I recently returned to the U.S. after a ten day vacation in Ireland and London (and the fact that I first typed that sentence as “I just returned to the States after a ten day holiday in Ireland and London” means that I’m still there in my heart, clearly). In Ireland, I did wonderful things like drink a lot of beer, hang out in pubs, and win tiny bottles of Bushmills on literary pub crawls with my mad literary knowledge (i.e. shouting “Beckett! Joyce! Beckett!” at every trivia question until something came up right). And in London, I visited Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Like you do.
First of all, let me just say that if you are thinking about taking the Harry Potter studio tour, DO IT. It is worth the price of the ticket. It is worth the price of the PLANE ticket. I have about a zillion pictures of it, and I’ll post many of them as I talk about the tour, but honestly, nothing can compare with standing there and seeing those things with your own eyes. If you are a spoilerphobic type person who would rather just experience the whole thing for yourself, you can leave this post right here with my full-fledged, Potter fan stamp of approval. Go do it.
But if you want to hear what’s in store for you before you start planning that trip to London, please follow me under the cut for a little play-by-play of what was truly a Potter fan’s dream come true. Continue reading
I started reading Harry Potter much earlier than my peers, a fact that I kept to myself like a dirty, dirty secret. I must have gotten the first one in 1998 or 99…my mom gave it to me, and I was like “Moooom I’m too OLD for these!” Oblivious to my horror of being seen with a (gasp) middle reader when I was sooo aged, my mom insisted that it was really good (someone had told her about it I guess), and since I will read literally anything in front of me (like Ron Burgandy), I quickly got sucked into Harry’s world (sidebar: ironically, my mom claims now that she never bought my first Harry Potter, she never endorsed him, and that he is evil and satanic. James Dobson told her).
I kept Harry to myself until the movies started coming out and it was socially acceptable to be obsessed with him. Like everyone else, I waited feverishly for every new release—my similarly bibliophilic dad would pre-order them for me as a way to lure me home to visit. The summer that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince was released, I was studying abroad in Cuba. The very night that I came home, my mom and dad picked me up at the airport with my copy of the newest book. I started reading it in the car on the way home, and stayed up until I finished it.
And then I read it again the next day. While eating whatever food I could get slathered in ketchup. They don’t have real ketchup in Cuba, fyi if you ever go, bring your own. I missed it more than my family.
Anyway, even though I couldn’t wait for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I similarly dreaded my favorite series ending. I kept hoping JK had gotten it wrong, and she couldn’t fit it all into one book, and would have to write another (which I’m still holding out for).
And when I first read Deathly Hallows, I was bitterly disappointed. But perhaps that’s too strong. I was just kind of disappointed. The bitter part can probably just be attributed to my neggy* feelings over the extinction of the series. However, I remember thinking the last book wasn’t as great as the previous six, felt a little crowded and rushed, and in general displeased me.
I stayed up all last night to reread it for this post (in comparison to the first six, which have each been read at least 5 times [and some as many as 15] I think until last night I’d only read Deathly Hollows twice). And this time around, maybe it was the nostalgia or the fact that I had an entire chocolate cake, but I enjoyed it much more.
Some awesome things about Deathly Hollows:
-We find out so much more about Dumbledore and his past. Since I’m at a different place at my life now, this meant more to me than it did in my prior readings. I found myself relating a lot more to Harry, and the feelings of guilt and regret from losing someone, and realizing how little you knew about their past, or having questions you wished you had asked.
-We get to see Ron and Hermione finally get together
-Mrs. Weasley calls someone a bitch and kills them
-We get to finally put all the pieces together about Snape and his twisted feelings about Harry, Harry’s parents, Voldemort and Dumbledore. I always enjoy the parts when we go in someone’s memories. ALWAYS.
-I liked seeing Neville step up and take charge in Hogwarts with the D.A. Especially now that he’s gotten so good looking.
Some things I’m not so fond of about Deathly Hallows:
-It takes them more than half the book to find and destroy the locket, only a few chapters to find and destroy the cup, and about three pages to find and destroy the diadem. This is what I’m talking about when I say it felt rushed.
-They spend entirely too much time in the woods
-So many people die. I know this is unavoidable, and I probably would complain about the lack of realism if they didn’t die (I know, there’s no pleasing me) but I can’t help but mourn some beloved characters right? Especially you Fred. I’ll never let go.
-The epilogue where everyone’s grown up, and married, and happy, and has kids named after dead people, and going to Hogwarts. It was too cheery and fake for me. Either write seven more books about Harry and Ginny growing up, getting married, gaining weight, and having mid-life crises, or don’t bother. I mean it Rowling.
No matter my complaints, I was sad to finish the series. And now the movies are over! What are we going to look forward to now?