Thursday, August 4, 2016

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling

A long time ago, in a Colorado town not so far away, I was eagerly awaiting the last installment in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. At the time, I was working at Borders and was excited for the end of our midnight release party so I could take home a copy, bury my nose in it, and not come up for air until the story was over. It took me two days. At the end, there was an epilogue that took place nineteen years after the Deathly Hallows ended, and I thought, “Well, there’s the end. No more Harry. I’m glad he lived happily ever after!” (Seriously, if you’re thinking “spoiler alert Emily!” for heaven’s sake...it’s been nine years.)

Then, almost ten years later, J.K Rowling announces that she is writing the eighth story. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. And I almost cried with despair. Why? Because the story was going to be a play, and the play was only going to be performed in England. Then, a few months later, they announced the script was going to be published for the masses. And I cried with relief.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child takes place immediately after the Deathly Hallows finishes. So immediately in fact, that the first two scenes of the play are almost directly ripped from the end of the eighth movie. The story is multilayered and takes place over about five years. One layer of the story follows Harry’s son, Albus, as he attends Hogwarts, while the second layer follows Harry himself, who is desperately trying to have a relationship with a son who has come to resent his father’s celebrity status. The minute Albus sets foot on the Hogwarts Express, he befriends Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius, and the two begin their own adventure. The Cursed Child is a story of time travel and regret, set in a familiar and well-loved world.

Reading the Cursed Child threw me back into J.K. Rowling’s world with barely enough time to take a breath. The reader is transported directly onto Platform 9 ¾ in Scene One and then taken to new locations in the wizarding world, as well as familiar places such as the Ministry of Magic, Hogwarts, and Godric’s Hollow. All of the familiar faces are in the story: Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Ginny, and there are even (because this is a story of time travel) a few faces that many fans have had to mourn for over the years. I appreciated the story setup and how Rowling easily wove this new generation of Albus and Scorpius into her world. True fans of Harry Potter will find story elements from the Prisoner of Azkaban, the Goblet of Fire, and the Deathly Hallows sprinkled throughout the play which is why reading it is a lot like going home.

The drawbacks? First, for someone like myself who does not read plays on a regular basis, the formatting took some getting used to. I had to remind myself to actually read who was saying what and had to slow down my own reading pace so I wouldn’t mix up the dialogue between characters. The second drawback was because this book is actually the play’s script, there is very little description of the settings. I loved Rowling’s setting descriptions and explanations in the other books, and I missed them during the narrative. Finally, while many characters are included in the play, at times I felt they were only there because someone would have complained if they didn’t make an appearance. For example, Lily, Harry’s youngest child, appears a few times in the beginning but then completely disappears for the rest of play. Voldemort also appears in the play (remember, time travel story!) but even his involvement seemed a little far fetched to me.

J.K. Rowling was asked if the play was going to begin a new phase of stories, and she said, “I'm thrilled to see [the play] realized so beautifully but, no, Harry is done now."* As a die hard Harry Potter fan, I’m satisfied with this final ending. Bye Harry. Thanks for the adventure!


It wasn’t a surprise to most people when they found out that Emily had finished this book in one sitting. She’s definitely looking forward to the next J.K. Rowling installment when the “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” comes out in theaters on November 18th!

2 comments:

  1. I've yet to read the Harry Potter books and haven't seen the movies. It isn't because I have an aversion to the stories; they came out during the years that I fell away from reading. Someday I'll catch up to modern times.

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  2. I got my Harry Potter and the Cursed Child book today.
    I brought it on Amazon and I got it in just 2 days!
    Here is the link:
    Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2

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