*** Disclaimer: Spoilers! don’t read if you don’t want it ruined for yourself ***
Also, this is one of my longer book reviews. Sorry in advance for the length, but it’s Harry Potter so I have to.
Most people who know me know that I am a huge Harry Potter fan. I have read the books so many times that their covers are falling off, I am a volunteer for the Harry Potter Alliance, and I am just all around a huge geek for Harry Potter. Whether it makes sense to non-fans or not, Harry Potter made (and continues to make) a difference in my life, whether it just be through messages in the book or because it’s how I met new friends. So it would be expected that I was super thrilled about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Having read it, I have mixed feelings.
First of all, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is literally a script. Personally, this was a possibility I had prepared for because J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne originally wrote the script for the play that was just released in London. I kind of wanted them to take the time to translate it into a typical novel but I didn’t want to set my expectations to high. In any case, many people were not happy about the fact that the book was presented as a script. Since the format doesn’t appeal to everyone, I figured in this review I’d best just be straight about the fact that this is a thing and it is a thing I am ok with but many others are not.
I think I actually liked Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I was actually super worried because, alas, people just couldn’t keep it to themselves on social media and were like “this is awful” “don’t read” “seems like fan-fic” “it’s a a script” (ok, but didn’t they see that one coming?) and a general impression of “urgh”. So, I thought maybe I’d hate it. But, hey, I guess some of us are ok with it. And, to be honest, it does feel like a divergence from the previous books but that doesn’t mean I hate it.
Let me start with the language. I felt like a lot of the characters we’ve known for years just didn’t talk like themselves. I’m trying to justify that as “well, they’ve grown up”, but nonetheless… The thing is, even when I read the Robert Galbraith books (JK’s pseudonym), I still feel like JK Rowling wrote it, and those books are a completely different genre (adult, crime / mystery). Maybe I feel this way just because it’s a script, maybe I’d say the same about the original canon Harry Potter books if 95% of everything was stripped away to mere dialogue. Also, maybe I’d feel totally different if I saw it on stage.
Also, it did seem sort of like a fan-fiction / what if story. I thought that there was so much present day stuff for JK to work with and instead I felt like it was all “what if this happened?” “what if this happened” “and what about this?” I saw this with two examples; one was having Albus, Harry’s son, be a Slytherin (“what if Harry had been Slytherin?”) and with Albus being best friends with Scorpius Malfoy, Draco Malfoy’s son (“what if Harry and Draco Malfoy had been friends?”). To be fair, Albus and Scorpius are not the same as Harry and Draco and I imagine both things would have played out much differently had it been Harry and Draco as children but I still got that impression.
In addition, a large part of the premise was about what if they could go back and save Cedric (another massive “what if…?”; turns out, it’s not possible without fucking everything up! Don’t mess with time turners, children!). So Albus and Scorpius (stupidly) tried to accomplish this and learned the hard way why it was a terrible idea and almost allowed the villain to bring back Voldemort. Thankfully, Albus and Scorpius, with their parents, basically saved the world from Voldemort finding his way back to light.
The part with the villain was somewhat predictable. I don’t know if that’s how everyone felt about it. I’m just going to use Delphi’s name, that’ll make this a whole heck of a lot easier. For about 3 seconds, I thought Delphi was merely the sympathetic niece of Amos and that she was something like a nurse at this old folks home styled place that he was living at. But, frankly, she was way too interested in Cedric. I mean, I get it, cousins right? But she was only 20 or 21 and Cedric, who was a little older than Harry, would have been about 44 had he been alive. Well, Cedric died 20 or so years before; Delphi would have been an infant if had she already been born and probably wouldn’t have any memory of Cedric justify her desire to save him because he was just so awesome. I could totally understand her feeling really bad for Amos and wanting to bring Cedric back for his sake, but she was acting like it was for herself, which didn’t add up for me. Yes, we’re all devastated by Cedric’s death, I just didn’t understand her personal interest; it was suspicious. It was also the fact that she seemed to dense to figure out that going back and saving Cedric would change other things (possibly the entire outcome of defeating Voldemort), yet she seemed smart enough to plan how to make this happen and was able to manipulate two boys into playing along. The one thing I didn’t anticipate was her being the child of Voldemort right up until the point where she came out as evil. The clue was there, I just didn’t expect it. Note: this isn’t a criticism, just an observation that I wanted to put out there.
With all that said, and probably 500 more things I’ll regret not including later, I still enjoyed the book, flaws and all. The major thing was that I just wish we’d gotten more of what things were like for present day Harry instead of having such a hard revisiting of the past, but that’s ok. I’m actually looking forward to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (à la play) coming to North America; maybe I’ll even go see it in New York City or something.
Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Authors / Playwrights: J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
Genre: Fantasy, Theatre, Young Adult
Release: July 31, 2016
Page Count: ???