Being a Harry Potter fan has been a part of my identity for as long as I can remember. I loved the books as a kid, and that only increased as I grew older. Harry Potter introduced me to world of fandom. I made some of my closest friend through discussing it, and I waiting more than 12 hours in line for the last book and movie. After the series ended, I continued to revisit the series. I stayed up until 2 am to get one of the first Pottermore accounts. I spent years maintaining a Hufflepuff fan tumblr and acting as a house counsellor. I traveled by myself for the first time in order to go to multiple HP conventions. I couldn’t get enough.
(At least, that’s what I thought.)
I was so excited for the introduction of Pottermore. New content! The illustrations were beautiful! But the interactive element was… lacking. After spending hours failing to make a potion, I started to just revisit it when new content was added. And then, not at all.
Part of the problem was that I had been so immersed in the fandom for years that the new official Harry Potter content was lacking beside it. When Rowling revealed her vision of the international wizarding world, I couldn’t help comparing it to tumblr’s. The fandom has its problems, but the shallow and racist worldbuilding that Pottermore put out was blatant next to the intricate imaginings of fans.
The books always had problems, and I never shied away from them (the lack of diversity being the most troubling for me), but as the franchise kept growing, the problems seemed to be stacking up, while the quality story content stayed about the same.
It was a blow to my love for the franchise. I had honestly expected better from JK Rowling. I thought–I had hoped–that since the original series had come out, she had become better at writing diversity. That was apparently misguided.
When The Cursed Child was announced, I was cautious. It wasn’t really written by JK Rowling. And the content coming out about Harry Potter after 2007 had been lackluster at best. But I mustered my remaining enthusiasm and determined to make the best of it. The midnight releases had always been my favourite part of being a HP fan, and this time I got to plan one! My bookstore held its own midnight release, and it ended up being a stunning success. I made house cupcakes and held a trivia contest! The place was packed with people! It made me remember what I loved about being a fan. And at the end of the night, I realized that I left without buying a book. I didn’t bother to turn back.
The next day, I bought a copy and read it right away, though it was a struggle to push through in parts. When I got to the rewriting of Cedric Diggory’s character (that model Hufflepuff!), I put down the book and walked away in frustration. I finished it, and the next day I traded it in for store credit. I didn’t want to see it on my shelves.
There were other signs, too, that I was losing my passion for the Harry Potter series. Months before Cursed Child, I had started reading out the first book to my partner before bed. I was surprised at how awkward it felt to read out loud. This was a book I had read more than a dozen times, and suddenly it felt clunky. I put it back on the shelf, filled with dread at the idea of finishing it and suddenly not liking it.
Being a Harry Potter fan has been a part of my identity for so long. I was the Harry Potter Expert of my immediate circles. My boss regularly tells customers that I’m the biggest fan there is–which is ridiculous, but she’s enthusiastic. I’ve been feeling my enthusiasm for the series slipping for years, but I haven’t wanted to voice it. It’s brought so much joy to my life; how can I leave it behind?
The day I knew I had truly fallen out of love with Harry Potter was when we opened up a shipment at work and it was the screenplay of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. “Oh!” I thought. “The movie must be coming out soon.” I looked it up. It was out that day. I hadn’t even remembered. (And because of my unease around the casting of Johnny Depp, I still haven’t seen it.)
I gave away most of my Harry Potter merch at the Cursed Child midnight release as prizes for the trivia contest. I still have the books, and a set of robes. The books, at least, I’ll keep. I know that the true test of whether I still love the series in its purest, book-only form is when I reread Deathly Hallows. It’s my favourite of the series, and if I don’t enjoy it this time around, I’ll know for sure that I need to let the series, and my memories of it, rest.
One day, I’ll pick it up. But for now, I’m not ready to face it. I’m not ready to find out if the series that defined my childhood and a good portion of my adult life is inaccessible to me now. As long as it stays on the shelf, there’s still a chance that Hogwarts will welcome me home.