The Saturday Reading List: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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

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The Stats:

  • Publication Date: July 31, 2016
  • Fiction, fantasy, magic, play based on a book series
  • 3.2/5
  • Warnings: I feel like this book could possibly divide the fandom into those who like the book and those who didn’t.

WARNING FOR THIS POST: There be possible spoilers below the cut.

From Amazon:

“The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

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 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.”

Zo’s Review:

Even though I’m currently 23 years old, I’m still under the assumption that the owl carrying my letter from Hogwarts just got lost crossing the pond (because sorry Jo, but the North American wizarding world is kind of a cultural appropriation mess). With that said, I, like many other Potterheads, was excited to hear about a new installment to the series.

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However, to put it very simply, after reading it, I can say I didn’t hate Harry Potter and the Cursed Child but, I didn’t love it either.

Okay, before the super scary die-hard fans who think Rowling can do no wrong come after me, there are several legit reasons why it’s understandable that this book just didn’t reach the same level of “love” as the first seven books. Here are some of them:

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1.) The book is actually a script of a play. 

The biggest difference between a script for a play and a regular novel is how things are described. In a script, there are stage directions that the actors are then allowed to add their own layer of interpretation to onto the stage that, if done well, adds so much depth to the entire work. However, with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, unless you either have the financial means to go see the play in person or they bring a version of the play closer to wherever you are (and I desperately hope they keep POC Hermione if they ever bring it to the states because it would mean so much to many POC fans and add a subtle but important layer to the character’s experience as a “muggle born”. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read this.) you just don’t get that depth and the lines, without actors to really bring the characters to life kind of come off as flat.

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2.) There’s nothing really new about the wizarding world. 

One of the things I always looked forward to when I started reading a new Harry Potter book was learning something new about the world of witches and wizards. Whether it be a new spell, a magical creature, or something about the social and cultural history and dynamics of the wizarding world, the previous books always built upon things, expanding Rowling’s wonderful universe. When looking at the series as a whole, it goes from this fantastical, wonderful, magical world to a still fantastical, wonderful, magical world but with a bit more darkness, grit, and realness.

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I just didn’t feel that way with The Cursed Child. It felt like the entire script just relied a little too much on the fan’s nostalgia of the previous books without bringing anything new to the table. Also, don’t get me started on the “villain” of the story. It really seemed cliched. I mean, Harry and the gang went through a war when they were just teenagers, being forced to grow up really quickly. The obvious PTSD alone is enough of a “villain” for a plot and if that had been more of a focus, not only could the script have really brought many of the characters to life, it could have been another moment for fans of the series to really feel like Harry’s world is even more real and relatable. These are people who even though they saved their world had their childhoods taken away from them. You see hints of that throughout from Harry’s perspective but not much from Ron’s (who has been totally reduced to pure comic relief) or Hermione’s (who seems less self-confident than her teenage self). To be perfectly honest, overall, this story didn’t feel fresh at all which leads to the biggest issue with this new installment in the series…

3.) It wasn’t written by J.K. Rowling. 

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I know, J.K. Rowling’s name is in big letters on the cover but if you read all the words, you see that the script is “based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling” and that the actual script is by Jack Thorne. Now, I don’t know exactly how the process worked between Rowling, Thorne, and John Tiffany in terms of the story and plot – let’s not even talk about the weird plot twists this installment had – but whatever you think about this story, whether good or bad, I think we can all agree that the writing style is different. Finishing up the series with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, I felt an emotional connection with many of the characters (Hermione, Luna, Fred and George, Dobby, Draco, etc.). I felt like I knew them and loved them, hated them, or felt sorry for them. (I cried so long over Fred’s death and still tear up now and then when I think about it.) Obviously, I wasn’t expecting the whole entire gang in this one but I was expecting the characters we got to know to still be flawed characters but flawed characters that still had that spark that we all fell in love with.

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I know that The Cursed Child focuses more on Harry’s relationship with his son, Albus, but I really felt like the characterization of everyone, except for Scorpius – bless his cinnamon roll heart – was kind of lazy. I didn’t feel bad for the characters because the situation actually made me feel sad for them but because it felt like the default. Again, I don’t know how involved Rowling was directly with what we see in this version of the script but honestly, it felt more like fanfiction – not to say anything bad about fanfiction, there are some amazing Harry Potter fanfics out there – in the way that it just didn’t seem to have the full J.K. Rowling magic. However, according to an article I read, the Special Rehearsal Edition Script is not the most recent version of the play that will be out so maybe things will be cleaned up a bit in the newer version. And we all know that no matter how we felt about this book, we’ll probably all buy the next one.

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Though Harry Potter and the Cursed Child had its “meh” moments, there were definitely elements that shined through for me:

  1. Scorpius. This child is just too precious for this world. Albus, you better appreciate your friend!
  2. The scene towards the end with Hagrid.
  3. Hermione as Minister for Magic.
  4. We got to see Snape again. You will be missed. “Always”
  5. Daddy Draco. I mean, he’s not a perfect dad but you can definitely see that he loves his son.

There’s a lot more I could say about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child but I don’t want to give too many spoilers away. However, despite my feelings about this latest book, I still really love the Harry Potter series and its characters will always have a special place in my heart.

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What do you guys think? Have you read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child already? Have any other book suggestions that I should add to my Saturday Reading List? Leave your thoughts behind in the comments. Just be respectful please.

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