Writers: J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
Genre: Screenplay, Fantasy
This year, the world of Harry Potter grew larger with the publication of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. We haven’t had a Wizarding World story since The Deathly Hallows in 2007. The book was received quietly this summer, despite the franchise having ten books (counting the Hogwarts library), eight movies, and a sizable chunk of a theme park at the time of publication. It seems the jury is still out on how to handle this new cannon.
As a sequel to the Harry Potter series, The Cursed Child spends time with the children of the main cast. Albus Potter, Scorpius Malfoy, and Rose Granger-Weasley carry their parents’ legacies. This does not mean we never see our favorite wizards and witches. On the contrary, Harry and crew are very involved in the lives of their children.
The Cursed Child is a screenplay, originally developed for the stage production at London’s West End. John Tiffany (the director) and Jack Thorne (the writer) both have many years of theater experience under their belts. Of course, J.K. Rowling had a hand in the making of the story, though it is unclear how much was her work.
Violence: Most of the hurting is wand-related. A few people are killed with the Avada Kedavra spell. Two wizards duel with intent to harm each other, but the fight ends without bloodshed.
Sexual Content: Albus, disguised as Ron, tries to distract Hermione by kissing her several times and declaring that he wants another baby. The scene is humorously awkward. In another part, Moaning Myrtle is as flirtatious as always.
Drugs/Alcohol Use: Ron mentions drinking several times. Apparently, he was stoned at his own wedding.
Spiritual Content: Christians consider the use of magic to be a spiritual no-no. In the fictional Wizarding World, magic has little connection to spiritual realms in everyday life. Each Christian must decide for themselves if they are comfortable reading about the magic of Harry Potter.
Language/Crude Humor: Ron says, “Bloody hell.” Go figure.
Negative Content: Like his father before him, Albus lies and sneaks to get his own way. His intentions may be noble, but his methods are questionable. Some of his actions have definite negative consequences, but others go unanswered.
Positive Content: The story explores many uplifting themes such as family (especially father-son relationships), growing up, responsibility, and friendship.
“Albus Severus Potter, you were named after two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew.”
And so The Cursed Child begins where The Deathly Hallows ended. Albus Potter boards the Hogwarts Express for the first time, surrounded by his family and our old friends: Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione. The nostalgia is real.
The Cursed Child is advertised as the eighth book of the Harry Potter series. I have to disagree for a few reasons.
The story’s main character is Albus Potter, not Harry. Though we do spend time with Harry and the plot deals with much of his past, Albus drives the story. He makes decisions that put the rest of the book into motion.
We see the consequences of those decisions through the eyes of three different people: Albus, Harry, and briefly, Scorpius Malfoy. This point-of-view changing is a jarring difference from the seven Harry Potter books.
Though Albus is our main character, we do not get to much detail of his time at Hogwarts. The story moves quickly through his first few years, then dives straight into an epic adventure. We see only snippets of what normal life looks like for the Potter family. I blame this lack of detail on the fact that this book is a screenplay.
Because it is essentially a script, we get most of the story in dialogue. It reads very quickly, which can be fun, but I felt that it moved too quickly. The three creators — J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne — tried to infuse a magical spin into some of the descriptions. For example: “There is a giant whoosh of light and smash of noise. And time stops. And then it turns over, thinks a bit, and begins spooling backwards… .” These are lovely words, but the tense and brevity of such descriptions are like a tease. It’s almost Harry Potter, but not quite.
If this book had been written like the seven Harry Potter books, it would have been phenomenal. The story is a good balance of old and new. However, as a script, it feels corny. Everything is over-dramatic. Many of the scenes end with quips, which gets old fast. It could easily be fanfic, except that Rowling was involved in the making of it. The overall quality of the book left me feeling cheated.
That said, there are some major feels here. We get to visit many old friends, enemies, and places. Draco and Harry are still fighting. The whole world is still being threatened by a dark force. Hogwarts still has a few surprises in store. It is wonderful (for the most part) to watch our familiar friends interact with new people and circumstances. One of my favorite pieces was seeing Professor McGonagall as the Headmaster of Hogwarts.
A major theme is the importance of friendship and family. Like all of us, Albus has the potential to become a selfish and cruel person. His pride rivals Harry’s. In the end, it doesn’t matter which house Albus is sorted into; he cannot succeed without the love and support of those around him.
These magical moments are part of the reason I was so disappointed. I wanted to be transported to the Wizarding World, just like old times. Unfortunately, the illusion was kept out of reach by the way the story flowed and how the characters developed.
If you are a Potterhead, read the book. Don’t expect too much, because this is not the eighth book you were hoping for. Even so, you will probably enjoy the return to Hogwarts.
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+ Loads of nostalgia + Good storyline
- Feels a bit like fanfiction
The Bottom Line
If you are a Potterhead, read the book. Don't expect too much, because this is not the eighth book you were hoping for. Even so, you will probably enjoy the return to Hogwarts.