Rating: 3 out of 5
Synopsis: Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
Review: Like the rest of Australia, and the world, I rushed out to get Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on release day. I was more excited than an eleven year old boarding Hogwarts Express for the first time – I just could not wait to get my greedy little hands on the next piece of the magical world created by J.K. Rowling – to get another sliver of magic, to cling on to another piece of this wizarding puzzle, to have another moment of wonder in this phenomenal world that will always hold a place in my heart.
So with the spell cast, I got my copy and I read eagerly wanting to get every bit of Harry Potter that I could – and the result was similar to the Hermiones first attempt at polyjuice potion: both fantastic and down-right ugly.
My thoughts on this book is mixed, and there is a spoiler section further down to elaborate on some of these feelings, so if you haven’t read the book, do not proceed past the spoiler warning as there are major spoilers in there!
There are a few things you need to understand going into this book. First, this is not about Harry. Yes, he is in it, but this is not his story. I know the book is being marketed by some as the “eight book” – but do not go into this thinking that it is. This is something else entirely. And secondly, this is not a novel! This is a script, and if you want the wonderful world-building and major story arc that you enjoyed in the books, you are not going to get it.
This book is a script from the play of the same name. I think they did a wonderful job putting it in print form as it does provoke some imagery, but it is nothing like the awe of reading the description of Hogwarts for the first time. I would love to see this on stage, as I can tell that it would be a fantastic production and much better to visually see it, although when reading the book I imagined the “older” characters as those who portrayed them in the movie, so that might throw me off seeing the stage production a little. However, we are talking about the book…
As I said, this is not Harry’s story. This story is set well after the end of the Harry Potter series, and while we do once again see many of the characters we love, this is not their story. This is a story of the younger generation, primarily Harry’s son, Albus. So let’s talk about the characters (both new and old) in this story:
Albus: What a whiney little bitch! He has taken middle-child syndrome to a whole new level! Albus annoyed me to no end – he is always whinging, complaining: poor little Harry Potter’s son, always being compared to famous father, always being overlooked, never good enough..blah blah blah. His stupidity outweighed his father’s (Harry was pretty stupid) but he took his stupidity and finished it off with a massive amount of arrogance. Basically, I really disliked him.
Scorpius: Now this is the true hero of the story!! Scorpius is intelligent, kind, and although he suffers from far more prejudice than Albus could ever imagine, he takes it all in his stride. I adored this kid, and I really felt for him, and the fact that he didn’t ever play the victim made me love him even more. He is courageous, bright and he made this story! Much like Hermione in the Harry Potter series, this story would have gone nowhere without him, and he was a much better character in general. Forget Albus, Scorpius is the hero of this story, and probably of this generation of wizards – this book should have been called Harry Potter and the Frenemy’s Child.
Harry: Wow, I know Harry has always been a little arrogant, but this takes the cake! Harry has his moments of being a true prick in this story! Sure, he has moments when he returns to the true Harry, but to be honest, after seeing/hearing this side of him, I am not sure that I like who Harry grew up to be (more on him in the spoilers).
Draco: There just should have been more Draco. In general, he is such a good character… and we all know that he must have suffered so much between the Battle of Hogwarts and now. I just wanted to see more of this misunderstood boy/man.
Now to the story. Overall it was a pretty good storyline. Albus gets pulled into some things from his father’s past (well jumps into them actually), and although I would have liked to have seen him have his own story, I can understand why they went this way (and the benefits of it – more in spoilers). If Albus had his own story, outside of the existing Harry Potter storyline, it would be far more complex, far more indepth, and that would have meant a novel or series, and this is not meant to be that. And while I would have loved a new Harry Potter world based novel, this is not on the cards (and I don’t know if I could handle anymore of Albus’ whiney way of being). So, considering the fact we are not going to get another novel, I think this was a clever way of bringing more of the Harry Potter story into the world, while introducing us to new characters and returning old ones. It was a good meshing of old and new, and for that I am grateful. But there was a major aspect to the storyline that did not sit well with me (more below in the spoiler section), and if it wasn’t for that, I probably would have enjoyed this story more – and although I can see how it tied the stories together, it is just something that doesn’t sit well with me, and therefore ruined the experience of this new instalment in the Harry Potter world.
All in all, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was a nice little edition to the Harry Potter world, but in all honesty, I could have lived without it. But as all Harry Potter fans know, nothing is ever too much for this magical world, and we will eat up any breadcrumb that J.K. Rowling offers to us. But go into this story understanding it is an “extra” – without a lot of the things you have come to know and love.
Now, onto spoilers. SPOILER ALERT. There are massive spoilers below, so if you have not read the book, do not go any further.
MASSIVE SPOILERS BELOW!!!!! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED – DON’T PROCEED IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK OR DON’T WANT TO SEE SPOILERS. FINAL WARNING…. MASSIVE SPOILERS BELOW!
Okay, so here are my spoilery thoughts.
I LOVED seeing some of the old characters come back – especially Dumbledore and Snape. Although these were only glimpses, and sometimes they were only in an alternate reality, I really loved them.
And although I enjoyed the alternate realities, I am kind of torn on the thought that there should have been one where Harry and Hermione were a couple. On one hand, I think that would have been nice for the fans who always wanted that to get a little bit of what that may have looked like, but on the other hand, I respect J.K. Rowling sticking to her word and not pandering to the masses – it’s a tough call, but I think if they had of wanted to include it, they could have made that work in the world where Albus did not exist.
And now onto the “hero” of this world, Harry Potter. OMG, when did Harry become such a prick??? In general I though adult Harry was a bit of an ass, but when it comes to his child maybe I could understand. But the things he said to Dumbledore in particular? I just can’t. I have always said that Harry wasn’t a true hero, that he couldn’t have survived with Hermione and Ron (Hermione in particular, he would have been dead so long ago if it wasn’t for her), and it was nice of him to acknowledge that in this story, but he was just such a jack-ass in this story. It kind of ruined his character for me.
Now the villan of the story, well actually the previous story, and where this story went all downhill for me. Voldemort. More specifically, Voldemort having a child. Okay, I will grant you that I can see how it ties the stories together, as Voldemort himself could not come back (unless there was another book series involved), but WTF??!!!! Voldemort having a child? No. Just no. I don’t buy it – at all. Besides the fact that in my mind when Voldemort was resurrected his peen was much like his nose (it didn’t return with him), he would not have had a child! Some people may think that he did so that his legacy lived on etc etc, but I don’t buy that either. He didn’t want his legacy to live on, he wanted to live on. He wanted to be the Dark Lord, not because he wanted darkness to rule, but because he wanted to rule. Voldemort was fundamentally all about himself, and I cannot see him procreating for any reason.
End of rant.