Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Author: J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany
Series? No. This is NOT the 8th book, OK.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Hachette Australia in exchange for an honest review. I also bought my own copy the day of release because it’s Harry Potter and I can’t help myself.
I had originally intended to wait until #ReadThemAllThon to begin reading Cursed Child as my Thunder Badge entry. Alas, on the release day I could not help myself – after seeing a couple of photos on twitter of people attending the release party, I quickly ran out to the shops and bought myself a copy. I devoured the story twice in the space of 12 hours, and only my friend borrowing the copy prevented me from reading it a third time.
Note that I will be splitting this review into two parts. The first part is my general, non-spoilery thoughts on the script. The second part will be a spoiler filled section detailing exactly which parts of the script worked or didn’t work for me, and will be marked. If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Cursed Child, please be mindful when you are scrolling through this post to avoid spoilers!
My emotions in regards to the Cursed Child are wildly mixed. On the one hand, the trip down memory lane was beautifully nostalgic, and I teared up several times while reading the script. However, many of the plot points in this story are simply absurd and outlandish – I can barely believe that J. K. Rowling gave it the green light and asked fans worldwide to consider it an ‘8th book’. Although I loved many things about the play, it’s still a far cry from the original seven Harry Potter books.
I have to admit, I had fairly low expectations going into this book. After all, it was a story that came with several caveats:
I) it was written by Jack Thorne, not JKR
II) it came in the format of a script
III) it was a story that heavily relied on the magic of theatre and actors, something a reader in Australia would not be able to experience.
Indeed, the script is profoundly flawed when scrutinised by readers unable to watch the play in person. The pacing was inconsistent and chaotic, the character development is near non-existent, and it was extraordinarily hard to reconcile some of the images the script asked us to imagine.
A lot of my enjoyment from the script stemmed from nostalgia and my deep love for the books that came before it. The play literally begins with the Epilogue of Deathly Hallows, with some crossover lines direct from the book. Reading it alone made me emotional, I was just so happy to see Harry Potter amongst people he loved and waving goodbye to his children at King’s Cross. So although later on in the script, Harry Potter once again appeared, a man completely different from the 17 years old I once knew and loved – I could wave aside the discrepancies in characterisation. Similarly, many of my favourite scenes from this script heavily depended on my existing emotional investment in these characters. When I shed tears, it was not because of the strength of the play’s own plot or characters, but because I am a mess when it comes to all things Harry Potter related.
I also love that this script introduces another side to the Hogwarts we know and love. Harry always thought of Hogwarts as a haven away from life with the Weasley, where he finally found home, friendship and love. However, Albus is less than enthusiastic with the school, and he offers a different insight to this iconic place. I really enjoyed seeing another layer to the magical world.
The new characters were also endearing, especially Albus and Scorpius. I don’t think it’s possible to read this book without falling in love with at least Scorpius, my Achilles’s heel has always been the golden-hearted nerd trope. I especially love the relationships between the two, it simultaneously reminded me of the bond between the original trio – yet at the same time being completely different. However, I wish we got to see more new characters developed aside from these two boys.
At the end of the day, I think there are enough emotionally weighty moments in Cursed Child for it to be worth checking out. Sure, there are plot holes abound and falters in characterisation, but it still retains a lot of what made Harry Potter worthwhile: the characters, the magic, and the resounding theme on friendship and family. If you have been wondering about where Harry and co are doing, this will give you some closure. After reading this, I will be satisfied with imagining for myself what the future holds for these beloved characters. If JKR ever dabbles with the series again, I can only pray it will be through a prequel series (Maurauder era, or Founder era, please!)
Now we have the spoiler filled section of the book, first I want to share with you the moments that worked for me during Cursed Child. These are moments that made me nostalgic for Harry Potter and urged me to go and reread the first seven books once more.
I love that Harry Potter now has a huge, happy family to call all his own. Although some found the epilogue cheesy, I was personally over the moon to see Harry finally find home and happiness.
Rose Granger-Weasley, she’s smart and she’s great at Quidditch, I also dig her last name. I wish we got to see her more in the play, though.
Fred and George ran a book betting that Ginny would be sorted into Slytherin. Girlfriend has ambitions in abundance, but I can’t see a Weasley outside of Gryffindor.
Professor McGonagall is still a Gryffindor at heart, especially when it comes to Quidditch. Bless! Her love for her House’s Quidditch team always made for some memorable moments during the main series.
“It is exceptionally lonely, being Draco Malfoy”
I enjoyed the development that Draco’s characters got in this book. I felt he had more depth to his character, especially after rereading the 6th book. I am glad to see that his characterisation did not stagnate, and that he is representation of a side of the wizarding world Harry Potter & co managed to change.
“You ask me, of all people, how to protect a boy in terrible danger?”
Dumbledore became a very contentious figure both in-canon and in real life after the conclusion of the series. Some thought he was overly manipulative and insensitive to Harry’s feelings. I am fresh from rereading The Halfblood Prince, and while I agree with the former characterisation – I am in the camp who believes that Dumbledore loved Harry. The moments between the two might have reeked of fanservice, but I lapped it up – it was one of the few times this play made me cry.
Neville Longbottom’s existence ensures the safety of the universe, he matters. I was always certain of this, but I was so happy to see it acknowledged openly in this book. Neville has always been one of my favourites in the book, and I am glad to see he got his moment in the play, even though he was not physically present.
Now, to the things I had issues with, and there were A LOT of it.
First of all, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way. Delphi’s origins – I just cannot reconcile the image of Voldemort and Bellatrix procreating. Truly, this was dragged out from the dark void of fanfiction.net
Hermione Granger would end up a bitter, malicious, Snape 2.0 if she didn’t end up marrying Ron. Just, what? She was doing fine even without him, remember Viktor Krum? Remember her being the brightest with of her age? Remember her being the reason why Harry and Ron did not die in every damn book? I find that alternate universe especially insulting.
Speaking of Hermione, why on earth would she hide a rare and dangerous relic in a bookcase, using a puzzle that her 11-year-old self could have deciphered? She’s way too smart for that! Also, that scene makes absolutely 0 sense in print, I need to see it in person.
I felt we were being queer baited with Albus and Scorpius’s beautiful relationship, just for the play to ‘reassure’ us that they’re 100% straight in the end. Why is this necessary? It’s so aggravating to see this happen time and again in popular fiction.
Cedric Diggory deserved better, the play insinuated that he would turn into a Death Eater (and murder Neville, of all people!), because he got humiliated during the Triwizard Tournament. This is a load of garbage, Hufflepuff do not churn out dark wizards. Cedric is too pure for this sort of nonsense. He has morals – remember him helping Harry in the second trial? Remember why he died? Because he wanted to share the first place prize with Harry Potter. Ugh!
I think out of everything in the play – this beautiful quote is the one that applies to Cursed Child most directly: “Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic.” In reality, to expect a perfect 8th book from the Cursed Child was a pipe dream at best. A play could never measure up to the careful plotting and characterisation of the previous seven novels. However, I do feel that it’s the perfect cure for those who are missing Harry Potter and ready to dive back into the world one more time.
Have you read the play? What were your thoughts? Please share them but also mark them as spoilers below!