There hasn’t quite been anything like Harry Potter — and there probably never will be.
Today marks 10 years since readers across the world lined up in front of stores for the release of a book. Mind you, that phenomenon wasn’t established by Harry Potter; it was seen decades earlier with blockbuster films like ‘Jaws’. But to wait in line for a book? That was something unique to the Harry Potter. Other book franchises would try to replicate the success of the Harry Potter release parties, most notably the Twilight, Inheritance and even Robert Langdon novels — though none would quite see the success Harry Potter enjoyed.
Indeed, that book — J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — shattered first-day sale records which had been previously set by its predecessor, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Deathly Hallows sold 8.3 million copies in the United States and 2.65 million copies in the United Kingdom. It was estimated that the book flew off shelves so quickly that 15 copies were sold a second — a second!
Readers were eager for the answers to questions they had been asking for years. Who would live, who would die? Where were Voldemort’s horcruxes? Was Snape good or evil?
When American readers finally opened their copies, they were greeted by a short message from the publishers where the book’s normal blurb was expected. With the hype and conversation surrounding the release of Deathly Hallows, perhaps there wasn’t much more to say other than: “We now present the seventh and final installment in the epic tale of Harry Potter.”
The conclusion to Harry’s story was met with praise from many critics, including some of Rowling’s most prominent peers.
“Maybe it’s the British prose,” Stephen King wrote days after the book’s release. “It’s hard to resist the hypnotism of those calm and sensible voices, especially when they turn to make-believe. Rowling was always part of that straightforward storytelling tradition… J.K. Rowling has set the standard: It’s a high one, and God bless her for it.”
While 10 years have passed, it’s evident that Harry Potter affected the media industry in ways that are still felt today. One of its most recognized and controversial legacies is seen in its influence among book-to-film adaptations. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows kicked off the trend of two- or even three-part film finales. Breaking Dawn, Mockingjay, The Hobbit and Allegiant come to mind.
Harry Potter’s impact is also seen in today’s writers, especially within the young adult book industry. MuggleNet spoke to some of YA’s most popular authors about the impact the books had on their lives. Alexandra Bracken admires the mystery elements found in the Harry Potter books, according to MuggleNet. They also reported that Angie Thomas was influenced by Rowling’s characters and that Leigh Bardugo found comfort in the books when questioning her writing ability.
At the center of Pottermania is J.K. Rowling. The author hasn’t faded into the background since the release of Deathly Hallows. On the contrary, Jo (as many affectionately call her) has consistently made headlines since penning the final word in the Harry Potter series.
The media had a heyday in 2013 when reporters discovered that Rowling had secretly published a mystery novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling. The book, which shot straight to the best-seller charts within hours of the revelation, introduced Rowling’s two most notable post-Potter characters to date: Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott. Strike and Ellacot went on to star in two sequels, The Silkworm and Career of Evil. They’ll return yet again for a fourth novel, Lethal White, and will make their television debuts on BBC One. A media frenzy also surrounded Rowling with the release of her first post-Potter novel, The Casual Vacancy, which was received with mixed reviews from Rowling fans and non-fans alike.
Rowling’s kept the Harry Potter fandom alive in many ways, especially as she’s continued to expand her Wizarding World. The Harry Potter spin-off film, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them‘ was generally well-received. The continuation of Harry Potter’s story, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child — the play dubbed as the “eighth installment” of the Potter series — certainly shocked fans but was met with mixed reactions. Regardless, these new projects have kept the Potter fandom abuzz.
So where does that bring Harry Potter and its fans today? 10 years later, what is there to say about the Harry Potter craze that once knocked everyone off their broomsticks? Was it a fad? A phenomenon? A lifestyle?
Given Rowling and the Wizarding World’s continued relevance, many would say that Harry Potter hasn’t died. In fact, some have referred to its fan base as “the fandom that lived.” Indeed, many agree that it wasn’t just a fad, it wasn’t just the trendy thing to do. The majority of fans who lined outside the bookstores seven years ago are adults now. Yet even as their lives have moved on, many still think fondly back to the days of cloaks and wands. For some, it may be one of the things that bonds the interests of new and old readers of our age. A new generation is being introduced to the story of the boy wizard who charmed the hearts of millions, not so much unlike the young readers of last decade.
Rowling once told Leaky Cauldron’s Melissa Anelli, “When all the fuss and hoopla dies away, and when all the press commentary dies away, I think it will be seen that this phenomenon was generated, in the first instance, by kids loving a book. A book went on shelves, and a few people loved it. When all of the smoke and lights die away, that’s what you’ll be left with. And that’s the most wonderful thought for an author.”
At the end of it all, Rowling’s observation proves to be the reality — even magic — behind Harry Potter. Nevermind that there will be no more Harry Potter books in the future. Those kids who waited in those lines carry the boy wizard in their hearts and continue to share his impact with the rising generation. In that sense, Harry Potter is very much the boy who lived.
This is an updated and follow-up article to “7 Years Later: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by Saul Marquez, first published in 2013.