Remember this guy? Many fans have compared The Scythe Wielder's Secret to the Harry Potter novels. As both a YA Fantasy author and a fan of the Potter world, I was excited to hear that 2016 is a HUGE year for JK Rowling's wizard creation. In fact, this will be the biggest year for Potter fans since Deathly Hallows.
In July, the wizard world of Hogwarts, Harry, and the Ministry of Magic makes it's stage debut with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. This is a two-part play, two separate live performances meant to be seen either in a single day or on consecutive nights. The story is set nineteen years after the books, and has been usig the following tagline:
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
The casting notice for the leads made waves on social media when Noma Dumenwezi, who is black, was cast as Hermione. Rowling insists the character was never solely intended to be white, although critics have argued that this is possibly another reinterprataion (such as when Dumbledore was announced to have been gay, a description not noticeable in the novels).
My take: mixed. I think it'll be interesting to see a stage adaptation of the characters, but from a story point of view, this sounds like an extended epilogue. The absolute WORST novel I read in the past decade was Rowling's The Casual Vacancy, There's no way the story will be as involved or as interesting as the original books, and to separate it into two separate shows sounds tedious, even for a lifetime live theatre person such as myself. Will I see the show if it comes to America? Of course. Will I rush to London to be one of the first ones in line- no way.
Then, in November, a new trilogy of movies begins. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an original movie by Rowling, set in New York 70years before Harry's birth. Warner Brothers have said that the movie series will be "at least" a trilogy, with possibly more films, and that the books are inspired by Rowling's book of the same name.
My take: optimistic, with a caveat. Story-wise, I'm excited to see an original story inspired by Rowling's original world. I'm curious as to what the wizarding side of New York looks like. The trailer doesn't reveal much, hinting at a Pandora's Box type story. The hesitation I feel about getting too excited are that the story's based on a book that's a textbook, no story at all. With that in mind, creating an original plot's fine, or even an original trilogy, but Warner Brothers hints that they might extend to a longer series of movies. This is concerning. It reminds me of Peter Jackson's treatment of the Hobbit, which should NOT have beeen extended to three movies.
As a fan of the Potter world, I am excited to see Harry's resurgence in 2016. As a YA Fantasy author myself, I'm especially hopeful that the increased interest in Potter will lead to an increased interest in YA Fantasy in general. We've been in a long period of YA dystopian hype, so perhaps the pendulum is swinging back towards fantasy.