Books

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

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4 Stars

The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.

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.

This is a book millions of people all over the world have been dying to read since its announcement, with many staying up until midnight to pick it up. And overall, people across the board have felt varying levels of disappointment, and they have reason to feel this way. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was not all that, but not terrible either. In fact, if treated as separate from the original series, it’s actually quite enjoyable.

First of all, let me talk about the thing that’s irking fans the most: the play format. Cursed Child was written for the stage, not as a novel, and this change is jarring to some. It’s true that it’s more difficult to become emotionally involved with the book when all you have is dialogue and stage directions, but it must be considered that since we’re reading what we’re meant to watch, expectations must be lowered, at least a bit.

Secondly, the plot. This is also a sticking point for the disappointed fans, because it is strange. Quite strange. I was very surprised that the plot relied on a plot device Rowling purposefully took out of the question in the originals so it couldn’t be used again, since it’s too difficult to write and leaves too many gaping plot holes. There were also plot twists that, other than causing the whole thing to sound like fan-fiction, really do not make sense when inserted in the timeline of the entire Harry Potter story. Overall, I find it hard to accept this installment as canon in a series I’ve loved for so long.

However, the thing that pushed my rating up to 4 stars, despite the odd format and plot, despite everything fans have been complaining about, is the nostalgia. We see new characters and old, characters we know and love and even characters we thought we’d never see again. I loved to see the HP gang mature and rehash their past. Even the family drama between Albus and Harry (AKA angst), which many fans were not huge fans of, was fun to read as it provided so much insight on how Harry’s been faring in the 19 years since Deathly Hallows. Albus and Scorpius are also adorable dorks, and I couldn’t help but feel some affection for them even as they went from one blunder to the next, all in the name of doing “good.” I was happiest about the return of my favorite character from the original series (and I’m not going to tell you who, because spoilers), as well as a scene I’ve been imagining happening for years.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will not fill the void Potterheads like me have been feeling since the release of Deathly Hallows. However, it is not nearly as terrible as some say, as long as it’s read with an open mind and relaxed attitude. I do hope no more installments to the HP series will be written, because I do believe Cursed Child was enough to let the world know that this brilliant series is finally over and further milking will taint the perfection associated with it.

~Liz

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