Goodreads: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Series: Harry Potter #8
Published: July 2016
Now working for the Ministry of Magic, Harry Potter has a lot on his plate. Voldemort’s old allies are moving. His scar is starting to burn. And, worst of all, he’s finding it difficult to connect with his son Albus.
Spoilers about the plot are marked below, but if you do not want to know anything about the play, including which characters return, where the scene is set, etc., read no further!
In many ways, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child seems designed to appeal to as many fans as possible. Harry and his friends are married with jobs now, and thus relatable to readers who grew up with them. However, the story also features his fourteen-year-old son Albus, a character who will be more relatable to younger fans of the series, but who can also provide a nostalgia factor to the older fans as he allows the story to return not only to the Wizarding World but also to Hogwarts. Joining Harry and Albus are a large cast of old favorites from Professor McGonagall to Draco Malfoy, again making the play seem both new and familiar.
The story, being a script, of course presents less of the magical world than readers are accustomed to (though you can use your imagination very well with the stage directions provided). This means that the characters have to carry the story in a way they did not in the original seven books. In this respect, having so many of the old favorites return works very well. It is fun to see what the trio and Ginny are doing with their careers, satisfying to see McGonagall in charge of Hogwarts, touching to see Harry try to reach out to Dumbledore’s portrait. Life has gone on for the characters, but sometimes it is comforting to know that some things stay the same. And the setting aids the story as it means seeing so many old characters does not seem forced; they would naturally be at Hogwarts and do not seem inserted merely to please fans.
The old characters act very much as I would expect them to. Ron is still goofy, loving, and loyal. Hermione is organized, in charge, and incredibly sharp. (So is her daughter.) Harry is, well, Harry. He likes to be in on the action and still dislikes paperwork. And though he loves his son, he has trouble expressing emotion. Who could blame him in light of his past?
And the new characters? I loved them. Strangely, Albus left little impression on me just as his father did in the first seven books. But Scorpius Malfory is a delight and he makes Albus shine when they are together. He’s funny and smart and caring–and just the type of character you would like to have as a protagonist. And then, of course, there is Rose, almost a little Hermione. Determined to excel at everything and just a little awkward when figuring out how to make friends.
Watching them all was delightful and at times more interesting than the plot, which was not particularly surprising, sadly to say, even if it was pretty fun. [Spoilers ahead!] In a way, having Albus want to change a major event in the past is a silly premise (or at least it makes him look rather thoughtless, but maybe that’s hereditary), but it does give us some delightful scenes from “Voldemort Day” to a new look at Snape. Actually, this play in many ways depicts how horrible Voldemort is better than the seven books did. Here you can really see the senseless death and torture, the way that evil twists and corrupts. And this gives the characters, as Scorpius notes, a chance to test themselves and determine the type of people they would like to be.
[Major spoilers ahead!] Of course the most controversial part of the plot is probably Delphini. I admit I am not sure how I feel about her being Voldemort’s daughter. I think the play would have worked just as well if she were working for someone else or were just an aspiring Death Eater. Now we all are left with a sick image of Voldemort and Bellatrix that just does not make sense to me. I just cannot imagine the conversation that happened or why Voldemort thought that trying to conceive a child (with one try!) was the thing to do. I cannot imagine what Bellatrix’s husband was thinking. It’s all so messed up that I just do not want to touch it. And, frankly, the whole “He had an heir!” plot is so overused that it risks making the story ridiculous, even though I see that it is trying to be a commentary on love and parenthood and family,
On the whole, however, I think that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a solid addition to Harry’s story. It nicely brings the old characters back while still making them seem like themselves–and older versions of themselves, which is often difficult for authors to depict–while adding a new cast of characters for fans to come to love. And it brings us back to Hogwarts and to the Wizarding World, while reminding us that the world is full of darkness and suffering, but also full of wonder and magic. And life is a mixture of both.
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