I wasn’t excited for this story when it was announced, but, out of curiosity, I bought a copy of the special rehearsal edition when it was published. I delayed in doing so because I wasn’t sure if I wanted a Harry Potter story that to me was not part of the “canon.” But because of the negative reviews it has received, I decided to give it a try.
I unintentionally waited a year before reading it and am glad I did. By then, I was desensitized from the mixture of reviews it had received as well as the hype. And because of that, I liked the story and appreciated what it sought to accomplish.
The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.
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. (Goodreads)
I tried my best to avoid spoilery reviews of this book or ones with strong negative emotions toward it because I didn’t want them to affect how I would react to the story. I’m glad I did because after reading it, I realized that I could have been easily swayed to dislike it. The story isn’t what I expected, or wanted, in the extra Harry Potter story I’ve craved for since completing the series on my first read. However, it contained certain things that I now would have liked to see in the series, or another story, and others that did not make sense when the previous stories are considered.
Seeing the adult versions of the original characters
The ending of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was cheesy, but I liked that we glimpsed the characters as adults with their children. Cursed Child picks up there and expands a bit on this, which I appreciated. I liked that we get to see how the characters are as parents, what their kids are like, and how their legacy at Hogwarts affect their children. Though Albus becomes an unlikeable character because of the huge chip on his shoulder, I do like that at least one of Harry’s kids isn’t dazzled by their father’s fame.
I also like seeing how their time at Hogwarts and after affected the characters later in their lives. We see that Ron now runs his brothers’ joke shop, which I’m okay with, but for most of the story I disliked Ron’s character despite how genial he is. He seems too playful and that didn’t match up with how I remember him from the series. I guess he’d changed much over the years.
Same with Hermione, who was difficult to take seriously in this story. Her personality here just didn’t match well with what I remembered of her character and didn’t make sense that that’s how she would develop. The part where Albus blocks her from entering her office by kissing her also didn’t make sense and made me uncomfortable because Albus, who’d drank Polyjuice Potion and became Ron, was basically kissing his aunt. At times like those, I’d wish I was actually reading a novel and was privy to the character’s thoughts because I wanted to know why he’d do that and how he felt about it.
Harry’s character more or less made sense to me because the more I reread the series, the more I believe he’s an ass. Though Albus sometimes resents his father, he’s the most like young Harry than any of Harry’s other kids. It’s partly why they often clash. The part where Harry tells Albus, “Well, there are times I wish you weren’t my son,” also made me wonder if they often disagree because Harry sees in Albus a part of himself that he dislikes and in saying so to his son, he’s also saying to himself, “I wish this wasn’t me.” That moment was tense and jarring and totally fit the douchebag image I’d since developed of Harry.
However, this doesn’t mean that I no longer sympathize with young Harry or the older one. In Cursed Child, I got a teensy bit emotional when we see that Harry suffers from nightmares of his adventures as a kid. When Ginny asks if he wants a Sleeping Draught, it made me wonder if Harry sometimes suffers from insomnia. He’s obviously guilt-ridden and stressed by the past, so it is possible that it affects his sleep. I just feel sorry for the dude.
Draco was a pleasant surprise. I was so used to him sneering in the background, I didn’t expect to see him take on a positive role in this story. I quite liked the adult he became, though he’s not entirely good, and I love that we get a bit of his perspective on their Hogwarts days. That was my favorite part of the story. It brought to light how lonely Draco was at Hogwarts. It made me sorry for him too.
I don’t have much to say about Ginny except that I wish she had a great role or was more substantial in the story.
…didn’t make sense to me. I don’t believe Lord Voldemort had a kid. It’s hard for me to view Voldemort getting close to someone to copulate with them because I’m so used to seeing his character from Harry’s perspective. (Thanks to the Witch, Please podcast, I now realize that the we are often limited to Harry’s perspective when reading about the wizarding world and its people. I was aware of it, but didn’t acknowledge it until I started listening to the podcast.) However, it is possible that he has sexual desires that just weren’t mentioned in the series. Voldemort craves power and loves to dominate others, which can be done sexually so…totally possible that he hooked up with Bellatrix Lestrange and had a kid he didn’t know about. (A dark retelling of the series could include such a thing.)
But despite all that, I still don’t buy Delphi’s backstory.
I’m upset that we don’t get to see much of Harry’s other kids or hear much about them to get a better idea of how and who they are. The bits we are provided of them make them seem very shallow and lacking personality. It’s the same with Ron and Hermione’s kid. (I forgot all their names.) Albus is an ass and reminded me of his father at that age – willful and stubborn. And Scorpius is a sweety. I really liked him and loved how much he cares about his friend Albus. I like that through Scorpius, we get a different perspective on Slytherins.
The time travel
I hated it. I do not like time travel in stories and I didn’t like it in Prisoner of Azkaban either. Whenever I try to make sense of it in regards to how it affects the present, I get confused. I hate it, hate it, hate it!
The only part of the time travel I liked is when Snape is told what became of him in the original narrative:
SNAPE: I’m dead, presumably.
He looks at SCORPIUS, whose face drops. SNAPE smiles thinly.
You were a little too surprised to see me. How?
SNAPE: How very irritating.
There’s a silence as SNAPE digests.
Still, there’s glory in being taken down by the Dark Lord himself, I suppose.
It’s my second favorite part of the story, these parts with Snape. I also liked that he sacrificed himself for a better world, which makes clear that that’s what he does in the series. It redeemed his character a little for me, but I still don’t think he had to be so horrible to the children he taught in the series.
I also didn’t like bitter time-travel-Hermione. It was unoriginal, because it calls to how Snape is in the series, and unneeded. Time-travel-Ron, however, felt more like the Ron I remembered from the series.
Umm…didn’t like the whole escape the Hogwarts Express part because that didn’t make sense to me, though it made me wonder why I never thought about what else the Trolley Lady does after her trolley services.
And also, though this is a play and I don’t like to read plays because of the intrusive stage directions, Cursed Child was easy to read because it read like a novel in some parts. As I went along, I eventually forgot that I was reading a play and got caught up in the story itself.
Overall: ★★★☆☆ 1/2
I liked it and actually read it all in one sitting. I read it because I was craving a reread of the series but wanted a different story. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child satisfied that. I’d love to see the play. If you decide to read the script, I advise reading it without high expectations and accept it as its own story. The description calls it the “eighth Harry Potter story,” but I only accept parts of it as in tune with the Harry Potter cannon.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
Yes. Buy! If you are a Harry Potter fan, I recommend it to you for the different perspective it provides on some characters.
I’ll probably end up rereading it next year.