Cover image via The Fantasy Forum.
When I began my Harry Potter re-read in late September last year, I was convinced it would only take me seven weeks to read the whole series. One book a week. I got that, easy.
My Harry Potter re-read took me three and half months, from the end of September to the beginning of January. Having a job that really ramps up at the end of the year, the holidays, a husband who needed surgery, friends, family, and general adulting really cut into my time spent in the wizarding world. While I would have liked to re-read The Order of the Phoenix in 25 straight hours like I did the first time, it was more important to do things like go to work and clean my house. Unfortunately.
Despite the longer time frame than I expected, re-reading the entire Harry Potter series straight through was absolutely wonderful. It was like meeting an old friend for coffee and talking about the same seven stories you’ve talked about for 15 years, but you delight in them all the same. Reading books 1-5 again helped me make connections I hadn’t noticed before without the knowledge of The Half-Blood Prince and The Deathly Hallows. While a total blast, it was also a bit depressing re-reading books 1-5 because I knew what was coming next. I took my biggest breaks from the books during the holidays when I knew something devastating was going to happen. (Knowing that Sirius was going to die in two chapters’ time made me put down The Order of the Phoenix for a solid month. I couldn’t face it.) But I did have a better time re-reading books 6 and 7 because I didn’t remember as many details from those books. I remembered the important things, of course, but the exact sequence of events was fuzzy for me. I discovered many new things in my re-read of those two books, and they kept me turning the pages far more rapidly than the earlier books.
However, there was one huge downside to wrapping up my re-read when I did. Last Thursday while getting ready for work, I got the heartbreaking news that Alan Rickman had died. I gasped aloud when I read the alert on my phone. Later in the day, I dreaded coming home and picking up The Deathly Hallows because I knew I was just 100 pages from Severus Snape’s death…
Now, I tend to be someone who raises her nose at movie adaptations of books, and while I don’t love the Harry Potter movies, the casting of them was superb. Throughout my re-read, many of the characters showed up as the actors from the movies in my head (with the exception of Lupin and Sirius. I picture them much differently). Truly, the most vivid character to me was Alan Rickman’s Snape. That’s who I saw for three and a half months in my head.
Alan Rickman played many memorable characters, and millions of people will remember him in several different roles. But, to an entire generation of Millennials, Alan Rickman was–is–Severus Snape. Reading Snape’s death in The Deathly Hallows one day after Alan Rickman’s death was like losing Alan Rickman/Snape twice in two days. They hurt equally because two different worlds lost a great and talented man.
This blog is about stories, but no stories are complete without the characters who participate in them. Harry Potter is full of incredible characters, and each one lives in my heart: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Snape, Fred, George, Dobby, Tonks… all of them. Like the world they live in, like the stars from the pages that are tattooed on my arm, they will always be a part of me. It’s hard to comprehend just how ingrained Harry Potter is in me as a person, but I’m so glad it is.
And I always will be.