Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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4-star

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

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Book Depository // Amazon // Dymocks // Booktopia


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.

HPCursedChild

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!)

Cursed Child SpoilersNow 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.

Cursed Child Likes

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.Cursed Child DisLike

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!

Cursed Child Conclusion

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!

36 thoughts on “Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

  1. Okay so literally all your problems were the same problems I had 😂 First off, Scorpius and Albus would have been adorable together and if that was never going to happen, WHY DID THE ALLUDE TO IT SO MUCH? Also there is no way in hell Hermione would turn into Umbridge 2.0 without Ron? She is a fabulous character in her own right and shouldn’t have to rely on her husband to define her characterisation *sigh* The more I think about this the book, the more problems that pop up 🙃 (but also lol at Voldie and Bellatrix procreating)

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    • Yup initially I was just happy we were back in Hogwarts and I was uncritical of everything. But the more I reread, especially the latter half, the more I am TOTALLY CONFUSED. It’s ok we have 7 flawless books to fall back on. Though I will forever be salty about what could have been with Albus and Scorpius, if only because Harry and Draco’s reactions would have been golden.

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  2. I’m glad you enjoyed reading this despite what didn’t work so much. Often hear that everyone seems to love scorpius though! I feel hesitant to read this because of the pretty mixed reviews and feel as though the story had already ended on book 7. I’ve caught snippets of the spoilery bits, which sort of made my decision to not read it because it just sounds like fanfiction :O Anyway great review as always! Love the calligraphy fonts you used 🙂

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  3. I’ve been going back and forth about reading this. On the one hand, I wouldn’t mind reading someone else’s view of what happened after Book 7, but the truth of the matter is that it is someone else’s view, and not truly a sequel. I think things would have been better left alone, with us free to imagine things as each of us would, but oh well. Thank you for outlining exactly what bothered you and what didn’t — I’ve read too many reviews that really just harp on the fact that it isn’t Rowling’s book, and I know that, but why does that make it bad? I’m glad you gave specifics — great review! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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    • Glad the review helps you!! I think you can enjoy this book as long as you moderate expectations. It does not hold a candle to the original 7, though. But what can? 😂

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  4. *sigh*
    I’ve heard pretty much the same thing about this one from others too. I don’t know if I was interested in it, but it was nice seeing everyone so excited over it. I can understand how the book made you nostalgic and that’s probably one reason I would read this one despite all the outlandish plot holes and such. I’m still debating whether I should spend $20+ to buy it or wait 5000 years at the library to read a copy.
    I’m glad it wasn’t ALL bad for you though, Aentee! Wonderful review! 🙂

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  5. I agree with your “things that didn’t work” and am also surprised it got approved to be billed as the “8th HP.” I enjoyed it simply because it was HP, but oh my gosh there were some things in it that drove me crazy. I’m posting about it later this week, but just to name a few here: 1) Absolutely agree with Delphi origins. WTF? That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. 2) Harry was way to self centered and a-hole-ish towards Albus (and even Dumbledore in the one scene where he argues with his portrait). It didn’t seem like his real character at all to me.

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    • Yesss after this gets billed as the 8th book, I’m going to have to approach Fantastic Beasts with trepidation now. Please be good! I didn’t enjoy Harry’s characterisation in this play either, it’s like he reverted to his 15 year old self without good reason. At least in OOTP his source of angst was understandable!

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  6. I haven’t read this yet, but I’ve definitely been warned that this is NOT an 8th book. I think it’s nice that we get to go back into the HP world, but like you said, this isn’t written by JK Rowling. So I don’t even know what to think!

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    • I treated it as officially approved fanfiction ahahaha. It changes nothing for the original 7 books, because some of the events in it are too crazy for me to believe.

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  7. I agree with you wholeheartedly on Draco, McGonagall and Neville making an appearance, and most importantly, Cedric. I also said the same thing about it being an impossibility to turn him dark. It was quite upsetting to read that’s he became a Death Eater.

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    • Yesss this play totally did Cedric’s memory dirty. I still can’t believe the playwright could think Cedric would get to a point where he would kill freaking Neville?!

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      • I know! Especially since the Prophecy included Neville in it too! Cedric didn’t make sense at all. It’s so… Un-JK Rowling-like. If that makes sense, haha! I think out of every flaw that the Cursed Child had, Cedric had to be the most disappointing one for me.

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  8. I can’t quite bring myself to read The Cursed Child yet… Harry Potter resides in a very special part of my heart because it was the book that got me into reading (which is a story told ad nauseam but!)

    And after hearing all the mixed reviews for this, it’s like UGH I don’t know if I want to ruin the magic of the series. (I watched some ‘canon’ stuff about a game I really loved and it just ruined everything, lmao, I don’t want to go through that again. XD) I didn’t read anything past the spoilery part (thank you for separating the two!), but I will return to it when I read it.

    And I think I’ll read this book eventually though – maybe when the hype for it has died down (more). We’ll see!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for your in depth review! I only read the first half because I have not read the script yet… but I will be coming back after I read it… hopefully soon! I think you made great points about the experience -> it’s not JKR, it’s meant to be seen in the theatre, and most of us will never experience it fully. I will keep that in mind as I start reading. 🙂

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  10. Though I agree that Scorpius and Albus would’ve been a cute couple, I think the friendship speaks volumes about male camaraderie. When we see men/boys bond in a similar fashion to women’s relationships we want to deem the relationship, “homosexual.” It’s a great example of how young men/boys can be emotionally and platonically close.

