One more sleep to go

2007-02-01 00:00

Harry Potter fans won't be sleeping tomorrow night - at 1 am on Saturday (midnight United Kingdom time) Bloomsbury Publishers will release the children's edition, adult edition, special edition, audio (read by Stephen Fry) and large-print editions of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling.

And that will bring the saga of the boy wizard and his duel with Lord Voldemart to a close - at any rate, for now. Rowling has not completely ruled out a return to the world of wizards and Muggles some time in the future. And there are, of course, two more films to come.

Will Harry die? Who knows. But you can bet that plenty of readers, unable to stand the suspense, will turn to the back page as soon as they get their precious copy. Let's hope they don't immediately tell everyone else in the queue - but pretty soon anyone who wants to know will know - for a start, it will be all over the Internet by 1.01 am.

Knowing the end might spoil the read, but Harry Potter is more than a book. He is a multi-media phenomenon, with a life of his own well beyond the bookshops, libraries and even cinemas.

I can't tell you what happens - I don't know. Reviewers get no early copies and have to wait until 1 am just like everyone else. But here is the blurb that appears on the jacket of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: “Harry has been burdened with a dark, dangerous and seemingly impossible task: that of locating and destroying Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes. Never has Harry felt so alone, or faced a future so full of shadows. But Harry must somehow find within himself the strength to complete the task he has been given. He must leave the warmth, safety and companionship of The Burrow and follow without fear or hesitation the inexorable path laid out for him ...”

Yeah, right. No surprises there, but we do know that two important characters will die. And it's only one more sleep until we know who they are.

Pottermania is every bit as big in South Africa as elsewhere - the release of the latest Potter movie set a new industry record here for the biggest Friday box office on a five-day opening weekend and launch parties for the new book are being held all around the country. The biggest bashes, hosted by Exclusive Books, are happening at Canal Walk in Cape Town, Montecasino in Johannesburg and the Midlands Mall in Pietermaritzburg, which is the main KwaZulu-Natal venue for a Potter party.

From 9 pm until everyone has got their copies some time after 1 am and rushed off home to read them, it will be party time in the Midlands Mall centre court, complete with a recreation of Diagon Alley (the main wizard shopping street for those not in the know) with eight shop windows dedicated to wizarding, including owls (real ones will be in attendance) and Quidditch equipment. And while everyone waits for the magic hour, the “Hogwartz Midnight Orchestra” will play spooky and magical music.

Potter fancy dress is being encouraged, with prizes for the best costumes. Exclusive Books manager Cheryl Marwick has got three precious copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to give away to the winners. There will also be a scavenger hunt, with prizes of sweet hampers. This is going to be one party not to miss. Other bookshops in KwaZulu-Natal getting into Pottermania mode are Exclusives at the Pavilion, Gateway and La Lucia. Great Books at Gateway is also going to be open from midnight to 1 am.

By Wednesday, a quick phone round local bookshops suggested that, come Saturday morning, at least 800 people in Pietermaritzburg will be engrossed in their pre-ordered copies - ordered from Exclusive Books, Cascades Bookshop and ABC at the Quarry - and Exclusive's at the Pavilion have taken over 1 000 pre-orders. However, party poopers CNA are so caught up in the secrecy hype that they refuse to say how many people have ordered from them, only admitting that there has been “a great deal of interest in the book”.

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