Harry Potter and the Cursed Child | J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, & John Tiffany | Fiction, Fantasy Adventure | 2016
Harry Potter, my hero
My journey with Harry Potter began in the late 90’s, around the time The Prisoner of Azkaban was released. The magic, mystery, and underdog-turned-hero story drew me in, and after the first few chapters of The Philosopher’s Stone I was hooked. As the series progressed over years, I continued adventuring alongside Harry Potter and co., reading and re-reading all seven instalments of the original story and the two spin-offs, watching all the films, and collecting the odd assortment of HP merchandise.
When first I heard that a Harry Potter sequel was to be released about a year or two ago, I admit I was a bit sad. I was happy with the way the series had ended, and selfishly didn’t want to ruin a good memory. Furthermore, the characters that I cherished and loved had suffered enough throughout their journeys, and I was more than content to leave their ‘happily-ever-afters’ undefined. However, as a HP fan for life, I knew that I’d eventually succumb to curiosity and give HP & the CC a chance. I began the book with what I hoped was an open mind.
Quick summary (contains spoilers)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child follows Albus (Ginny & Harry Potter’s son) and Scorpio (Astoria & Draco Malfoy’s son) as they try to ‘right’ the past by going back in time and altering the original course of events–specifically, Cedric Diggory’s death. This (of course) is all cleverly orchestrated by Voldemort’s long lost daughter, Delphi, who manipulates the two whilst preying on the disintegrating relationship between Harry and Albus.
Harry, who didn’t have an ideal parental model whilst growing up, struggles with how he interacts with Albus, who is very much the black sheep of the family. Harry, Ron, and Hermione team up once again to thwart evil-doers, and ensure their children, and the world they worked so hard to protect, remains safe.
Thoughts (contains spoilers)
I was surprised at how easy it was to get into the book, not just because of the format, which segmented and linearised conversations and events more than usual, but at how quickly the story picked up from the epilogue in The Deathly Hallows. I found myself greedily absorbing all the new information about my long lost friends, their offspring, and what had transpired for them over the past 20 years or so.
Although I’m quite the scrupulous reader, I found myself flying through lines and pages like lightening, the writing set-up offering too much a temptation to skim. The text was basic and clear, and I ended up completing the book in a day.
Ultimately, I finished Harry Potter & the Cursed Child with mixed feelings. I’m glad I read the story; I liked it, but there were a lot of plot points I had issues with (further below). The theme was very much focussed on character relationships, predominantly, the one between Harry and Albus.
At first it was a bit strange that ‘the boy who lived’, conqueror of Lord Voldemort, ends up struggling with communication and managing relationships (as we all do from time to time), but I suppose this is just a new, different sort of challenge for him. For me, it was heart-breaking to read about Harry and Albus’s deteriorating relationship (knowing all that Harry’s been through), but I suppose it makes sense with Harry’s less than ideal childhood.
Whilst reading, it was a little difficult to see Harry as a 40-something year old, when it seems just yesterday he was a teenager. In the blink of an eye, Harry’s climbed the corporate latter, married Ginny, and produced three children. His personality changed as well; the young, funny, and bold persona seems to have faded, and the air of magic around him seems… not so magical.
However, to the end, I had fun reading HP & the CC, and enjoyed the humorous dialogue, catching up with beloved characters, and following the adventures of Albus and Scorpio (I love that Harry’s and Draco’s kids are best friends, and I love it even more that they’re both in Slytherin). Thank goodness for ‘another’ happy ending!
Questionable plot points (contains spoilers)
1. Scorpio as Voldemort’s son
The idea that people would believe Scorpio to be Voldemort’s son is a bit preposterous. First of all, Scorpio is depicted as the spitting image of Draco. Second, Voldemort answered to no one. Why would he agree to sire a child for someone else, especially for the sole purpose of carrying on the Malfoy bloodline?
2. Amos Diggory’s confrontation
In the beginning of the book, Amos Diggory gets wind of the supposed existence of a time turner, and shows up at Harry’s house, blaming Harry for Cedric’s death, and asking him to use the time turner to go back and save Cedric.
What I find strange is that no one raised an eyebrow at Amos’ actions. As a seasoned adult in the wizarding world, Amos should understand the dangers of playing with time. In addition, I understand that some wounds never heal, but the specificity of Amos’s request is a bit odd and probably should have raised a flag.
3. Hermione and Ron’s relationship
When Albus and Scorpio start playing with time, each parallel future alters the romantic status of Ron and Hermione. In the first iteration, however, we see that Ron and Hermione are not together because…wait for it…Ron didn’t get jealous of Viktor Krum. Apparently, Ron’s jealousy plays a pivotal point in their union during the Yule Ball, and when Hermione encountered Albus and Scorpio in the past, she became suspicious of Durmstrang and did not go to the Yule Ball with Viktor.
Are we really to believe that Ron and Hermione’s relationship rests on the fact that Ron gets jealous? All that romantic tension over the years in the books means nothing? Furthermore, why would Hermione be a teacher at Hogwarts instead of Minister of Magic?! Huge plot disappointment.
4. Albus gives up on Scorpio
As misfits, Albus and Scorpio develop a strong friendship during their first trip to Hogwarts, and this only grows as the years progress. However, when the two first alter the course of time, Harry bans Albus from being friends with Scorpio, and Albus just…takes it. It’s a little bizarre that a four year friendship between two people who had no other friends ceases, simply because one of their dads ‘says so’. Combined with the sudden suppression of Albus’s usual rebellious nature and Harry’s out-of-character treatment towards Professor McGonagall, the whole scene feels off.
5. Cedric’s embarrassment
Albus and Scorpio come up with this brilliant *eye roll* plan to go back in time to embarrass Cedric and prevent him from winning. However, the Triwizard Tournament had some incredibly strong witches and wizards in attendance. Does it really make sense that a couple of fourth years could interfere in a magical, multinational competition and not get caught?
To add, if Cedric was indeed to be ridiculed, would he really join the death eaters? Would he really kill Neville?! He’s a Hufflepuff for goodness sake! In reality, the sabotage by the boys probably would have been caught, and if Cedric did happen to start to steer towards the dark side, I’m sure Dumbledore would have kept an eye on the situation, as he did for Malfoy.
6. Bellatrix and Voldemort
Aside from finding it super gross that Bellatrix and Voldemort had sex, it’s really hard to imagine Voldemort engaging in any kind of physical relationship at all. Voldemort was supposed to be obsessed with his conquest for power and ensuring everyone was beneath him. It’s too out of character for him to be hooking up with Bellatrix when his top priority was world domination.
7. Time travel clichés
Finally, the whole ‘going back in time’ theme is a bit cliché, and everyone knows it. Of course things will go wrong.
Is it for you?
If you’re a true Harry Potter fan and haven’t read this book, just bite the bullet and do so. The nostalgia of the series and your favourite characters will bring you back, and it’s a fun, entertaining journey. If you haven’t read any of the Harry Potter books or simply did not finish them, you’re probably okay waiting to see the play, as the story was created for that medium of storytelling, and will most likely be more enjoyable for you.