Thursday, August 25, 2016
Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne
Authors: J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne
Series: Harry Potter, #8
Publisher: Little, Brown
Publication Date: 31 July 2016
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia
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. (summary from Goodreads)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is nothing like what I expected and so much more than I ever could have imagined.
I loved this script. 100% completely adored it, to the point I've found myself getting defensive of negative remarks. But hey, you can't please everyone. Me though, I am very, very pleased. The Cursed Child felt like coming home again. Everything I cherish about Harry Potter and this marvelous wizarding world Rowling has created is right here again. She may not have written the words herself, but Rowling's heart is still in this story. As an obsessed Harry Potter fan (aren't we all?!) I was of course beyond excited to read any new Harry Potter story, but I admit, the fact that it was a script and focused more on Albus had me a tiny bit leery. Not in any major way, just not full of hope or expectation for particular things. I was preparing myself for anything, I guess - and yet, as it turns out, not so prepared after all. Writing this review isn't easy as what I want to do is gush and pretty much relive the story blow by blow - but I'm determined to keep the secrets, at least for now. Someday I might write another essay length review that will cover absolutely every detail. But in the meantime -
The script format didn't bother me. I got so into the story I was barely aware of how it was a script from very early on. Of course a novel is awesome, especially in this situation where I can't help wanting more and more. But honestly, I'm happy this story was a script. It's snappy and enthralling, and after seven books and eight movies I don't need pages of descriptive text - I know this world. The stage directions are more than enough to help me picture the story and even fired my imagination enough to try and picture how it would play out on stage. And by this time enough photos of the play had been released to help too. Fair warning - reading The Cursed Child will make you want to pool every last cent you have into getting to London to see this play. I'd say that's the only downside to the script for me - I so badly want to see it performed and I'm all the more depressed now that I can't. I so hope it comes to Australia someday. And soon.
The thing that both surprised me and had me truly loving The Cursed Child is the emotion I felt. I had figured that maybe a script would mean the emotional impact was lessened. Yeah, no. I was a wreck after finishing this because I didn't know how to feel. It's a return to and another end to Harry Potter and it's bittersweet. But the story blew me away. I was so shocked by the plot. The Cursed Child has so much new stuff but the way it's reliant on the old, on the stories of the previous seven books, is unexpected and just wonderful. The Cursed Child is an emotional rollercoaster. It's really only a 2 to 3 hour read but it took me a few hours more because I kept having to take breathers and calm down. Yeah, I'm not kidding. I've always been a mess when it comes to Harry Potter, and The Cursed Child is no different. I was excited and scared, not wanting to read it too fast. Then I got really angry and had to have a rant. I got so immersed and worried that I was physically antsy and then - THEN. Cue bawling my eyes out. Rowling, Tiffany and Thorne did the one thing that shattered my heart in the most beautiful way and left me sobbing so much I couldn't read. Bless my mother, I tell you. She put up with me ranting, raving, flailing, crying, screaming, laughing - it wasn't so pretty. Mostly she laughed at me, but she still listened and it was so great to have that outlet. Might I recommend buddy reading The Cursed Child? The rest of The Cursed Child went much the same way - the highs of joy, laughter and love, the lows of anger, heartbreak and despair. Man, what Harry had to face. There's a twist that kind of threw me. It had to grow on me but I really ended up appreciating it. Sure, it's cliche, and for some maybe even borders on ridiculous, but for me it worked and forever changed my view of some things. I'm kind of wishing Rowling had switched to the point of view of her villains now and then. The Cursed Child is still very much Harry's story. It felt like such a nice ending. Tiny little threads, some I'd never ever thought to question, were tied up. The Cursed Child is about the how it could have beens, and ultimately, it reveals that this is how it's meant to be and I couldn't agree more.
I don't know which characters to discuss first! I'm going to have to fight to not gush here. Not everyone agrees, but I'm so very happy with how Rowling, Tiffany and Thorne portrayed both the new characters and our old favourites. The Cursed Child is mostly narrated from the point of views of Albus, Scorpius and Harry, so let's start there. I freely admit it took me a little bit of time to really love Albus. He kind of infuriated me. I felt for his situation but still wanted to shake some sense into him. Kind of like how I felt about Harry throughout The Order of the Phoenix. He's led by his anger. Albus's relationship with Harry is tense and grows even more so as the story continues. I found it very genuine. Being a child of Harry Potter wouldn't be easy, but to be one that isn't exactly like his father? It's tough. Rowling, Tiffany and Thorne delved into the prejudices of the wizarding world here; they show that much more needs to change than just the relationships between parents and children. Unlike Albus, Scorpius was instant love at first sight for me. I love him so much! I want to coo over him always because he is just freaking adorable! His friendship with Albus is probably one of my most favourite things about The Cursed Child. They're such contrasts; sons of such well known figures and facing preconceived expectations of the type of person they should be, but each shoulder it differently. Their friendship is a great strength, a lesson, and I liked that. It stands with the other great friendships of the Harry Potter series - Harry, Ron and Hermione; Fred and George; James, Sirius and Remus. Oh dear, I may get teary again. The friendship of our Trio still shines throughout The Cursed Child. They're older, fulfilling different roles, and yes, they're not exactly the same as they were in the original series, but really, at heart they're the same characters we grew to love. Harry feels the weight of every victory and every loss, he still fights like it's all his responsibility. Hermione is still the smartest and most capable ever, leading as always, in her way. Ron is lame jokes and loyalty, still standing by those he loves, always ready to support them and have their backs. Together they make mistakes, learn from them, and get on with it. Ginny is still the quietly strong woman she grew up to be. I like how she stands back and lets Harry get to where he needs to be, but is ready to offer a fierce talking to if he doesn't. Much like Scorpius, Draco is another favourite of mine. He always has been. I felt for Draco throughout the novels and thought there was more to him, and I adore that The Cursed Child proves it. Draco, his relationships with his son and with the Trio, are a great portrayal of how much stays the same and how much changes. Other surprising characters are central to The Cursed Child, while some favourites are mentioned only in passing, and sadly, other favourites not mentioned at all. I'm not mentioning names, because as I said, keep the secrets, but I can't help but wish there was a little more reference to some beloved characters. This isn't a detriment to The Cursed Child however. It just is. Even if I'd gotten those mentions, I'd still want more, let's face it.
I will always want more Harry Potter. The Cursed Child is a swift read, full of surprise and excitement, a whirlwind of emotional uproar, and fits just right into the Harry Potter world.