September the first 2017 is the date that, in Harry Potter lore, Albus Severus Potter boards the Hogwarts Express for the first time.
It’s the final epilogue to the Harry Potter book series, as well as the very first scene of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the two-part play that you’ve only experienced in script form, because JK Rowling decided to tell the next chapter of her story in an expensive art medium that’s tied to a single geographical location.
So today we celebrate 19 Years Later, the moment that ended our love affair with Harry Potter novels by wrapping up everyone’s favorite book series.
Today’s the day Albus Severus Potter boards the Hogwarts Express at King’s Cross for the first time #19yearslater ⚡️
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) September 1, 2017
It still kind of hurts.
This should probably be prefaced with a disclaimer: not everyone hates the final few pages of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Some people love this part of the fiction, as it shows out heroes enjoying a life of quiet bliss, in which everything is fine and nobody has any big problems.
As an ending to such an impactful book series, though, it’s always felt a little empty.
Harry Potter saves the world, and then settles in for two decades of empty nothingness. No big adventures, no huge escapades. A lifetime of simply ministry work in which nothing particularly exciting happens again until one of his kids goes off to Hogwarts.
The story lacks a moment of the hero riding off into the sunset, instead ending with a fizzle as we learn that all out favorite characters simply get old and boring once they leave school. The end of the Harry Potter books is the same as the beginning of The Incredibles.
It doesn’t help that 19 Years Later feels like bad fanfiction, with its ill-defined new characters and cutesy poetic children names.
Then, we got The Cursed Child. Admittedly, those who’ve seen it live have said that, as a visual spectacle, it’s amazing. It’s just hard to take the story seriously.
Scorpius Malfoy is amazing – perhaps one of the best characters in all Harry Potter fandom – but he’s the one shining star in this story about time travel, polyjuice potion, the Tri-Wizard Tournament, Voldemort’s secret daughter, and the death of some guy called Craig that nobody cares about.
The Cursed Child is essentially a Greatest Hits story, bringing back all the popular elements from the Harry Potter novels, without saying anything unique. It’s a very silly read, and the fact that the story is told over two parts of a play that can only be seen in London (for a lot of money) mean that it’s essentially a Harry Potter experience that’s exclusively targeted towards rich people.
JK Rowling took the worst chapter of the entire Harry Potter book saga, and made it a two-part theatrical experience that nobody can actually go see.
19 Years Later hurts because it’s a poorly-written epilogue that feels like a let-down when you’re reading the books. It hurts because it’s a long, weird post-script theater piece that JK Rowling doesn’t want the majority of her audience to be able to enjoy.
Perhaps today isn’t really worth celebrating as such. Instead, we commemorate the real-world date that JK Rowling’s beloved children’s book series became just a bit too convoluted, exclusive, and self-indulgent.
Besides, it doesn’t have enough Neville in it, and that feels like the biggest mistake of all.