Final Harry Potter novel spawns glut of spin-offs

Posted: August 3, 2007 in Harry Potter, Novel

Children all over the world are waiting with bated breath to discover the fate of their favourite boy wizard at the hands of his arch-enemy Voldemort.

But until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final instalment of J K Rowling’s hugely successful series, goes on sale on 21 July, they can whet their appetites with a glut of spin-off books that predict the ending.

Publishers are capitalising on “Pottermania”, with titles that anticipate what will happen in the final volume or provide behind-the-scenes analysis.

They include The End of Harry Potter? An Unauthorised Guide To The Mysteries That Remain by David Langford, The Unauthorised Harry Potter by Adam-Troy Castro, The Making of the Potterverse: A Month-by-Month Look at Harry’s First 10 Years by Edward Gross, and George Beahm’s Muggles and Magic: An Unofficial Guide.

Nicolette Jones, the author and children’s literary critic, said predictive books, guessing how the hugely successful series might end, reflect a “game every child enthusiast wants to play” while they are waiting for the real thing.

“We all like to play games that speculate on endings so I think it’s a forgivable way of cashing in on the Harry Potter success story. My own daughter and her friend wrote their own predictions and sealed them in an envelope and some have come true. It’s the thrill of the guessing game.

“But these predictive books will obviously have a short shelf life because what everyone really wants to read is J K Rowling’s actual book,” she said.

The spin-off phenomenon is by no means unique to Harry Potter – and can be educational as well as entertaining. Ms Jones said: “Success breeds imitation in literature. And if there are books abut the mythology of Harry Potter that look at, for example, the heritage behind some of the creatures in the series, such as basilisks or centaurs, then it takes the interest further for children and encourages them to look closely at what they are reading,” she said.

Although there is a tight window of opportunity before the final instalment resolves the many mysteries surrounding the good and the bad at Hogwarts, industry experts say the spin off scene will not end there and that the last publication will create a buzz that will last way beyond July.

Ms Jones said she had already spoken to a number of academics who are working on studies on the series.

“What we may get is a series of academic studies of the phenomenon. I have already met people who are writing their theses on Harry Potter and there are probably a lot of people on children’s literature courses analysing the whole marketing phenomenon,” she said.

J K Rowling herself has written two spin-offs of her stories in aid of Comic Relief: Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

She is now reported to be planning an encyclopaedia of magic, which will be a complete guide to Harry Potter’s universe.

A short guide to Rowling’s creation

* Harry gains fame within the wizard world when he is just a baby for surviving an attack by the evil sorcerer Lord Voldemort. The meeting leaves him with a lighting-shaped scar on his forehead … and seeking closure after the death of his parents.

He is packed off to Hogwarts, the boarding school for young wizards and witches, reached by a train from platform nine and three-quarters at King’s Cross station, London.

Harry makes friends at school with fellow pupils including Hermione, a resourceful but bossy boffin, and Ron, his bungling yet loyal roommate, as well as with Hagrid, a giant and teacher.

The school is divided into four houses, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw and Slytherin. Harry has to be on his guard to stave off attacks from Draco Malfoy, a member of the evil Slytherins, not least because of jealousy at Harry’s success at Quidditch, a school sport that is played on broomsticks.

Harry realises that his nemesis, Voldemort, who he thought had disappeared completely, is plotting to return to wreak havoc for him.

The young wizard has a series of death-defying adventures and confrontations with, among others, a three-headed dog, a venomous basilisk and a bunch of giant spiders. His magic skills are tested.

As Harry progresses through the school, he faces other obstacles, such as his affection for Cho, a fellow student at Hogwarts, and his performance at Quidditch.

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*This article is written by Arifa Akbar, published at Art Independen online, 14 Maret 2007

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