Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
I did not want to pick up this script. It came out about six months ago as the eighth story in the series I hold most near and dear to my heart. And I didn’t want to touch it, I’m glad I did, but I wish I never had to.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was published ten years before this publication hit the shelves. The Harry Potter series reached its conclusion. It was an ending I wasn’t particularly thrilled about, but it was an ending. Then Cursed Child was published. Since this piece of work bears Queen Rowling’s name it is a Potterhead’s duty to read it. And eventually I did.
The script itself was great. I flew through it with a fervor I haven’t had since reading The Hunger Games for the first time in 2013. Of course Cursed Child is a quick read (being a script, not a novel). I just felt, well, cheated. The script went places that I felt it doesn’t have the right to go to. The script visits some of the most intense scenes from the Harry Potter series, such as the deaths of Harry’s parents and Voldemort’s return. Beloved characters whose deaths I still mourn are brought back to life only to be killed again. Time and time again I caught myself thinking angrily toward the book “How dare you?! What gives you the right?!”
The entire thing felt like fanfiction. I love a good fanfic, and this was good. But I have a hard time making sense of an official fanfic. If that makes any sense. The story of Albus Severus Potter, which at the end of Deathly Hallows is left to the imagination, is “made official” in Cursed Child. It is told much too quickly. It was a tease. Four years at Hogwarts crammed into a few hundred pages. It just felt wrong.
The story, while fascinating, centered primarily around time travel. We are introduced to time-turners in Prisoner of Azkaban. And like any fictional world where time travel is accepted as fact, there is plenty of room for alternate endings. Cursed Child makes full use of that, which I thought was kind of tacky. Too easy almost. Like anyone can do it. What is to prevent wizard Joe Schmoe from using a time-turner and altering wizard history completely? It made me feel like wizard history is so fragile and easily changed that the Harry Potter saga as I know it is merely an alternate reality. Two mischievous young teenagers almost entirely wiped out the story of The Boy Who Lived in a couple hundred pages. That’s what leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I’m clearly being negative so I would like to write about some things I liked about it. Number one, Amos Diggory is an important character. When I was watching Goblet of Fire on one of Freeform’s sporadic HP marathons I wished Amos Diggory held a larger role in the remainder of the series. No one could question his motive for wanting to defeat the Dark Lord. I also like that we get some more dialogue with Severus Snape. I do believe that alternate reality Snape (who lived his life as usual and is then suddenly visited by a teenager telling him his last however many years were not supposed to unfold as they did) would have told a “time traveler” where to shove his wand. That’s another problem I have with time travel being accepted in any series. Anyways… I’m supposed to be on things I liked, dialogue with Snape, yes, the dialogue with Snape was touching. It warmed my heart to find out he was honored that Harry’s child is named after him. It provided me with some closure, though phony closure at that.
So to all the Potterheads out there, pick up the book, read it, take it with many grains of salt. I refuse to accept the events that transpired in Cursed Child as part of the Harry Potter tale. But it is still worth reading.