[Review] Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

04:16 Cilla P 4 Comments


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.

Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Author: J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Source: Borrowed
Release Date: 31 July 2016

Review

After high school graduation but before university, I was required to take several classes before I can proceed with my undergrad. One of those classes was English Literature, in which we were going to do Othello. I read the book before classes and felt dread creep up on me: I didn't get Shakespeare at all! I was surely going to fail. Then, in the first day of class, the teacher came armed with a CD player. "This is a script for a play," she announced. "It's meant to be heard, not read." 

This memory kept popping up in my head as I read Cursed Child. It was the thing that kept my expectations in check, though they were still sky-high. I've loved Harry Potter so much, this installment can't be anything but fantastic. Though I suspect the play would be incredible, the script didn't make for a fantastic read. Though there were moments in it that made me smile, it didn't come close to the original series.

One of the things I loved about Cursed Child is - appropriately - the children. It's fascinating to see what they were like, considering we've gotten to know their parents so well. Albus Potter, Scorpius Malfoy, and Rose Granger-Weasley all inherit something from their parents, but they are quite their own person. I like Scorpius instantly and I can understand where Albus' angst is coming from. I love the fact that both struggle with their family legacy, and that their fathers struggle with parenting. 

The problem is, the story fast-forwards from Albus' first time on the Hogwarts Express to three years later. There's not enough room to focus on character development, for the boys or for anyone else, so the characters feel flat on paper. I imagine (hope) it will be different when the actors bring them to life. 

I didn't love the plot. I've read a lot of fanfiction, and one of the tropes Cursed Child is based on isn't one that quite makes sense to me. There are aspects of the plot that I enjoyed: the return of a ghost from Harry's past; the way 'cursed child' is a theme that can apply to a number of characters; Hermione and Ron's moments (though I'm annoyed that Ron is relegated to being the funny sidekick); and the growth of Draco Malfoy. However, as a friend pointed out, the principle of time-travel in this installment is nothing like the one established in Prisoner of Azkaban. That doesn't help with the fanfiction-y feel, and it's not even one of the best I've read. 

Part of my disappointments with this may just be due to the wrong medium. From the stage directions, I think this will look fantastic as a proper play. However, although the storyline has its bright moments, it fell short of what the Harry Potter series have achieved. 



Reading this book contributes to the following challenges:

  • Goodreads Challenge

4 comments:

  1. I definitely agree! It's a script, which is so different from the original Harry Potter series. I know it's meant to be seen and heard, not read, so I'd assume that the actual play would be a lot more enjoyable to watch. But it just feels too short to have any of the old Harry Potter-esque theme to it!

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    1. Exactly - it is too short! One of the things I loved about the original series was the character growth, and we didn't get that with this installment.

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  2. Yes, definitely! I was the same with Shakespeare, and when I got the chance to watch Macbeth on stage, it made so much more sense. I felt the same with The Cursed Child - whilst it was still engaging, it just didn't feel right.
    Totally agree with some parts feeling fanfictioney as well - there were some tropes (which I can't recall now) that felt a bit weird and unoriginal to me.
    Lovely review, Cilla, and I LOVE that graphic! :)

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    1. I'm hopeful that it's a lot better on stage, and that we'll one day get to see it! Thanks so much, Gerri! <3

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