In Brief

Harry Potter frenzy sparked by new book release

Something wicked this way comes as JK Rowling's boy wizard returns in an 'eighth' book

This summer is set to be a busy one for Harry Potter fans, with two very big events lined up.

First, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a play written by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, makes its West End debut on 30 July. Then the next day, its script will be published in book form by Little, Brown Book Group. (Oh, and 31 July is also the boy wizard's birthday, as any follower will know.)

As news of the new book makes headlines around the world, here's what we know so far:

Why is the book being published?

Rowling and her team received a "huge number of appeals from fans who can't be in London to see the play and who would like to read the play in book format," said David Shelley, the chief executive of Little, Brown. "We are absolutely delighted to be able to make it available for them."

What's it about?

The plot centres on Harry's struggles as a grown-up wizard, although Rowling has repeatedly said it is a stand-alone story and not a sequel.

According to the synopsis, the play is set 19 years after the original series ended, when Harry is an "overworked" Ministry of Magic employee, a husband and a father of three.

"Harry struggles to keep his past buried and move on, while his youngest son Albus must bear the weight of a family legacy that he does not want," it says. "As the past fuses with the present, father and son face an ominous truth: sometimes, darkness originates where you least expect it."

What's the reaction been so far?

Less than 24 hours after the announcement, the script had already topped the charts on both Amazon's and Waterstone's book lists.

Waterstone's chief executive James Daunt said there are "no sweeter three words to the ears of a bookseller than 'the eighth story'".

He added: "Younger booksellers now face, of course, the dubious prospect of their older colleagues rolling out war stories of Harry Potter launches for the next five months. On 31 July, we will put these into the shade."

Little, Brown have cautioned that the script is a "special rehearsal edition" of the text used during preview performances of the show ahead of its official opening. That means that after the preview period ends, fans can expect another finalised collector's edition to be released.

All this hype around the announcement should come as no surprise, however, as Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was widely anticipated by fans: when tickets for the play were released, the show sold out in just eight hours, with more than 175,000 tickets bought.

Is it really an eighth book?

Fans have been rejoicing over what they see as another book in the Harry Potter series. Rowling, however, was quick to dismiss that notion:

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