Love blinds. We have both tried to give our sons, not what they needed, but what we needed. We’ve been so busy trying to rewrite our own pasts, we’ve blighted their present.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
By J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
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 review pains me. Pains me. I wanted to love this latest edition to the Harry Potter Universe- I went to a midnight release party, I’ve re-read all of the books. I was ready, and I was excited.
But it was just… alright. For all the hype surrounding the 8th Harry Potter story, it was just… OK.
It was fabulous getting to read a Potterverse story again. That experience is an intangible that I can’t quite rate. But the story itself? I expected better.
Sure, there is probably a lot lost in the presentation- the book is actually a script for the two-part stage production that just opened in London. There are stages cues and notes on set direction and I’m sure with all of that the experience would be lovely. But the script is about the words, and the words are just lacking. It reads like sub-par fanfiction at more than one point, and I’ve admittedly read my share of that. I would know.
The characterizations of those wizards most familiar to readers are all over the place. Ron is a total doofus, Harry is sort of a jerk, Neville is non-existent. Sure, they have aged, but their treatment has little nuance. Their children, who are mostly new to the page, fare a little better (though it is Draco’s child who really steals the show). The dialog lacks a lot of the whimsy and heart that really made the Potter books stand out. The magic is missing.
And the same can be said for the plot itself, which is convoluted and full of tropes that I think were intended as fan service, but didn’t play out in especially satisfying ways. Time travel just seems like a cheap option, and hidden evil love children? Really? I enjoyed many of the smaller moments- Albus’s severe middle-child syndrome, or the individual time ripples on their own. But there were so many possibilities for these characters. The slate was clean but we had to revisit Cedric Diggory of all things? And don’t even get me started on all the weird magical inconsistencies. But that’s just me griping as a super nerd.
It was fun to read Potter again, and there were some bright spots to the story. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. As someone who regularly places very high at Harry Potter trivia tournaments, loving and obsessing over the Potterverse comes easy to me. But for this one… it just didn’t.
Should You Read This?
Despite my griping, I do think that you should read this if you’re a fan of the previous Potter books. It is the 8th story after all. If you’re just a casual fan, or have maybe seen the movies, you can probably skip it.
And that said, once it comes to the states I will definitely see the stage show. I think the format of this particular volume lost some of the wonder, which I’d imagine is most apparent in an actual production. Sure, the story won’t change, but at least it will look more magical. If only the tickets weren’t an arm and a leg this December when I’m actually in London. Oh well, I already blew my theater budget this year on original cast Hamilton tickets, so I shouldn’t complain.
Summary from Goodreads