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    • I agree with you that it’s nice to see male friendship without the subtext – but I personally think that in this case, the subtext was there and it was not the case of readers or audience projecting it onto this relationship. The play literally says that Scorpius can’t live in a world without Albus, and they shared many moments of intimacy that even Harry and Ron in their 7 books long friendship. Coupled with JKR’s insistence that her universe is inclusive, yet her refusal to portray minority in any central way in her works, I guess it just left me frustrated? I felt that Albus and Scorpius’s relationship, like much of this play, was written to cater to everyone (in this case, both het and slash shippers) but ultimately it approved the het narrative? That scene with Rose at the end just felt really tacked on and jarring in tone, given the rest of what the two have been through. Sorry for rambling, I don’t mean this as an attack on you, just wanted to make my point clear as I didn’t explain it too well in the post.

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  11. I totally agree with a lot of your positive and negative feelings about the play. I was really disappointed with Thorne’s forced heterosexual ending. From the moment Al and Scorpius met, they seemed too close to be just friends and I thought he might actually take their relationship that last step, but alas, he shoved Rose/Scorpius down our throats and I knew it was too good to be true. I guess it would’ve made the story seem even more like a poorly written fanfiction than it already was. The whole reading experience, while nostalgic, was also really trippy lol

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    • Yesss I would have been ok without the scene with Rose at the end. It just seemed so forced and farcical? I agree that it was a trippy read. I yelled wtf so many times!

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  12. I’ve heard some mixed reviews about it, and I just can’t, in the name of everything, imagine bellatrix and voldemort doing THAT. WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT. it definitely ruins the scary-ness of both characters to me. But I want to know more about Scorpius, Draco, Neville and Dumbledore in this book! And also can we talk about the trolley witch?? She’s so creepy omg!

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  13. I really loved this book, but in all honesty that’s probably only because I’m a huge Potterhead. I found that I disliked pretty much that same things you did, and Voldemort’s daughter and Hermoine’s bookshelf in particular seemed too far-fetched. I seriously doubt the brightest student Hogwarts has ever seen would 1) hide a Time Turner in her office where everyone and anyone who enters can potentially access it, and 2) protect it with a simple riddle two children could easily solve. I also didn’t like how they portrayed Cedric, because in the series he was portrayed as a kind-hearted, courageous young man. I just really couldn’t see him turning into a Death Eater either. I really did like how The Cursed Child really showed us some of Dumbledore’s and Draco’s most personal thoughts, and how Snape is completely selfless and brave even in an alternate universe. Very insightful review! xx

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  14. Spoiler:
    I am a school librarian and I love Harry Potter, but normally, I don’t indulge in any of the blogs.. I was happy to receive a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and I read it all in one reading. This was “the special rehearsal edition script” and it is the only version I have seen.

    I am mixed about the story in several ways. Firstly, we need to “learn” how to read a script while taking in/on the new characters, mixed with the old ones – all grown up. I found this to be hard at first, especially when we interject polyjuice potion and now we have double characters speaking.
    Act One, Scene Eighteen: This whole scene is just sloppy, in my mind. Albus as Ron, trying to stop the real Hermione from going in her office…what was that? Have a baby or take a holiday? This was contrived and was supposed to reflect the perspective of a kid, but really? As an adult reading this, we know they have kids together, but it made me pause – do we really need to think about Ron and Hermione having sex? Could there not have been other choices for proposed distractions? Buy that expensive sofa, and redo the living room or take the suggested holiday perhaps?

    Next, I found some discrepancies that annoyed me. Regarding messing with time travel: If Albus and Scorpius had stopped Cedric from winning the first event of the tournament, Cedric would have not had the information on hand, to share with Harry, about opening the egg under water, as Cedric would not have won his egg. In turn, Harry would likely not have placed at all, in the second event. Also, if Cedric was not able to continue, with the second event, he would not have rescued Cho Chang, We do not know the impact of Cedric not rescuing Cho – events might have changed had she drowned that day. Cho fought in the Battle of Hogwarts, and so her presence was likely of some importance, down the road. Conversely, had she lived but Cedric was humiliated, Cedric would likely not be her date at the ball, Instead Harry had a wild crush on her and had wanted her for his partner. This could have had the result, that Harry might have ended up with Cho and not with Ginny.

    Specifically, Part 2, Act 4, Scene 10: Albus suggests using polyjuice potion to disguise Harry – juice to be made using ingredients to be found at Bagshot’s house. The problem is Polyjuice potion takes weeks to make and you need something from Voldemort to make the juice “person” specific.
    Another issue I had, and already recorded, is the wand battling in the church with Delphi. Albus was disarmed and could not have thrown bolts. I missed my favorite characters, but it is going to take some getting used to them as grown ups. Just please take care of glaring issues before publication. At least the Act one scenes at the train station, “fixed” the movie version view of this happening, in the closing of the last movie. The family actually “felt” like caring and interacting family, with warm greetings instead of the coolness displayed on screen between the adults.

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