Review – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

cursed-childTitle: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Author:  J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
Published by: Little, Brown
Publication date: 31st July 2016
Pages: 343, hardback
Genre: fiction, fantasy

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.

***

(NOTE: this review does contain spoilers)

In this blog post I thought I’d look back on one of the better things to come out of 2016: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. It’s pretty obvious that I am not alone in my enthusiasm for this book (or rather, screenplay), not least because it smashed the records for the most pre-orders on multiple websites before its release. I started the Harry Potter series aged 5, and so have been invested in these books for many years. The last time there was ever this much Harry Potter anticipation was in 2011, with the release of the final movie, and suddenly this year there was an explosion of activity from the HP universe.

The story had me absolutely hooked. The plot is so clever and complex, and the fact that it is communicated in an engaging way, within the confines of a screenplay format, is completely amazing. I literally loved all the characters (except for Umbridge in the brief appearance she makes, of course). Whether it be a new or old character, good or bad, the characterisation was excellent, and I was interested and invested in all of them.

I also loved the redemption of Draco Malfoy and the Slytherin House. I thought that placing Albus in Slytherin was genius, and completely unexpected – I literally think I gasped when I read the sorting scene. Not to mention Scorpius, and the perfectly adorable friendship between Scorpius and Albus which provided the positive representation Slytherin desperately needed.

I feel that J.K. Rowling has really taken control of the story again. Over the last 15 years, the world of Harry Potter has been blown into epic proportions with people creating their own headcanons and fan theories. Now, amidst this brand new storyline she has created, there’s also been development of previous characters which just serves as a reminder to the reader that Harry Potter was not built on headcanons and fan theories, but on J.K. Rowling’s brilliant imagination (a reminder I feel is necessary for some readers).

If I’m completely honest, when I realised that Cursed Child was a screenplay, and not a novel, I was disappointed. Just like many other people, I’m sure. I’m just going to put it out there: if you like the look of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child because you enjoy reading screenplays, and not because of your complete love for the Harry Potter series, then you may find this a little simplistic in its structure. I have read many other screenplays with much more detail in terms of stage directions, and personally I find the extra bit of description makes a play much more reader-friendly.

This aside, the entire time I was reading it I couldn’t help but picture what it would be like performed on stage. It’s clear that the ambiguity of the screenplay is intentional; it leaves it open to interpretation and means that the stage production is surely sensational (as I’ve heard from numerous reviews). It’s a bit like solving the problem of having someone sit in a cinema saying ‘That’s not in the book!’

 

In a way, I feel as if this screenplay is just a way to encourage people to see the stage show, but it is a creative and thoroughly enjoyable way of doing so. Although I don’t think I’m a massive fan of the format the story was written in, I did love reading it, and I’m now itching to see it on stage. I also have the overwhelming urge to reread the whole series again, but I don’t think my TBR list would forgive me.

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