It's been nine years since the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. And it's just a few days until the grand (well, let's hope so) conclusion of the series graces our presence. And with what started as a pure word-of-mouth buzz from across the Pond has escalated into full-blown, worldwide mass hysteria.

Fans, websites and blogs are in utter delirium: Where are the final horcruxes? Is Dumbledore really dead?? What about Sirius??? What the hell are the Deathly Hallows???? What's going to happen to Hogwarts????? Are Hermione and Ron finally going to snog??????

Many of the, uh, dedicated (that's one word for it) fans are swearing off the Internet—the ultimate source for spoilers and assholes posting spoilers to unbeknownst readers like what happened with Book 6, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince—entirely for the month of July, until they finally have Book 7 in their grubby paws and have savored every last word.

It may seem a little silly to those few non-fans out there—magic and sorcery and schoolchildren and Voldemorts and such. But to those who turn their noses up at the series, calling it mere children's lit, or to even the naysayers citing the books an abomination unto the Church (or something like that): It's pretty clear you haven't even read any part of any of the books. They preach friendship, loyalty, morals, the ultimate triumph of good over evil. You know, good stuff. Promise.

Anyway, with all the hype surrounding Book 7's release, of course there are going to be several midnight release parties going on across the world. Barnes and Noble Metro Pointe will hold a Midnight Magic Costume Party, complete with various special Harry Potter events: enchanting activities, spellbinding prizes, photo opportunities, unique items for sale and even two special magic shows—and, of course, you'll be able to pick up your copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows come the strike of 12:01 a.m. Come dressed up in your best wizard regalia if you'd like, or just put on a hoodie and hide in the corner to watch others have their fun.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Midnight Magic Release Party at Barnes & Noble Metro Pointe, 901 B South Coast Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 444-1404; www.www.barnesandnoble.com. Fri., 9 p.m. Free.

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