Professional book editor in the UK (and fan of Harry Potter) gives an honest opinion of Harry Potter in 2022.
During my teenage years, Harry Potter was my absolute everything, and I was a proud Hufflepuff who couldn't get enough of the magical world.
I read all the books, binged the films, played the video games and visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Leavesden four times. I obsessed over the well-developed characters, particularly Ron, Luna, Neville & Sirius, collected every bit of merchandise I could find and even got a quote from the sixth book tattooed on my back!
But now... I look at the wizarding world with a mixture of nostalgia and sadness.
I will always love the story, the characters, and the magic, and it'll always have a precious place in my heart, but at the same time, I wish they had just stopped at the last book/film, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Merlin's beard, what makes you say that?! I hear you ask.
Well, when J. K. Rowling told us she wouldn't write another Harry Potter book, I was pleased. Her decision to finalise Harry's story made me believe that she knew writing another one would overdo it, and I admired & respected that. So, when she announced that The Cursed Child would soon be in our grasp, I was disappointed.
Was the release of this controversial sequel the start of a hype the fandom didn't need? Kind of, and as a book editor, I believe that less is more sometimes, especially with something as precious as Harry Potter.
Some loved it, some loathed it, and others were indifferent, like me.
I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in a few hours on a lengthy train journey to Torquay, but it's never been a narrative that sticks with me, unlike the original Harry Potter series. The only time I've found myself recapping the plot is when talking about it with another Potterhead, and I've since found out that many other fans feel the same.
For those who still haven't read it, I wish I could tell you what happens bar Harry's kid, Albus, going back in time to save Cedric Diggory and everything going wrong, but I don't remember much more. Nothing really happens to advance the lives of the characters we all love, but it's still out there earning millions. It's this part that disheartens me and fills me with sorrow, especially as a book editor & writer who loves stories.
Harry Potter just feels like a money-maker now rather than a passion that began from a dream on a train.
When Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was released in November 2016, I felt a little more excited... perhaps because it was a film adaptation of one of the textbooks studied at Hogwarts, so something fans were already aware about and something relevant to the original series.
I enjoyed it on the big screen at my local cinema and bought it on DVD when it was released...
...but I haven't watched it since and I haven't watched the sequels either.
Merlin's beard! Why ever not? I hear you ask.
Well... it just...isn't magical or gripping enough for me to return to it.
I don't mean that it's not physically magical enough in terms of spells and charms, I mean the type of magic that gives you goose bumps in the middle of summer, the type that hits your heart and makes you cry, the type that makes you passionate and obsessive. Sorry Rowling, but I'm just not passionate about the future of Hogwarts. I didn't rush out to watch the second Fantastic Beasts film and I probably won't see the rest until Netflix or Amazon have it so I can watch them through my subscription.
However, neither Fantastic Beasts or The Cursed Child bother me as much as the merchandise and marketing that's shoved down everyone's throats.
When I walk into Waterstones to buy a new book, there's a designated Harry Potter & Fantastic Beasts section glaring at me from the centre. There are books with several different covers that range in price. There are pins, badges, colouring books, jigsaws, bags, necklaces, millions of Funko Pop figures, mugs, coasters, stationery, notebooks, posters and stacks of limited edition merch.
I walk into a clothes shop in search of some hidden gems, but I'm faced with a myriad of Gryffindor or Slytherin t-shirts, socks, hats and pyjamas - never Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw; it's as if those houses don't exist, but you know why they've done that, don't you? Because Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff don't sell as much, which brings me to my previous point: Harry Potter just feels like a money-maker now and there's no escape from it.
I go home to watch the telly in peace, but I'm forced to sit through several commercials advertising the Harry Potter Studio Tour, which I've already chosen to visit four times. Leave me alone!