Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany

Harry Potter and Cursed ChildINFORMATION

Goodreads: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Series: Harry Potter #8
Source: Borrowed
Published: July 2016

SUMMARY

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.

Review

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.

Need more magic?  Try our interactive Wizarding School Adventure!

4 starsKrysta 64

19 thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany

  1. Lunch-Time Librarian says:

    I fully agree with you about Albus. I went into the story expecting to love Scorpius (since I loved Draco) and was surprised by how much I genuinely enjoyed his character. From the very first scene my heart went out to him as a child working against rumors and a poor reputation. A lot of the plot points seemed to be playing really fast and loose and were more devices to bring in old characters than things that made sense. But it was enjoyable to read.

    I was surprised at how small a part Rose played in it TBH. But I guess Rowling was trying to avoid creating another golden trio?

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I liked Rose, so I was sad she barely appeared in the play, but I suppose it makes sense that Rowling wouldn’t want to make it look like she was repeating Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Even though Scorpius is sort of a mini Hermione combined with Ron’s loyalty, and Albus is another Harry!

      Draco was pretty great, too. I loved seeing Harry and him go on an adventure together. Think what could have been if Draco’s father weren’t so horrible.

      Like

      • Lunch-Time Librarian says:

        I couldn’t decide what to think of Rose since she wasn’t in it much. I had a hard time connecting with her, but I do feel badly for people like you that wanted to see more of her.

        Yes! Harry and Draco teaming up was fun to see.

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        • Krysta says:

          The more I think about it, the more it seems like they had to sideline Rose because she would have been too smart to allow Scorpius and Albus to change anything. And then we’d have no plot. I suppose most people would have preferred a different plot, though. 😉

          Like

          • Lunch-Time Librarian says:

            Yeah, she probably would have said something sensible like “why are you trying this again if it didn’t work the first time?” which was the biggest gaping plot hole of life. The plot, in my opinion, was terrible. It was all about the characters

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Emily | RoseRead says:

    I’m really glad I read this review because I really disliked the play, strongly. It’s good to hear that some people liked it and I’m always interested to see why. I think most of the characters acted very out of character and that the plot was more fanfiction-y than some fanfiction. Review forthcoming…

    That being said, I loved Scorpius. And Draco was pretty good.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Most of the reviews I have been seeing have been saying it reads like fanfiction, but aside from the Voldemort’s daughter plot twist (which I admit I find cliche) I don’t really see it. I shall have to read your review to find out more! 😉

      After reading this play I want to see Harry and Draco as BFFs going around solving magical crimes and fighting evil together.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. La La in the Library says:

    I gave it four stars, too. I was supposed to do a tandem review with the blogger I buddy read it with, but she hates it so much that It would make it difficult because I have a section in my reviews where I refute unfounded negative things in reviews I have seen on Goodreads, and I would be refuting her, so we decided to do one of my Saturday Evening Conversations posts about it. I am going to ask her ten questions about the play/book and she is goiung to ask me ten. My Amazon review was up less than an hour before I got a hate comment. I think this play got misunderstood by a lot of readers. My buddy reader thought it was JKR teaching us a lesson for begging for more Potter.

    Like

    • Briana says:

      That’s really interesting! Krysta and I were just chatting about it (I haven’t read it yet, but I don’t care much about spoilers), and she was pondering doing a post addressing what she also thought were some misconceptions. Even as someone, I repeat, who hasn’t read it, I’ve been getting the impression that some of the negative reactions are because it’s a script of something that’s meant to be staged, not a novel. Scripts work differently and all that…

      I also just think there’s practically no way everyone would have been satisfied. A large part of the readership grew up on HP. It defined their childhood. I find often that I have really whimsical, really positive opinions of books that influenced me greatly as a child, whether those books “deserve” my undying admiration or not. I think the people who read and loved HP when they were 11 are very likely to read a new sequel with very different eyes now as adults. There’s no way it can live up to their “original” memories.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. DoingDewey says:

    I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to read this, because I’ve gotten tired of Rowling messing with the Harry Potter world. After reading your review, I’m a bit more interested. I appreciate that she’s managed to stay true to the characters’ personalities in the original.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I seem to be the only person who thinks the characters are the same, but then characters shown grown up never do seem to appeal to people. I guess we always want them to be better than they are or to retain something of childhood when, in reality, it would be weird if 30-something Harry were still acting like he was twelve or even seventeen.

      Like

  5. Ravenclaw Book Club says:

    Most people have given a more negative review of this book, so it’s interesting to see such a positive one. Also the first review I see that doesn’t mention queerbaiting.
    I still need to get my hands on this, and I’m definitely excited to read it!

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I think it was impossible for this book to please fans as everyone has this vision of what HP is or means to them and no story can live up to something like “This was my favorite childhood series” or “These books changed my life.” It has its flaws, sure, but I think it’s only fair to point out that there are some good moments and that even the flaws we perceive were put there for artistic reasons, even if they didn’t work out.

      I can see why readers would interpret a gay relationship (I wondered if the story was going to have one myself), but I also think (and this is another unpopular opinion) that our culture has lost something of the meaning of friendship. Every time we see really close friends who are open with each other or prepared to die for each other, we seem to start wondering if they are “more than friends.” But you could really love your friend enough to die for them. And you might say sappy things to your friend about how you love and appreciate them. I think we need to rehabilitate friendship in literature and recognize it is a valid and strong form of love, too. Which is probably what the play meant to do. You can argue about if it was successful or ended up queerbaiting, but “queerbaiting” sort of implies (to me) they got a kick out of messing with fans and I don’t think that was really their end goal.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Krysta says:

          I was pondering this all day and I wonder if they were sort of setting up a gay relationship in a way that would make it more palatable to audiences who want “family-friendly” fare or if they were setting up a gay relationship for later (of course, in a story that will likely never be written), The two are fourteen, so it’s possible Scorpius and Albus are gay or bi and just haven’t explored it much yet because they’re young. I suppose that we could look at it as we’re seeing a friendship between children that would potentially later develop into a romance.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Ravenclaw Book Club says:

            I guess that could be, but I think if that was the plan it’s just like the whole Dumbledore thing. You know, the idea that he’s gay but it’s not actually in the books. Stuff like that bothers me.

            Like

            • Krysta says:

              Well, I’m not arguing it’s a bold or right choice, but maybe they thought it was better to code in a romance than to have none at all. The reality is that these choices are made for money and people who don’t want a gay romance will boycott a work with one, but people do want a romance aren’t likely to boycott one without one. My thinking is that maybe they tried to please both sides. Of course, as we know, trying to please everyone usually means you please very few.

              Liked by 1 person

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