In the eighth book in the Harry Potter series, a major element is a pendant called a Time-Turner introduced in an earlier novel. A prized possession of Hermione Granger, this necklace allows Rowling’s characters to travel in time between the distant past and the present. In the present, where this volume begins, we meet figures whom we already know well, plus their progeny: 1) Harry, his wife Ginny Weasley, and their three children – Albus, James, and Lily; 2) Hermione and Ron Granger-Weasley and their daughter Rose; and 3) Draco Malfoy, his wife Astoria, and their son Scorpius. Soon afterwards other familiar personages, such as Hagrid, the Dursley family, Dumbledore, and Professor McGonagall, re-appear. It is 22 years down the track.

Following the introduction of a new character, a young woman named Delphi Diggory, who is looking after her elderly uncle Amos, we are catapulted into a compelling fantasy. Its aim is a reversal of the past, to be effected by the Time-Turner locket. What Amos wants is an apparent impossibility: his son Cedric, killed near the end of the previous volume, to be restored to life. It is up to Albus, who befriends Scorpius, to carry on his father’s work at Hogwarts by fulfilling this transformation with the help of his new and best friend. Their enchanting school still exists, even though Harry and Hermione now occupy major positions in the Ministry of Magic.

Early on, Harry and Albus have a terrible fight. To his great regret, after Albus tells Harry he regrets having him as a father, Harry responds by saying that he wishes Albus were not his son. Ginny, who overhears their angry conversation, is rightly appalled; but she cannot prevent the fight’s inevitable repercussions from occurring. Not surprisingly, these repercussions have as many twists and turns as the maze depicted years before by J.K. Rowling. At one stage, even the brooms of the major characters disappear. Spells cast in the hope that these brooms will suddenly re-emerge fail to work. As a result, everybody struggles to continue to do what once could be taken for granted.

Even though this volume consists of two dramas rather than a lengthy novelistic rendering of key events, it is remarkably faithful to the spirit of its predecessors. Entertainment, propelled chiefly by humour and verbal gymnastics, abounds. Since all fantasy thrives on magic, occurrences that defy rational explanation surprise both the protagonists and enthralled readers. In the end, however, as in previous volumes, realism triumphs in ways that cannot be fully anticipated.

In 2007 Dr Susan Reibel Moore wrote an overview of the Harry Potter series for MercatorNet.  The grandmother of four boys and a girl, she lives in Sydney.