed Child, but sometime last year that changed. Why? Perhaps because it would allow all the Potter fans to experience the play in book form, as we had come to expect.
So I did what I did in 2007: I pre-ordered the book online, but in my impatience over the weekend, I also went out and purchased a copy. (This year, I was out of the country and standing in line for a midnight release was out of my reach.)
I did not need to rush, though. The play was ... um ... not as I expected - and not in a good way.
SPOILER ALERT - STOP HERE IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE BOOK YET.
It was heartbreaking to read characters acting in ways I would never have expected, and the plot progresses in ways that just make no sense if you know the books.
You don't make a trolley cart lady on the Hogwarts Express into a clone of a villain from The Terminator movies.
You don't turn a beloved character into a Death Eater, even if it's in some alternate universe. You don't make one of the best-written female characters of all time into a bitter shrew because she doesn't end up with her best friend.
You don't take your big bad villain, Lord Voldemort, who has been repeatedly described as being incapable of love and even friendship, and give him a secret child in a timeline that doesn't add up with the events of the last novel.
I'm sorry, J.K. Rowling, but none of this makes any sense.
I know she doesn't owe her fans any more than the gifts she's already given us, but that won't stop me from feeling a profound sadness that this is the final time we will get to read about Harry and this is what we are left with. Yes, we are living in a world with much larger problems. But this was supposed to be a rare moment of joy in our crazy world.
Over the years, I've had childish fantasies about taking a Time-Turner back to a period before I'd read the first Harry Potter book, just for the pleasure of discovering them all again.
At this point, I'm finished with Time-Turners. They should've stayed smashed in the Department of Mysteries.