Book Club: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

It's happened! It's happened! They told us it would never happen, and then it diiiid! Another Harry Potter book! Sadly, I couldn't just sit down and read it all in one go because apparently when your boyfriend is moving in with you and you said you'd help him pack all weekend, then he expects you to help all weekend - including the day the new Harry Potter book comes out! Bah! Anyways, it's done now and I want to talk about it! SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS! Spoilers to come!



The Story: 

The main story revolves around Harry Potter's son, Albus Severus, he of the most unfortunate name. Albus feels like he's not really a proper Potter: he gets sorted into Slytherin, he can't even get his broom to jump into his hand, and generally has a rough go of all the things that Harry was good at. He also becomes best friends with Scorpius, Draco's strangely intelligent and kind son. Scorpius is basically the new Hermione.

The two boys are struggling under the weight of their parents' reputations, and so they strike out to try to do something heroic of their own and make a name for themselves. See, Amos Diggory, father to Cedric (murdered by Voldemort at the Triwizard Tournament), is petitioning Harry to use a time turner to go back and save Cedric. His death was, of course, unnecessary. Harry is smart, though, and knows you can't mess with time. Unfortunately, Albus and Scorpius don't quite understand this.

I could sit here and recap the rest of the story, but suffice it to say that hijinx ensue, including time travel, secretly evil friends, and multiple universes (one where Voldemort won and Delores Umbridge is the Headmaster of Hogwarts - oh my!) Finally, Albus and Scorpius exercise some great ingenuity, everyone bands together, and the day is saved.

Observations:

Overall, of course, I loved reading it! It was so fun to be back in the world of these characters again - they're like old friends, and, I'm not going to lie, I've missed them.

The story itself was, I thought, a true Harry Potter-style yarn. Bravery gone awry, terrible consequences, and children left alone to deal with great evil: par for the course in the Potterverse.

There was some seriously shoe-horned nostalgia. In the end, they go to Goodric's Hollow and Harry is forced to watch his parents get murdered, unable to intervene lest history get ruined. Then we watch Hagrid come in, mourn their deaths, and rescue little Harry with a twee speech about how he'll always be there for the little guy. I mean, I obviously cried, but also I was a bit annoyed because they were clearly trying to make me cry.

I LOVE that this is a play, because now people are lining up around blocks and waiting in line at midnight to buy a copy of a play. A PLAY! That never happens!

Sadly, as a play, I don't think this is very good. Like I said, a lot of heavy-handed feelings-inducing stuff has been shoved in there. It's one thing to read a saccharine speech about the power of love on the page (heck, we read one from Dumbledore in every book), but it's another to know an actor has to deliver that without making the audience puke a bit.

They did throw in a lot of magic for the stage: pews flying about, spells exploding. I'm sure it's quite the spectacle.

Harry has always been frustratingly dense at times (his ongoing insistence that Snape is evil, his inability to ever ask for help, and book five when he forces everyone to go to the Ministry of Magic), and here it happens again. Bane tells him there's a dark cloud around his son, and Harry just assumes it's Scorpius instead of, oh I don't know, the terrible sadness and anger that Albus feels because he thinks his father doesn't love him?

Speaking of Bane - they also fit in cameos from about as many side characters as you can imagine. The best one, however, was the Trolley Witch. You know, the one who goes around selling pumpkin pasties to the kids on the train? She has got some TEETH, let me tell you!

I was genuinely, satisfyingly surprised by Delphi's dark side revelation. I thoroughly believed her role as Cedric's cousin until she asks to hold the time turner right near the end. Oh man, that was a good twist! A good, Harry Potter-style, twist!

It is unfortunately fitting that a story about a son who can't live up to his father's reputation can't quite live up to the reputation of the story that preceded it... Alas!

Overall, despite it looking like a bit of a flop as a play, I am glad that J.K. Rowling teamed up with Jack Thorne and John Tiffany to write this story, giving us another chance to hang out with our good friends from Hogwarts, once again.

EDITS:

After writing this I read some reviews of the play in London - sounds like it's getting an excellent reception. I am so happy if I am wrong and the play works.

I also somehow forgot to be a feminist killjoy on this one! As usual, this story could have had many more female characters than it did. Really the only one who wasn't in the decorate/support role and had an actual story arch was Delphi, the villain. Even Hermione as Minister of Magic mainly existed to prod the male characters on. SIGH.


The Receptionist Delivers! Sign up for my email newsletter for a weekly digest and BONUS CONTENT!

Comments