In a matter of time, the anticipation of Harry Potter’s fate will be over. For quite possibly the last time in our lives, we will have queued up in front of a bookstore wearing homemade wizard robes and lightning bolts marked across our foreheads with thick eyeliner pencil. We will have crowded the shelves far past capacity, sweating underneath plastic Buddy Holley frames and looking at each other thinking, “My God, I’m forty years old. I really hope my daughter appreciates the things I do for her.” For the last time, we will savor something for which we have waited years: an original, authentic Harry Potter adventure, one that (hopefully) offers positive closure to life at Hogwarts.
We will have devoured 784 pages of a book written at a middle school age level, hanging on every syllable. Then we will close the books, take a deep breath, and ask, “What now?”
It will be over sooner than you think. As all good things must come to an end, so Harry Potter becomes yet another fandom to cease originality with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Sure, there are still two more movies to be made, extending the life of the franchise if only for a short time, but those are stories the well-versed Muggle knows by heart. We know what to expect, and we can almost picture the scowl on Snape’s brow or wide-eyed Weasley surprise as events unfold. It’s exciting, and we’ll go, but it isn’t the same as treasuring a new book.
We could, of course, hope for a continuation of the fandom in the way Star Trek and Star Wars never seem to go away. Perhaps there could be Hogwarts: the Next Generation, where Ron and Hermione’s children join the ranks of Gryffindor students in the quest to be Head Boy or Girl. Or maybe Hogwarts: The Saga Begins, with extensive renderings of the young lives of James and Lily Potter, Snape, and You-Know-Who. Maybe somebody was jilted at prom, and that’s how this whole mess got started. A fan can dream.
For as much as we wish and hope, it doesn’t seem likely Rowling will continue the franchise herself, or allow anyone else to take the helm while she is still living. So it stands to reason her children, like Tolkien’s, will not take pen to paper and revive old friends and new tricks. What now? How will we be able to survive knowing these possibilities are closed to us like book covers pressed against pages never to be read?
It is possible to survive post-Harry, though it will be difficult since this situation hardly mirrors other favorite science fiction and fantasy icons. With Star Trek and Star Wars we had books and cartoons to fall back on, and the Sci-Fi Channel has seen fit to update older favorites like Battlestar Galactica. With Harry, we are left only with our imaginations to ponder what could be, and in a way that is a good thing, since Rowling’s work has stimulated the desire to read in a way that hasn’t been felt for decades. The best one can do, to give our thanks to Rowling for helping us rediscover this pleasure, is to continue to read.
And guess what, it doesn’t have to be retread of Harry Potter, either. We hear often of how some fans have read the books more than once, but if you have loved Harry it is possible to transfer that enthusiasm to other worlds and adventures. You’ve seen The Wizard of OZ, right? Did you know it was a book first? Did you know its author, L. Frank Baum, wrote seven books in the series? How difficult would it be to hop from a portkey and take a stroll down the yellow brick road?
Was Hermoine your favorite character? Had you hopes for more adventures from a feminist point of view? Well, it may never happen, but you could console yourself with a series by fantasy great Mercedes Lackey. One trilogy of her Valdemar books (Arrows of the Queen, Arrow’s Flight, and Arrow’s Fall) tell the story of a young woman named Talia chosen to become a Herald in the supernatural kingdom of Valdamar, learning to use distinct gifts not dissimilar to what Hermione and company have. (Note: due to adult situations in some of these books, they may be suitable for high school readers).
To soothe your hunger for new worlds, take a trip to Narnia. The nine books of C.S. Lewis have enchanted readers for generations with their tales of triumph, adventure, and spiritual allegory. By comparison, the extended libraries of Frank Herbert, J.R.R. Tolkien and Roald Dahl offer equal opportunity for escape.
And if you’ve read all of these already, well, there’s always the Harry Potter fan fiction that’s cluttering up the Internet. It’s okay, but how many times can I read a story about Harry and Draco kissing?