Singapore

Wizards rise early for Harry Potter launch

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

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

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 wizarding best.

Eager fan Huang Yiyun, 21, sacrificed sleep to be among the first in line at Popular at Bras Basah Complex.

The student told The New Paper: "I've been a fan since I was in kindergarten so I am excited. I didn't sleep and took a cab to get here. How big of a fan am I? The biggest."

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

No surprise that the highly-anticipated release also coincides with the birthdays of both the titular character and his creator, author J K Rowling.

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

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.

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.

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.

Set nineteen years later after events in the last book, Harry is now 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 was Ms Mavis Tan, 24.

The bank employee, who read her first Potter book when she was seven, said: "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.

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

The writer was 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."

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