Avid Harry Potter fans followed a series of online clues yesterday that led them to Pottermore.com – a fairly standard “coming soon” website with a magenta background and a couple of owls… oh, and a signature of one very famous author: J.K. Rowling.

As is apt for the author of one of the most popular fantasy series ever, Rowling’s new website is shrouded in mystery. No one seems to know what’s “coming soon,” but there is plenty of speculation.

Click on the owls on Pottermore, and you’ll be taken to a YouTube page that, again, has very little information. “The owls are gathering,” it reads, “find out soon why.” There’s a large countdown clock on the page, indicating that “soon” will occur in 6 days, 6 hours, 26 minutes, and 9 seconds (at the time of publishing this story).

It’s been almost five years since the last book in the Harry Potter series was published. And if that wasn’t enough of a bittersweet closure for fans, the timing of Rowling’s latest announcement will come just prior to the release next month of the last installment in the film version of the Harry Potter series – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.

Rowling has long insisted that she is done writing novels in the series, but fans have remained hopeful that she’d change her mind. So no surprise, the countdown clock at Pottermore is reigniting some of their excitement – even more so, perhaps because details about the project are almost non-existent. The Guardian reports that an editor at the fansite HPANA said they had seen a “sneak preview” of Pottermore “and it is breathtaking in scope, detail and sheer beauty.”

The Digital Harry Potter?

Speculation across fansites is rampant today, with many wondering if Rowling could be launching an “Encyclopaedia” of the Potter universe, something she’d hinted at before via her website. Others are hoping that the announcement could be as simple as the launch (finally) of the digital versions of her novels. Rowling does hold the digital rights to the series, but she has not made any moves to release e-book versions.

And still others are hoping that Rowling has changed her mind and that Pottermore really does mean we’ll see more Potter – more Harry Potter novels, that is.