Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2016)

By J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

AUTHORS NOTE: As a long-time super-fan of the Harry Potter (HP) books, movies, and indeed the entire world surrounding them, I am very aware that writing about this book before fans have had a chance to read it for themselves is risky. I do not want in any way to spoil the story (which I have gone out of my way below to avoid, so much so that the post seems incomplete) or to in any way dampen the enjoyment of readers who are still waiting to complete it. JUST IN CASE, SKIP THIS POST, SUPER-FANS!

Before I discuss my thoughts on Cursed Child, I would like to make the case for not reading the book at all, even though it was enjoyable to once again be allowed inside the magical world of HP. If you are a patient fan, please consider waiting to see if Rowling releases a novelization of the story, because the lengthy stage notes and production information included in the text of this book greatly interfere with the story, almost to the point of complete distraction. Furthermore, if you are both a theater enthusiast and an HP fan, wait (and save up your money as tickets in the UK are going for thousands of dollars each!) and go see this stage production live! The book contains not only the story, but all of the stage directions as well, which will surely dilute the magical spectacle that the play will no doubt be. AGAIN, YOU CAN STOP READING IF YOU DON’T WANT TO RISK ANY SPOILERS!

 

platform 9 34Harry Potter and the Cursed Child takes place nineteen years after the final chapter of the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; its opening scene parallels exactly the epilogue “Nineteen Years Later” from Deathly Hallows. From here, the play picks up the stories of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny and, now, their children, who are beginning their own years at Hogwarts. From this opening scene on Platform 9 3/4, the story sets off on its wild, winding, path filled with plenty of familiar components to please fans, including familiar characters, locations, spells, and plot lines. Somehow, despite the fact that all of the elements of the HP books are present, nothing quite seems to come together and that breathless wonder of the original books is missing.

 

hogwarts express

Hogwarts Express at Universal Studios, FL.

The story quickly establishes itself as frantic and fragmented, veering wildly from story to story, crisis to crisis, profound to mundane. The end result is a series of stories that struggle to be compelling because they are all competing with one another and with the lengthy and intrusive stage directions. Even though the writers have tried to give us another HP story, Cursed Child feels more like a distant relative to the original books than the next generation. Indeed, I struggled to find much of JK Rowling’s signature voice in the story at all. Rather, it seems that she has lent her stories and imagination to the other authors, who attempted to craft a story in her style. According to a review by Kristina Grosspietsch on Mashable.com, “Whether you loved Harry Potter and the Cursed Child or wanted to stab it with a basilisk fang, it’s obvious right off the bat the tale is not really J.K. Rowling’s.”

All of those criticisms aside, I enjoyed reading the story. However, I did not enjoy reading about the story in the form of a play script; it was distracting and seemed to lessen the excitement of the story to see the “behind the scenes” information, not to mention that the format serves to steal the back-stage magic for fans who will be lucky enough to see the stage production in the future.

The bottom-line is this: for a family of super-fans, it seemed next to impossible not to read this book; we all agreed that it would be unimaginable to pass up a chance of reading about these beloved characters one more time. Despite the things we disliked about Cursed Child, my husband, children, and I decided that we would, as my son put it, “take what we could get,” as we are unlikely to be able to afford tickets to the stage production if it ever makes its way to us.

hogwarts below view

Hogwarts Castle at Universal Studios, FL. All pictures taken by my family on our vacation in January 2016.

Read┬áKristina Grosspietsch’s fhttp://mashable.com/2016/08/17/harry-potter-cursed-child-female-characters/#u44nU9lgQGqz