[Editor’s Note: OK, we really don’t have an editor (yes, there is an argument to made that maybe we should). I just wanted to add that I’m trying like hell not to spoil this book for anyone, so if you don’t want to know what happens in this book DON’T READ AFTER THE JUMP! If you’ve read the book or don’t care to have the ending ruined, feel free to read on.]

I didn’t wait in line to buy my book at midnight this past Friday, in magical costume, with signs expressing my Potterfilia. On the other hand, I also didn’t pre-order at Amazon – because they couldn’t guarantee delivery until 7pm which would have meant a loss of too many prime reading hours. Instead I drove to my favorite independent book store and paid (gasp) full price, eschewing all the various sales and discounts. I imagined that Harry would have been proud of me standing up for the little guy.

Once I got there things went a little funny. The store’s subdued reaction to this release (maybe they were exhausted from their partying the night before?) was mirrored by my own. Though they had huge stacks of pre-orders behind the desk, there was no front window display (they had gratuitous ones for book five and six). I actually had to go into the children’s section and look for it. I did find it (one of three copies strewn upon various surfaces) but I reached for it with little excitement this time, finally fully realizing that, good or bad, this was the end.

Upon arrival home I paced from room to room, carrying it without opening it, feeling its heft and gathering the courage I didn’t know I would need. I knew once I began that I would read until I was finished. I am hard core in that respect; I would finish by Monday. Beyond small breaks to catch my breath, eat a snack or stretch my legs, I didn’t stop. Really, I couldn’t stop. The action starts on page one and doesn’t let up for 748 pages. I read it on the 15 minute ride to my parents’ house for dinner. Had I somehow found a way to walk the dog or shower and read the same time, I would have done it.

Unfortunately life did interrupt such an ambitious reading session. I’m not a kid on summer vacation who can stay up all night if I want to. Last night, after various fits and spurts and more than two hours past my normal bedtime, I finally closed the book. I sat silently for a few moments. Probing myself for any emotional injures, I realized I was left with a hollow feeling of sorrow which had nothing to do with the various deaths within the pages. Have no doubts about this -there were many deaths (two before page 80), some of them shocking, others heartbreaking and one in particular which brought tears to my eyes.

My sorrow was really for the answered questions (and yes, they are all answered).

[One last warning, don’t go any further if you don’t really want to know. If you haven’t read the book, no peeking. This isn’t a synopsis, you won’t get the Cliff Notes version here. Go read the book!!!]

That sound you just heard? That’s the collective sigh of relief. For many things, but mostly because Rowling did not fail her readers. She did not leave us to fill in the blanks. HOORAY! Old friends and enemies returned. Everyone took sides (thought not necessarily the ones you thought). With all that talk about souls it’s no wonder that each character’s shone brightly (or darkly as the case may be). All grayness disapeared as the sides of Light and Dark took a stand against each other.

Not that it’s perfect, but its imperfections just show how much Rowling loved these stories and these characters. Surely she got some pushback from her own creations. Dumbledore may have gone quietly, but Snape, never one to acquiesce gracefully, likely grumbled about his lack of attention and subsequent death (I can hear him now, it’s always about Harry isn’t it?). In this valiant attempt to tie up loose ends, it often gets slightly messy (there’s still some fuzziness about wand-lore that I’m not sure of). Rowling did after all, write herself into a few corners. As crafty as she is though, she wrote herself back out of them. The Hallows was a stroke of brilliance. What better way to save her hero? It was also a great insight to Harry’s ever blossoming character that he chose Horcruxes over Hallows.

I love that we get to see some seedy underbellyness about Dumbledore, because like Harry, I was irritated that he left them in the lurch (yeah, I know it’ supposed to happen that way mythically, but it still pisses me off!). Aberforth, where have you been all my life? He should have been more present in previous books; I like his cheek. And perhaps as a second sister I feel his neglect more potently.

Neville. He finally got the attention he deserved. I loved that he took over the revolution (his word) after Harry left. He really grew into a strong and formidable person – the pride of his Gran (and his parents if they could only know). It was only fitting that he killed Nagini and secured his placed in magical history.

So much, so much! A wild ride surely, with an ending that was fitting. The epilogue, though entirely unnecessary for adult readers, was still appreciated. It’s nice to know that, even if only in children’s stories, the bad guy can lose.