What You Need to Know About the 8th Harry Potter Book

Fans purchase copies of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' after the book's release in Germany in 2007. Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

For a generation of readers, the anticipation of a new Harry Potter book meant camping out in bookstore parking lots and attending midnight release parties complete with costumes and homemade butterbeer. So yesterday’s announcement that the boy wizard’s story would continue in a new book has set the Potter fandom ablaze.

However, this time around, there’s no need to pitch a tent in the Barnes & Noble parking lot as the book will be available for download worldwide on July 31 — Harry’s birthday.

But amid all the excitement about the new installment, J.K. Rowling wants readers to understand that “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” isn’t a novel.

The book is the script of a sold-out play by the same name, which is opening in London this summer, and it was penned by Rowling, playwright Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany. According to Rowling’s website Pottermore, the script is "officially the eighth story in the Harry Potter canon.”

The play picks up where the seventh book in the bestselling series left off, 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts when the children of Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione are attending the wizarding school.

As all Potter fans know, the book series ends with, "The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well." However, while little is known about the plot of the play, its title and its official synopsis hint that perhaps not all is well anymore. The synopsis reads:

"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 play premieres in London the day before “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” will be released by Little Brown in the U.K. and Scholastic in the U.S. Digital editions of the script will be released by Pottermore on the same day.

But if you can’t wait until July to delve into Harry’s magical world again, there are some sequels and even a prequel (sort of) that you can read to keep your muggle heart satiated.

The prequel

Rowling has said on numerous occasions that she has no intention of writing a Harry Potter prequel, but in 2008, she did write 800 words of one for a charity auction. The brief story shares an adventure of James Potter and his best friend, Sirius Black, and it left fans begging for more.


While not exactly a prequel, Rowling reveals all sorts of secrets and character histories on Pottermore. From McGonagall’s childhood to Umbridge’s muggle mother, the site boasts a wealth of information that’s become canon, as well as magical short stories penned by Rowling herself.

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’

The movie won’t be in theaters until November, but you can get your hands on the Hogwarts-assigned textbook, which was "written" by the character that will star in the film. In addition to “Fantastic Beasts,” Rowling has said she’ll be working on two other films, which will be “neither a prequel or a sequel, but an extension of the wizarding world.”

The James Potter series

These books are an unofficial continuation of the Potter story, which follow the adventures of Harry’s oldest son, James Sirius Potter. Originally written as fan fiction, the books have become an international success and been translated into several languages. According to the series’ author, G. Normal Lippert, Rowling is aware of the books and has been “very cordial and encouraging.”