Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Parts One and Two)
Authors: J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Summary (from inside flap): 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 a 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. Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a new play by Jack Thorne. It is the eighth Harry Potter story and the first to be officially presented on stage. This special rehearsal edition of the script brings the continued journey of Harry Potter and his friends and family to readers everywhere immediately following the play’s world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.
“Those that we love never truly leave us, Harry. There are things that death cannot touch. Paint…and memory…and love.”
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which was released at the end of July, was quite possibly the most anticipated book in all of 2016. People were thrilled that we were finally getting another installment in the lives of everyone’s favorite witches and wizards, yet their excitement was tinged with disappointment as they learned that a) it would be a play, not a novel, and that b) it wasn’t actually written by J.K. Rowling.
Despite all this, however, Potterheads across the world pulled out their robes and wands once more and lined up all night at midnight release parties. A whopping four million copies were sold the first week alone in the US, UK, and Canada. Hopes were high, and, unfortunately, many people were left disappointed. I, however, was not one of those people, and I thought Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was completely and utterly brilliant.
A Quick Note
Before I even get into a summary of this book and my thoughts, I want to get one thing out of the way with: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play. I repeat, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play. It is not a novel, it is the script of a play, so if you go in expecting it to be a novel, you will be sorely disappointed. Another thing: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not written by J.K. Rowling, so if you read a review and the major complaint of this book is that it doesn’t feel like the other seven books in the series, that’s because it isn’t. J.K. Rowling played a part in coming up with the story line of The Cursed Child, but the actual written words of this script were penned by a man named Jack Thorne, who, shockingly enough, is not J.K. Rowling. Therefore, believe it or not, his writing will not sound like J.K. Rowling’s original novels.
All right, sarcastic rant over, but I wanted to get these two points out of the way with before I begin my review because they are two of the largest criticisms I see of The Cursed Child.
The Basic Plot
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child picks up right where Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows left off: nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts, on Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, where the grown up versions of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Malfoy are sending their own children off to Hogwarts. Harry and Ginny have three children, James, Albus Severus, and Lily; Hermione and Ron have a daughter, Rose; and Malfoy has just one son, Scorpius. Albus and Scorpius, who meet for the first time on the Hogwarts Express, both get sorted into Slytherin and quickly become close friends.
Meanwhile, outside of Hogwarts, Harry and Hermione both work at the Ministry of Magic – Hermione as Minister and Harry as Head of Magical Law Enforcement. In this post-Battle of Hogwarts world, Time-Turners have been outlawed, and as the play starts Harry has just returned from a mission where he seized an illegal Time-Turner from a man named Theordore Nott. Everything seems normal until Amos Diggory, father of Cedric Diggory, comes into the story accompanied by his niece, Delphi.
Fans of the series will remember that Cedric was a Hufflepuff who was killed during the Triwizard Tournament during Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. His father, Amos Diggory, goes to see Harry because he has heard that he seized a Time-Turner and wants him to go back in time and save his son’s life:
Amos: Voldemort wanted you! Not my son! You told me yourself, the words he said were, “Kill the spare.” The spare. My son, my beautiful son, was a spare.
Harry: Mr. Diggory, as you know, I sympathize with your efforts to memorialize Cedric, but –
Amos: A memorial? I am not interested in a memorial – not anymore. I am an old man – and old dying man – and I am here to ask you – beg you – to help me get him back.
Harry refuses to help Amos, saying that the Theodore Nott story is a lie and all the Time-Turners have been destroyed. Albus, who is home on break from Hogwarts, overhears the entire conversation and, as he’s already angry with his dad (for reasons that will you find out if you read the play), he decides that he and Scorpius, with help from Delphi, will break into the Ministry of Magic, find the Time-Turner, and travel back in time to the Triwizard Tournament to save Cedric’s life. Although he has the best of intentions, things start to take a turn for the worst as Albus quickly realizes that altering the past has greater repercussions than he ever imagined.
Now, I know that The Cursed Child has received very mixed reviews, but I personally really loved it. Returning to the Wizarding World after all this time and being back with the characters I grew up loving in a new story was completely wonderful and, despite the criticism, I really enjoyed the story line. I thought the way this novel approached time travel was fascinating, and gave readers the opportunity to return to some old favorite characters from the original series (*cough cough Dumbledore cough cough Snape cough*).
I didn’t have any issues with the format, as I really enjoy fast-paced dialogue and there’s so much of that in plays. Also, while you could definitely tell that The Cursed Child wasn’t written by J.K. Rowling herself, I still thought the writing was really well-done and there were some incredibly beautiful passages.
“There is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.”
Overall, if you’re debating whether or not you want to give The Cursed Child a try, I would say give it a go. No, it’s not exactly like the other seven books in the series, but then it doesn’t claim to be. If you go in with an open mind, accepting the fact that a) it’s a script, not a novel, and b) it’s not written by J.K. Rowling, you might end up, like I did, really enjoying the chance to return to the Wizarding World we all know and love.
Have you read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? Did you like it, or were you not a fan? Let me know down in the comments! In the meantime, I’ll be rereading the entire Harry Potter series because I forgot how completely wonderful these books are. 🙂