What can we say? In our world as well as his, Harry Potter needs no introduction – he's The Boy Who Lived, the Chosen One, and the bestselling staple of pop culture who reintroduced magic into our dull, everyday lives. Deathly Hallows is the seventh and final installment in the Harry Potter series, which was published between 1997 and 2007. And the fact that J.K. Rowling took a decade was significant – after all, it meant that a whole generation grew up with Harry, following him from childhood to adulthood. So, of course, when this final book arrived, it was like the last time we all met up with a dear friend, someone we'd known and loved practically forever. All of Harry's readers and friends waited with bated breath to see what would become of the magical world we wanted desperately to be part of, and that we had become a part of as we learned and grew up with him.
We're not exaggerating when we say that the end of the Harry Potter series was a worldwide event. Within 24 hours of its release, Deathly Hallows sold a whopping and unprecedented eleven million copies. The accumulated hoopla surrounding the seven-book series has made J.K. Rowling the first author ever to reach billionaire status, and has changed the world of children's literature. Our friend Harry helped make young adult fiction a booming market, and reminded publishers of what parents have always known – that children are massive consumers (and we'd add that they love a good book as much as us adults do). Due to Harry Potter's enormous success, The New York Times even created an additional bestsellers list just for children's books.
But let's leave money aside and focus on what's really at stake in this last installment in the Harry Potter series. Sure, Deathly Hallows is significant on an economic level and a cultural one, but it's also tremendously important on a personal level to any reader of the Harry Potter books. This is the end of a long, long journey, and the complex blend of sadness, regret, and delight that it brings about is a reminder of just how much characters and their fictional worlds can touch our lives.
"Why should I care?" Why should I CARE? Are you serious? Have you been living in a Gringott's vault since the 1990s? The end of our relationship with Harry Potter is the end of an era… and it feels a little like the end of the world.
Don't look at us like that – we're deadly serious, and not exaggerating one bit. Really. We're totally serious. You may think that all these italics mean that we're being hyperbolic, but really, we're just being enthusiastic – gosh. This book has everything: Magic! Danger! Passion! Romance! Explosions! Life! Death! Life again! (Italics, exclamations – all excellent tools in hyperbole. But whatever.)
And, in the end, it's really life – actually, make that capital-L-Life – that this book, and this whole series is about. Millions of readers grew up alongside Harry, including a lot of us here at Shmoop, and reaching the end of his story is kind of like reaching the end of a long road that we've all traveled alongside our magical friend. When Harry realizes that his destiny is to die and he has to come to terms with his decision to follow through with it, we're also asked to consider what it means to die. More than in any of the other Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling probes us to come up with answers to the big, unanswerable questions of life. Harry's fate forces us to consider the very issues that we don't want to consider, but ultimately have to. And she reminds us that in order to appreciate or truly live life, one has to think about the shadow that's always just a step away – death.
So, yeah. This is indeed a matter of life and death – and those things, you have to admit, are kind of important. Suddenly, "Why should I care?" seems like a bigger question… it parallels the choice that Harry makes in the end, to return to life from the kind of pre-death limbo he finds himself in. In short, he returns to life because he cares – and this reaffirmation of what life is really about (love, friendship, loyalty, and, you know, saving the world from evil and all that fun stuff) reminds us of why we should all care too.
The tagline says it all: this is the world's #1 Harry Potter fan site.
The Leaky Cauldron
Another incredibly popular Harry Potter site, with just about everything you'd need to know about Potterdom.
The Harry Potter Lexicon
Probably more than you'll ever need to know. Excellent.
The Mind Behind It All…
J.K. Rowling's cool website, with fun tidbits about the author and her books.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
This Universal Studios amusement park based on the Harry Potter universe looks incredible. We can't wait to go!
How Well Do You Know Book 7?
Quiz yourself on Deathly Hallows!
What's In A Name?
A fan site looks at the origins of names of spells, people, creatures, and places found in the Harry Potter series.
Bloomsbury's Harry Potter Site
The website for Harry Potter's UK publisher, which includes useful FAQs, info on Rowling, details on the myths that inspired some Harry Potter characters, and a fun trivia site that allows you to "Swot up on Potter."
Scholastic's Deathly Hallows Site
A great site from the American publisher, including a Pronunciation Guide (for those of us who can't figure out how to say "Firenze" properly, and who long ago needed help with such basics as "Hermione") and a Trivia Challenge.
Meet the Illustrator
Find out more about Mary GrandPre, the illustrator for the Scholastic editions of all of the Harry Potter books.
Enter At Your Own Risk
Wish that Snape and Lily ended up together? Or maybe Hermione and Krum? Check out alternate versions of the Harry Potter stories through (tons) of fanfiction. (We'll just stick with the originals, though. Hermione and Ron are just too cute together.)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I (2010)
OMG OMG OMG. We. Cannot. Wait. For. This. Deathly Hallows is so long and action-packed that it's being made into two movies; the first installation of the final movie is coming out in November 2010.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II (2011)
…yeah, and we're pretty darn excited about the end, too.
J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life
A documentary that focuses on Rowling as she finishes Deathly Hallows.
We Are Wizards
A hip documentary about the musical acts inspired by Harry Potter, released in 2008.
The Critical Stance
Famous literary critic Michiko Kakutani's review in The New York Times.
Snarkity snarkity snark…
A sassy blog commentary on the new Book 7 trailer, courtesy of The New York Times.
Harry Potter and… the brand new amusement park?
We've got to admit it, we're a little jealous of visitors to the new Harry Potter-themed amusement park in Orlando. If only Shmoop would believe our claim that a visit is a totally necessary research expense…
Looking for the post-epilogue scoop?
J.K. Rowling reveals what happens next for her beloved characters.
An absolutely amazing online collection of J.K. Rowling's interviews and TV appearances since 1997. A real treasure trove!
Harry Potter in the UK and US
Check out a list of the differences between Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the UK and US versions.
Here it is – the thrilling, terrifying, amazing trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, at the official website. We can hardly contain our excitement!
And A Brief Introduction…
Starring the director and producer of the new movie.
J. K. Rowling's Words of Wisdom
Watch J.K. Rowling's speech at Harvard University's commencement on June 5, 2008.
Rowling reads the opening pages of Deathly Hallows on the night the novel was released.
Rowling on Dateline
A 40-minute interview with Rowling on Dateline, just after she released Book 7.
A popular Harry Potter podcast, courtesy of MuggleNet.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Audiobook
Purchase and download the Audiobook from Random House Audio
A Slightly Different Harry…
The cover of the Bloomsbury (British) edition.
Harry, For Grownups?
We all know that there's no age limit for enjoying the Harry Potter books, but to make them more appealing to adults, a special cover was produced.
Unfold, and This Is What You Get…
The American edition cover, unfolded mural style.
What We Have To Look Forward To…
The film poster, featuring the mysterious silver doe.