What Will Fill the Gap When the Final School Bell Rings for ‘Harry Potter’?

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As J K Rowling heads toward the final installment of everyone’s favourite hero – ‘Harry Potter’ – the world is asking: “What can I read next?”

Harry has been such a part of so many people’s lives for so long. An entire generation of children have returned to reading, lured into a magical world of school age wizards. It has become an early icon of the 21st century – but everyone knows all children must grow up, and Harry’s school days are numbered.

With the final instalment of Harry’s adventures comes the end of and era and the question is – “What will they read next?”

Classic adventure books like ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ are flying off the shelves and endearing a whole new generation of young readers. But the 21st century reader is looking for something new.

It is hard to predict which of the “Harry wanna bes” will capture the heart of the world’s imagination, but critics are already suggesting that another British born author may have something.

Steve Bell, better known for his mystery thriller – ‘Secret Revelation’ has a little something up his wizard’s sleeve

– ‘The Magic Islands’-

“Like Rowling, I wrote the book as an adventure story for my children,” says the author Steve Bell. “I hadn’t thought much about it. It was not something I greatly promoted, but it seems to be catching everyone’s imagination.”

The book has been snuggled away on a corner of a website for a few years, free to download to anyone that wishes to read it. And steadily people have been downloading and spreading the word.

“It started a few months ago when I got a series of emails from people asking about the sequel,” says Steve. “I’d forgotten all about it. Then my inbox started to get flooded by requests for more information about the book, the characters and any possible film. I’ve been taken by surprise.”

This is an unusual tale of viral marketing, where the author had no idea it was going on. The file has been downloaded thousands of times and distributed widely among a growing fan base. It seems to have reached a tipping point.

“The requests for a printed version have been so numerous that in December I decided to re-issue the book. It will be available from Amazon this week.”

The book is a mixture between ‘Harry Potter’ ‘Lord of the Rings’ and ‘Treasure Island’

This well crafted blend of myth and magic may have re-found the magical recipe that made ‘Harry’ so palatable.

“It continues in the tradition of children’s classics.”

If the critics are right, we could already be seeing the next ‘Harry Potter’ even before the final school bell has been rung.

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Andrea Gavazzi

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