Full disclosure: I am not a diehard Harry Potter fan. I’ve read through the series only once, I’ve never even seen the Pottermore site, and I would most likely fail any Harry Potter trivia quiz. That being said, out of pure nostalgia for something that I thoroughly enjoyed as a kid, I preordered Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, J.K. Rowling’s brand new story adapted into a stage play by Jack Thorne. It picks up in the epilogue of Deathly Hallows, when the gang are dropping off their children at the Hogwarts Express nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts. It is the first year for Harry and Ginny’s younger son Albus Severus, who is shocked to find himself sorted into Slytherin House. He befriends the son of Draco Malfoy, Scorpius, and tension develops between him and his father. Albus feels burdened by his father’s legacy, and he and Harry (now an employee of the Ministry of Magic) must come to terms with their differences and face a past that continues to haunt their world.
First and foremost, Cursed Child is a play, not a novel, so it is massively different in style at the get-go, which makes for a fresh approach to this already-developed universe. I found it immensely fun trying to imagine the execution of the stage directions describing the use of magic. Honestly, the most significant thing I might have gotten out of the book was a massive curiosity and interest in how the special effects are being done for the play currently being performed in London (which I’ve heard has gotten great reviews).
And now, to delve into the actual content. I heard a lot of disappointed reactions out there before I even started my own reading of the play. The thing is, it is inevitable that problems will arise with sequels that weren’t part of the initial plan and come out a significant amount of time after the original material (heavy-handed references, inconsistencies, and and fanfic-esque elements to name a few), and Cursed Child is no exception. Firstly, why create a sequel for something that already had a seemingly definitive conclusion? Why is Harry Potter, along with his friends and family, facing another conflict even though Deathly Hallows ended with “happily ever after”? For cynics like me, one answer and one answer only comes to mind: money. And cynics like me find that this often means the same amount of care that was put into creating the original is not put into creating the sequel. I found the dialogue to be unsophisticated and clunky, and the plot to be predictable and cheesy. That being said, I didn’t find the experience at all unenjoyable. Sure, there were moments that made me roll my eyes, but there were also moments that I found delightful. I was very interested to meet this new generation of characters, see how the first generation has grown into middle age, and get to know what the events of the original series look like through the lense of history. Of course, I probably missed certain details and nuances that a more devoted fan would have picked up on, so I don’t claim to see — let alone understand — all the possible flaws and/or triumphs.
In the end, Cursed Child didn’t change how I feel about the Harry Potter universe at all, but all in all I did enjoy the experience of reading it. I went into this with no real hopes or expectations, and I think that was the absolute right way to go. I don’t see this as a part of the original canon, and I don’t think it should be treated as such. Say whatever you want about Cursed Child, but just be glad about getting another glimpse into Rowling’s magical world. Although I felt no true investment in this story from the very beginning, I’m very much glad I read it. If you haven’t already read it too, you probably should, if only to see what all the ruckus is about.
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Author: Patricia Thang
Reader of books, listener of podcasts, lover of dogs. Just trying to survive my twenties.