Published by Little Brown UK on July 31st 2016
Source: My copy
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The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.
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 received 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.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the script for the play that opened in London on 30 July 2016. There has been so much hype surrounding this play and book – everyone was excited to return to the world of Witches and Wizards after so long! The script was written by Jack Thorne, with story input from JK Rowling and John Tiffany.
I’ve seen quite a few reviews from disappointed readers, and even though the Cursed Child has been touted as “the eighth Harry Potter book”, it really is just a script. Reading a script is not the same as reading a book: it’s essentially just the dialogue with a few stage directions, which gives you very little of the emotional impact that might be described in a book format. The actors on the stage are where the emotion and excitement come in, and if you’re able to see that in your mind as you are reading the script, this story really does work. As I was reading it, I constantly wondered what it would be like to see on stage. If I manage to visit England while the play is still running (hah! Not holding my breath), I’ll be trying to see it for sure!
Even though I knew that a grown-up Harry, Ron and Hermione were in this play, I was hoping that they would be secondary characters in a whole new story. The trouble with a play is, of course, that it’s not book-length. Like a film, they need to fit a story into a short time period, so the story has to be shortened and simplified. Even so, the Cursed Child ended up being more of a homage to the original series than a continuation of the story, and the old, familiar characters did still feature heavily, even with their children taking more of a central role.
For those of you that don’t wish to be spoiled before you read it or see the play for yourself (lucky!), I’ll just say that I thought it was worth reading, as long as you are able to fill in the acting in your mind and try not to think too hard about the plot. Script-reading can be a dry experience, but I did enjoy reading this one.
Mild plot spoilers after the break…
We’re all okay with mild spoilers, right? Good.
So, Albus Severus Potter is off to Hogwarts with his big brother James. His Dad, Harry, is there to see him off, but it’s going to be a hard job living up to the Potter name, especially when the sorting hat places Albus in Slytherin House. Albus becomes friends with Scorpius Malfoy who is also suffering from whispers behind his back. When Amos Diggory appears, demanding a rogue time-turner be used to save his beloved son, Cedric, Albus seizes an opportunity to change his circumstances. How could anything possibly go wrong?
At times it was painfully obvious that this play was not actually written by JKR. Others have said that this book feels like fan fiction, and yes, I agree, especially when it comes to Ron. He almost turned into one of his brothers, cracking jokes and basically being a bumbling middle-aged fool, which is not how I would envisage Ron by this stage. The others weren’t as bad though, and it was wonderful to meet the Potter and Weasley children. Harry and Albus’ disconnect was realistic and so heartbreaking.
My favourite thing had to be Albus and Scorpius’ friendship. I really thought they might become a couple for a while there, and was even disappointed that they didn’t, but their friendship was still wonderful.
I gave this book five stars straight up, mainly because I LOVED being back in Harry’s world. On reflection, I’ve downgraded to four stars because of the ridiculous plot (seriously, a love child?) and the general under-developed feeling of the writing. I would still give my left kidney to go and see the play in London, though.
Read this book to get back into Harry Potter’s world and see how they have all grown and changed over the years, but lower your expectations on the plot.