Singapore

Cursed Child casts spell over local Potter fans

Muggles in S'pore queued from as early as 5am for release of published script from new play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

If midnight is the witching hour, 7am yesterday was the wizarding hour.

While the rest of the nation was slumbering, hundreds of excited Potterheads were making their way to bookstores here.

Queues at Kinokuniya's Ngee Ann City branch and Popular's Bras Basah Complex outlet formed by 5.30am, with many - young and old - dressed in their wizardly best.

One eager fan sacrificed sleep to be among the first in line at Popular.

Student Huang Yiyun, 21, told The New Paper: "I've been a fan since I was in kindergarten so I am excited whenever a new book comes out. I didn't sleep and took a cab to get here. How big a fan am I? The biggest."

BIG FAN: Among the first people in the queue at Popular's Bras Basah Complex Branch was student Huang Yiyun. TNP PHOTO: NOOR ASHIKIN ABDUL RAHMAN

At 7.01am - following the worldwide launch tied to the book's 12.01am release in London - bright-eyed Muggles here finally got their hands on a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I and II.

TNP PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

The highly-anticipated release of the Harry Potter book coincides with the birthday of both the titular character and his creator, author J. K. Rowling.

Both bookstores organised elaborate Harry Potter-themed parties yesterday to celebrate the eighth book in the series and the first in nearly a decade.

BUDDING WIZARDS: Friends Yu Xiu Wu (left) and Brandy Guo (right) pose in their house robes during Kinokuniya's Magical HP8 Party to celebrate the international release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

The first novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was released in 1997 to great success, setting Rowling on a journey from struggling single mum to best-selling billionaire.

The books have sold over 400 million copies, are available in 68 languages and were adapted into a blockbuster film series.

At Kinokuniya, eager fans counted down to 7.01am before rushing through the store entrance to purchase the book and take part in the HP8 Magical Party.

BUDDING WIZARDS: Eager Potterheads rush towards Kinokuniya for its Magical HP8 Party (above) to celebrate the international release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. TNP PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Some who dressed up got to show off their Potter knowledge by performing their favourite spells and imitating beloved characters during a cosplay competition.

Others were content with finding quiet spots in the store and diving straight into the book.

POTTER MANIA: Some eager fans at Kinokuniya dived straight into their newly-purchased copies of the script at the bookstore.

Those expecting the classic Rowling prose may be disappointed. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not a novel nor is it solely by Rowling.

It is the script of the West End play of the same name.

REUNITING WITH HARRY

Set 19 yearsafter events in the last book, the script has Harryas an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic and a father of three children, one of whom - Albus Severus - struggles with his father's legacy.

The first person to pick up a copy at Kinokuniya was Ms Mavis Tan, 24.

The bank employee, who read her first Potter book when she was seven, said: "I look forward to seeing all my favourite characters again.

"I'd like to find out what happens to Albus, see the friends he makes at school and see if he gets closer to Scorpius Malfoy (the son of Harry's school nemesis, Draco)."

At Popular, the Great Hall Private Party saw over 100 specially invited fans take part in four Hogwartian activities - the Sorting Hat ceremony, Quidditch Pong, Horcrux Hunt and Spell It Like Hermione.

Only after completing all stations could they graduate with a "Degree of Honorary Witch or Wizard", and receive a personalised certificate.

Those craving a morning sugar rush made a beeline for the Great Hall-themed snack booth where Butterbeer and delicious treats like cauldron-shaped cakes and golden snitches - Ferrero Rocher with added "wings"- awaited them.

At least one of the attendees at Popular knew the contents before opening the book.

Writer Theresa Tan, 48, had dressed as the wise Professor Minerva McGonagall, and her two daughters, aged 15 and nine, were dressed as Bellatrix Lestrange and Harry Potter's daughter respectively.

Madam Tan had been lucky enough to watch the play in London two weeks ago.

"I love that my daughters and I get the rare chance to dress up," she told The New Paper.

"As for the book, I think fans will enjoy it. The play was superb and exceeded expectations. I was watching it with my mouth open."

booksHarry Potterfans