BETHEL, Conn. -- Hidden in the back room of Byrd's Books in Bethel are boxes marked "Do not open until 12:01 a.m. July 31."
Are you excited to read 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts I & II'?
Yes, I can't wait to buy it at midnight
Yes, but I can wait a few days
No, I'm satisfied with the ending
Inside those boxes are copies of the newest Harry Potter book, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts I & II."
At 12:01 a.m. July 31 -- and not a moment before -- the book, the eighth in the beloved fantasy series by British author J.K. Rowling, will be unwrapped for the adoring public.
Like many other bookstores across Fairfield County and the nation, Byrd's Books is hosting a launch party to meet the demand of excited Harry Potter fans. It will begin at 11:30 p.m. July 30 at the store on 126 Greenwood Ave. The event is free.
Kids, as well as adults, can come in costume, enjoy cupcakes, and take part in a treasure hunt and trivia game.
According to Byrd's owner Alice Hutchinson, Book Eight is a scripted play that will enjoy its world premiere this weekend on the West End of London, "which is equivalent to Broadway in New York," she said.
"This is our very first Harry Potter party and we're very excited," said Hutchinson. "We have all grown up with these books. Harry Potter has encouraged a love of reading in so many kids."
One of those kids is 10-year-old Max Coisman of Danbury, who has read all the books to date -- and so have his parents, Alex and Angela.
Max has high expectations for the newest book since he wasn't too pleased with the seventh one. "The seventh book was a such a letdown because J.K. Rowling had to tie up all of the loose ends from the other books. I am really hoping that she can recapture the magic (pun intended) from the first few books with 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.'"
Alex Coisman said he might be even a bigger Harry Potter fan than his son. "With these books, you are completely immersed into this fantasy world and that's a hard thing to do," he said. "Both J.K. Rowling's character development, her description of the magical beasts and the settings are so evocative that you don't even have to see the movie. You read the book and it's right there."
A description of the book says it takes place 19 years after Book 7 ended (minus the epilogue). Harry Potter is now 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," the teaser says at Amazon. "As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places."
Hutchinson, a former Bethel first selectman who has a bachelor's degree in theater, said the fact that the book is a play "is going to be easier to read in some respects and it will also a allow a new generation to become acquainted with reading plays."
Max said, "I love the Harry Potter series because it has characters who are strong and powerful kids. Harry Potter -- a kid -- defeats one of the most evil villains of all time. It makes me feel that anything is possible."
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