Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child book cover
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is finally out. It's the "final" and eighth installment of J.K. Rowling's fantastical world. On Harry Potter's thirty-sixth birthday, the special rehearsal edition of the play was published. Of course, I lined up for the midnight release party and was super excited to be apart of the phenomenon once again. Even though we're encouraged to "keep the secrets", the play is public now and I couldn't help but want to share my thoughts.

WARNING BEYOND THIS POINT - this review contains spoilers.

Set nineteen years after Deathly Hallows, young sons Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy form an unlikely friendship as they struggle to live up to their families' legendary reputation.

The duo goes to great lengths to step out of their parent's shadows. Potter, who is sorted into Slytherin instead of the favored Gryffindor house, becomes an outcast while Malfoy is bullied by swirling rumors about being an illegitimate heir to Voldemort. Don't ask me why. I'm still very confused by the results of this paternity test.

Much to the chagrin of the Potter and Granger-Weasley clan, Albus' friendship to Scorpius helps them gain access to one of the last Time Turners. They try to change the past by preventing Cedric Diggory's death. Their choices set off a domino effect, edging this installment to enchant in the best, most confusing and lol-worthy ways possible.

Cursed Child being published as a play is both a blessing and a curse. As the former it can breeze through events deeply enough to fill two acts and for the lucky fans who get to see it live on stage. As the latter, the plot is puzzling to piece together and instead becomes an enjoyable character study.

J.K. Rowling with Jack Thorne and John Tiffany choosing Cedric's death as the moment the boys try to prevent is both a great starting point but also completely random.

For many fans Diggory's death was the pivotal moment in realizing nobody we loved was safe in the wizarding world. From then on, the books became a bloodbath. If we ever wondered what life would've been like if events turned out differently, we get the lowdown in several different ways. It's fun to explore other realities that lurked under the surface like Hermione and Ron not getting married, Voldemort rising to power after Harry is Killed and wins the Battle of Hogwarts, among others.

But, Lil Potter and Lil Malfoy using the Time Turners to save Diggory kinda comes out of nowhere. Albus suffers from being the black sheep of the family for a few years before rushing into this escapade. At the end of the play there's enough emotional engagement as to why he makes this decision, but at the beginning, it's just a confusing rabbit hole. Albus is trying to make up for the mistakes his father made but to what end. It's not going to get him glory or recognition. It's a little bit perturbing that they wouldn't use the time turner to get Scorpius five minutes back with his mother, or something a bit more meaningful.

Their adventure is exciting when it first kicks off. But since their tale revolves around going back in time to correct different mistakes in alternate worlds, it become a little recyclable; like someone scratched a Prisoner of Azkaban dvd when Harry and Hermione try to save Buckbeak, and we continue to see that part of the story repeated until the Potter and Malfoy families finally make amends.

As Dumbledore once said, “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities", who the young boys decide to become is the center of this journey. Albus and Scorpio's misadventures brilliantly explores the differences, misunderstandings, and detachment teenagers with their parents often suffer. They really are the stars of the story, even if the plot is convoluted and other characters fade into the background. Through them, their fathers Harry and Draco discover their own means of parenting. Cursed Child hones in on breaking the cycle of compartmentalizing what "evil" looks like and raising the next generation differently.

This approach is also reflected with Delphi, a fascinating new addition but also the biggest and most frustrating issue. She is the result of an untamed force of nature without parental guidance striving to take her place as the rightful heiress next to the Dark Lord. Meaning: she is Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange's daughter. Like the tabloid-esque whispers of Scorpius' real parents, this aspect of the storyline felt very self-inserted rather than something meaningful for a long-term effect. While there are tiny amounts of evidence supporting this possible hook-up in the previous books, no amount of reasoning can wrap my brain around BLT and No-Nose getting it on. I laughed for a good five minutes, and this wasn't the first time my eyebrows shot through the roof with the story. Still Delphi is a cool character, but this almost ruined my ability to take her seriously.

Similar in trying to separate a book from it's film adaptation, a new challenge emerges in accepting how and if this edition fits into the wizarding world as we know it. The book works as a play, mostly because it incites fans who can't see the production to only want more, which will undoubtedly lead to re-reads and trips down memory lane. Because of the acclaim the show is getting, one can only imagine how the magical elements on the page comes to life. As a rehearsal script of Rowling's collaboration with Thorne and Tiffany, it isn't perfect. As convoluted and weird as the story becomes, the characters make the ride fun, beautiful, and adventurous. However, Cursed Child certainly has wings, but as a book, it struggles to take flight.

Rating: ★★☆

Things I Loved / Additional Thoughts:

  • "Hogwarts will be the making of you, Albus. I promise you, there is nothing to be frightened of there."
  • "...look you've got a nose."
  • Petunia kept Harry's baby blanket and Dudley sent it to him when she passed away.
  • Absolutely would love to see Platform 9 3/4, the wand fights, and the bookshelves/Ministry scene on stage
  • "I'm paint and memory, Harry, paint and memory."
  • Harry's vitriol attitude towards McGonagall = UNACCEPTABLE, DUDE.
  • Apparently, not getting the boy or girl you love turns you into a grumpypants no matter who you are. Hello, Snape-mione.
  • Draco's character development is the best.
  • Of course, it all goes back to Neville.
  • The play take place at Hogwarts where Neville is a teacher....but Neville never actually appears....Uhmph.
  • Bet me: Voldemort Day becomes a thing.
  • [ALBUS] You just saw me two minutes, ago. [SCORPIUS] A lot has happened since then.
  • Only Hermione could cancel a meeting with the Goblins.
  • Act Four. Scene 15. Favorite scene of the whole play.

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