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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Book Review – Pumpkin Pasties with the Potters

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No spoilers in the review, but I cannot speak for the discussions that may take place in the comments. Which could very well contain spoilers. I also describe the plot of the book, so if knowing the plot is a spoiler to you, then avoid. Also, discussion of character professions in the book.

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

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.

The Good Bits.

Scorpius Malfoy

Scorpius was everything I imagined him to be and more. Some people have been describing him as a second Hermione but I would disagree. While he was portrayed as a lover of books and knowledge, he wasn’t the headstrong leader that I’ve always found Hermione to be. In fact, he often seemed unsure of himself and didn’t have a lot of self-confidence in the beginning. But he broke my heart from the first appearance because of how earnest he is. All he wants is to make friends and fit in. He made me think of what Harry might have been if he wasn’t the Chosen One. On top of that, he’s kind of goofy which I also enjoy. And he coloured the characters around him. I wasn’t interested in any of the other next generation characters, but when Scorpius was in the scene with them, he made them shine.

Original Generation Characters

It’s no secret that I’ve never liked Ron or Ginny Weasley. I’ve always found them to be tag along characters, but recently have been learning to warm up to Ginny. When I was reading the play, I completely lost any lingering animosity for them. I don’t know if it was that reading about them when they’re older made them more mature, or if their characters had changed that much. Ron’s function in the play was mostly comic relief, but with the absence of that unattractive undercurrent of jealousy that followed him in the books. And Ginny grew into a mature character of her own. There’s even reference to her experience in the Chamber of Secrets and how that affected her.

I think Harry was meant to be a jerk for much of the play, but I didn’t feel that way. In fact, adult Harry reminded me a lot of the novel Harry, but with that same insecurity he had in the earlier books. And I understood that he and Albus were going through some things, but I felt myself sticking to Harry’s side. Even though Harry’s misguided, you can tell that he’s trying his best to connect with his son and do right by him. And he messes up, but that feels accurate of parenthood. And I felt for Harry and absolutely got choked up when he goes looking for guidance from a portrait of a certain someone. Okay. I’ll be real. I straight up cried. I was emotional about the reunion and all the things said that went unsaid in the books.

Sour Grapes.

Plot aka “Time travel? Seriously?”

Everything ever about the plot. I could not understand Albus’ motivation to go back in time. PS, that’s the plot detail. The play is about Albus deciding to go back in time to change a pivotal event, in an attempt to do God knows what. I think he wanted to show he could do something Harry never could? It was played fast and loose. And to be honest, it’s a stupid plot. Yes, I said it. It’s stupid.

If Cursed Child wasn’t penned by JK Rowling and didn’t have the Harry Potter characters, I would have never finished this play. I know the work belongs to the author, but I felt cheated by the plot. It was the sort of thing where you wonder if someone said ‘just write the first thing that comes to mind, they’ll buy anything you feed them.’ There were so many plot holes, every time something new happened I rolled my eyes. There was so much opportunity with this play, and the plot let it down. It was like the 7th book epilogue all over again…

Dead Characters

Because there was time travel, we were able to see characters who are dead in the current Harry Potter world. But I wished that there was more concentration about what was going on in the current world. Hermione is now in a prominent position in the wizarding world but we don’t even know what she’s accomplished. Ron is running the joke shop but we don’t hear a peep about George Weasley or any of the other Weasleys. Neville works at the school and we never see him. And what about Luna Lovegood? I knew she probably wasn’t going to be in it, but still!

And then the dead characters we hear from aren’t even the best characters that are dead! It’s so frustrating. I wanted to read this book to find out about all the characters and what their lives were like, but all you get is rehashing of characters in the past.

The Last Bite.

I’m at odds with the play. The story, without a doubt, makes use of a terrible plot and runs with it. What makes this play worth reading isn’t the play itself, but the nostalgia of reconnecting with the characters. Harry has never been my favourite character, but the only times I cried reading the play was for him. As an adult you watch him struggle to create the sort of childhood he never had. While at the same time confronting demons from his own childhood that will haunt him forever. I cried for all the things Harry never had and never would. No matter what I thought of the play, reading about Harry will always feel like coming home to an old and dear friend.

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What did you think of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? If you haven’t read it yet, will you?

Also, who do you think the cursed child is? Is it Albus Potter? or someone else?

Let’s do lunch again next week!

 

2 Comments

  • verushka

    August 7, 2016 at 8:07 am

    You’ve made me very curious about Scorpius! He kind of reminds me of Luna, a little, from what you described. Was Harry really intended to be the jerk in this? I guess if Albus is the focus, Harry needed to be the antagonist? I can’t imagine Harry being the jerk, but I can’t imagine him grown up and being a father too. I like thinking of him messing up as being indicative of being a parent more than anything. That feels realistic — even the Chosen One messes up with their kids!
    verushka recently posted…Blame: When Motherhood isn’t picture perfectMy Profile

    Reply
    • ltlibrarian

      August 7, 2016 at 11:37 am

      It’s funny, but every time I read a review for Cursed Child they say he’s they’re favourite.

      Yup. Mostly I think Harry is struggling with being a parent to a child that’s harder to connect with. And so he ends up saying jerky things and making rash decisions that just make things worse. And yes, I agree, parents mess up, so why wouldn’t Harry?

      Reply

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