While “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” isn’t necessarily an official eighth book of the popular series, it does follow an overworked adult Harry and his youngest son, Albus, who struggles with the pressure of his family legacy.
The Astoria Bookshop was one of many bookstores around the city this weekend to host a midnight release party for the book.
It’s the bookshop’s first midnight release, although they hosted a cocktail hour for the release of Harper Lee’s “Go Set a Watchman” last year and have held launch parties for authors Zora O'Neill, Jaya Saxena & Matt Lubchansky, and Jenn Marie Thorne, among others.
“Harry Potter is a franchise that our staff and customers alike have grown up with so it seemed a natural fit to celebrate the release of the next installment,” said Kisky Holwerda, event coordinator for the Astoria Bookshop.
The bookshop opened its door at 10 p.m. on Saturday night, with customers lining up outside in anticipation. Party goers ranged from children in the first grade, reading the stories for the first time, to adults revisiting the popular series with nostalgia and excitement.
For Jane, Sonali and Farzana, a group of fans in their mid-to-late twenties, the midnight release party was bittersweet because they’ve realized how much they’ve grown since the series ended nine years ago.
Twelve-year-old Hannah Arnold, her 9-year-old brother Henry and their father, James, attended the release party together. Before buying the fourth book, “The Goblet of Fire,” she memorized the first three books in the series and has read the entire series more than a dozen times. She was speechless when it came to explaining the draw of the series.
“I’m a big reader, and I don’t even have words to describe it,” said Hannah, who dressed in her Ravenclaw uniform. “It’s just so great and J.K. Rowling is amazing and such a great writer.”
“After I finished all the books, I learned about Pottermore and the whole Harry Potter fandom,” she added. “I read articles about midnight release parties and I wished the books weren’t over so I could go to one of these. I wanted to do this for the longest time and I’m really happy to be here.”
While fans waited for the release, there was a slew of activities available, from trivia to a costume contest, since Polyjuice Potion was a bit too difficult to whip up, Holwerda said. The winner was a half Dobby, half Mad-Eye Moody costume. Additionally, local tarot reader Ann Margaret O'Connor did tarot card readings which would’ve made Professor Trelawney proud.
Free treats such as butterbeer, pretzel wands, sorting hat cupcakes and witch hat cookies greeted guests.
“Personally, I am excited to see where J.K. Rowling and the playwrights Jack Thorne and John Tiffany take these beloved characters,” Holwerda said. “Customers have been calling in daily to ask about the release party and to pre-order copies of the script. What I find to be the most magical part of the return to Potter-mania are the stories customers and staff share about reading the original series, attending other midnight release parties, and meeting these characters who have come to mean so much to so many of us.”