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The long-awaited and much-anticipated Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be released tonight, July 30, at midnight. It’s been a long time since bookstores have been able to capitalize on a Harry Potter release by throwing a massive and well-attended midnight release party. In fact, the last time they could really encourage readers to don their favorite robes and other wizarding finest and come out to celebrate a new book was on July 21, 2007 — when the final installment of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released. As the New York Times reports, more than 5,000 bookstores across the country are planning events to celebrate the release.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will represent the 8th book in the series, but that statement comes with a sort of footnote: this book is not really a book, per se, but the script of a play of the same name — and one that also makes its debut today in London. To that end, it is not written by the series’ beloved author, J.K. Rowling. Rowling worked with Jack Thorne, the playwright, and John Tiffany, the director, but the story is not her brainchild in the way that the others in the original series were. While hers is the name emblazoned in large letters across the bottom of the book’s cover, she has made it very clear that she did not write this; that this isn’t necessarily the future she imagined for Harry and pals when they reached middle age.

This is a point that is causing some degree of divide between fans: some are excited about the book and don’t mind that it’s not written by Rowling — they just want new Harry Potter. Others are cautiously optimistic — excited, but also concerned that the book will end up being a sort of fan fiction. After all, sometimes when readers want new content from a beloved author, what they get isn’t really what they’d bargained for and the book just doesn’t live up to the hype surrounding it. Just ask Harper Lee fans how the summer of 2015 went for them.

Still, although some fans are proceeding with caution, they’re still proceeding. That Rowling did not conceive of nor pen the story herself does not seem to have deterred readers much. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is already Amazon’s best-selling book of the year, having been at or near the top of the best-seller list since it was announced in February, and Barnes & Noble similarly noted that it is the most pre-ordered book since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released nearly a decade ago. Scholastic is running 4.5 million copies of the book in the United States.

Fans React to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Nostalgia runs high.

https://twitter.com/jennapaw/status/759450969973207040

https://twitter.com/booshaybryant/status/759460920510873600

Source: The New York Times