Overview: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
***This review contains light spoilers, proceed at your own risk***
In 2007, Potterheads thought “All was well.” were the last words in the story of their beloved boy wizard. The announcement of the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was the 8th Potter story cause widespread rejoicing. The story picks up where Deathly Hallows left off as the Trio watch their kids depart for their wizarding alma mater.
The fear of being sorted into Slytherin preoccupies Albus Severus Potter despite his father’s assurances that being a Slytherin isn’t a shameful thing. He and his close friend and cousin, Rose Weasley, find a seat in a compartment with Scorpius Malfoy, Draco’s son. Rose quickly leaves the compartment, prejudiced against Scorpius due to his father’s sins. Albus remains behind, much to Rose’s chagrin, and strikes up a friendship with Scorpius.
Albus’s first few years at Hogwarts diverge greatly from his father’s experience as a young wizard. Where Harry found a home in Hogwarts, Albus finds a virtual torture chamber. Unpopular and derided by all of his classmates besides Scorpius, Albus dreads returning to Hogwarts every fall. Harry tries his best to support Albus but the relationship between the two grows more contentious as Albus feels like a failure to the Potter name. When Albus overhears a confrontation between his parents and someone from their past, he hatches a plan with the hope that his father will finally be proud of him.
A few days before the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I finally decided to pre-order the book on Amazon. I’d already put in a request for the book to my library but began to worry that I’d have to wait for a copy. I don’t have great self-control when it comes to spoilers and feared I would wind up spoiling the plot for myself. I soon had buyer’s remorse after looking at my packed-to-the-brim bookshelf and canceled my order at the last minute, and boy, am I glad I did.
My library had a copy of the book on reserve for me as soon as it released, so I don’t have to worry about this disappointing book taking up room on my shelf. I wanted to like this book so much, I really did. I knew it wouldn’t be the same as the original Harry Potter series and adjusted my expectations. As long as it didn’t veer off into ridiculous, out-of-character territory, it would be okay. Well, so much for that.
That’s not to say the script didn’t have good points. It realistically shows the struggle parents have raising teenaged children who are different from how they were as teenagers. Harry cares deeply about Albus but finds it difficult to comfort his son. Harry can’t seem to find the right words to help Albus because he and Albus had different obstacles at Hogwarts. They seem to miss the one experience they have in common: living up to their names.
I also loved the friendship between Albus and Scorpius which reminded me of the Trio’s friendship. Albus reminded me so much of Order of the Phoenix Harry, and Scorpius had shades of Ron. Both sets of friends had a certain outsider status and forged strong friendships while taking comfort in each other. I also wasn’t expecting to see so many characters from the original series, and it was wonderful to have them back one last time.
Now, to describe the things I didn’t like in the vaguest possible terms. There were two major plot points that ruined the whole book for me. One was the adventure Albus and Scorpius have and the means by which they are able to accomplish this. A twist revealed during the last fourth of the play sealed my disbelief. A big complaint about The Cursed Child is that it reads like fanfiction. These two points epitomized fanfic so thoroughly I actually put the book down at multiple points and sputtered, “Are you actually effing kidding me with this?” It was silly and out-of-character for certain characters involved. I just couldn’t believe they went in a direction that could easily be found on fanfiction.net. My final, more minor complaint: NOT ENOUGH RON.
I’m willfully writing most of this off as non-canon in my head because to do otherwise would be too upsetting. I would have preferred more of a focus on the relationships rather than a rehashed adventure and a done-for-shock-value twist.
Rating: 2 out of 5 golden snitches