Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling (kind of)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

*Note: I rarely crucify prequels, sequels, adaptations, spin-offs, etc. Especially when produced by the original creator, or with their approval and input. If you are interested in a Cursed Child bashing, the Internet shall provide*

Try as I might, I couldn’t get a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child from my local bookstore. I definitely couldn’t get it from my local public library – the waiting list was longer than Snape’s nose. Besides, any Potterhead worth their salt will scrape and fight to own all the HP books in all the lands. So, I Amazon’d Cursed Child to my front door and promptly read the entire script in one sitting on a beautiful summer day.

I read quickly, so sometimes I miss structure and detail. After reading the first few pages of the two-part script, I immediately started over again. Like many, I’m sure, I dove in reading as if Cursed Child is a novel. It’s not. It is the published script of a two-part play (still) running on London’s West End. Once I slowed down, I started catching more of the beats and nuance between old familiars and the new cast of characters. Whenever a play direction didn’t make a ton of sense, I did my best to visualize the production in action, and moved on. Since my reading of Cursed Child, more photos of the production have been released. Many are citing the set designs and special effects as hugely impactful on the story of Albus Severus Potter and his dad, Harry.

Let’s be clear about the question mark in this blog post’s title. Cursed Child was written by playwright Jack Thorne, based on a story created by directory John Tiffany, Thorne, and Rowling. This is causing controversy among Potterheads and critics alike. Some say this is the worst kind of Rowling-approved fan fiction.  I think the purists need a bit more muggle blood in their lives. Without spoiling too much, the play picks up right where the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows epilogue leaves off. When we read the scene as it was originally published and intended, it reads as an (overly) sentimental close to the Harry Potter story. Harry is happy and safe. Ron is happy and safe. Hermoine is happy and safe (and probably taking over the world in a good way). Fast-forward to Cursed Child, and we now hear Harry Potter’s heartfelt, well-intentioned speech as it is received by his prepubescent son, Albus.

Ho boy that is a lot of pressure for an eleven-year-old kid. Not only is his dad the single greatest bad a** in wizarding history, Albus is also named after two of the other greatest bad a**** in wizarding history. And to top it off, Albus’ older brother James is seemingly perfect at everything. Good luck, kid. Hope Hopkins/Hogwarts is fun!

Is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child perfect. Nope. But, Cursed Child gave me an excuse to re-enter my absolutely favorite fictional world. I fell right back into the magic without a hitch. I had fewer complaints than the average critic regarding character development for Harry, Ron, and Hermoine. Harry never had a consistent father figure, so he struggles with fatherhood. Hermoine was a boss, and now she’s the boss. Ron was Ron, and now he’s Ron. As for the new cast, I think Scorpius Malfoy is the best addition to the HP universe since Luna Lovegood. Albus’ emo, adolescent characterization can be exhausting, but so was 15-year-old Harry in Order of the Phoenix. In fact, I would argue this as the most significant marker of excellent continuity.

Finally, the plot. Actually, nevermind. I don’t want to give anything away. Ok, one thing. THANK YOU for revisiting one of the magical elements/artifacts/accessories I had the most questions about when I finished the original seven book series.

Maybe I’m not one to complain about the particulars, and maybe I’m a sentimental sap, but I was thankful to have a few more hours in the magical world of Harry Potter.

Read if you like: Harry Potter the books, Harry Potter the movies, Harry Potter everything

Avoid if you don’t like: Harry Potter

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