Harry Potter and the Cursed Child ★★★☆☆
I have done it! I have finally finished the latest—and last—story in the Harry Potter saga! It took me some time, but I finally got there. And I’ve got to admit, I’m as conflicted as everyone else who has read it. Is it inspiring, or is it just disappointing? Did this story need to happen, or did it help to do nothing but twist the hopes and dreams of potterheads all over the globe? To put it plainly: is it good or bad?
I can’t tell what your opinion of it will be, but I can give you mine!
WARNING!! SPOILERS AHEAD!!
Remember that short scene at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, where Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione see their children off to Hogwarts in Platform 9¾? That’s the point our story takes us from. During the trip in the Hogwarts Express, Albus gets separated from Rose, Hermione and Ron’s daughter, and becomes friends with Scorpius, Draco Malfoy’s son—and, arguably, the best character in the play. And then, as soon as the children arrive at Hogwarts, Albus Severus Potter’s worst fears becomes true: he gets sorted into Slytherin.
The years drift by, and we see Albus becoming distant and solitary, having no friend but Scorpius. He also has some deep-seated hatred of his father, since everyone keeps expecting him to be as outstanding as Harry Potter was. It is at this point that Harry and Hermione, who are now working for the Ministry of Magic—in fact, Hermione is Minister of Magic!—lay their hands on an illegal Time Turner that can travel several years to the past.
Albus’s dislike of his father deepens when Amos Diggory visits Harry and asks him to use the Time Turner to go to the Triwizard Tournament and save Cedric Diggory from being killed by Voldemort. From that point onward, the play follows the adventures of Albus and Scorpius as they travel back in time, altering the course of history in terrible ways in the process.
There are several things I frowned upon while reading the play. The first of all is the language used: you can clearly tell is so un-Rowling-esque, the most glaring example being a scene in the Ministry that is described as “being Spartacus-like”. That made me cringe a bit.
Then there is the fact that (MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD!!!) the enemy this time is Delphi, Voldemort’s daughter with Bellatrix Lestrange. Now, let that sink. Voldemort, who never got close with anyone at all and thought of himself as above all earthly needs (including death), decided he wanted to get some action while on the Malfoy Manor (when!? When he had punished the Malfoys for Draco not killing Dumbledore, while he was in eastern Europe looking for the elder wand, or when he came back and punished the Malfoys again for letting Harry Potter go? At what point did Voldemort feel that one of these disappointing traitors looked appealing enough to get beneath her sheets!?). I could also see Bellatrix being obsessed enough with Voldemort to want to get things going, but wasn’t she married to Rodolphus Lestrange until the end of the Battle of Hogwarts? The idea of Delphi itself is improbable enough that it takes an extra effort to suspend belief.
But the thing that buggers me the most is the characters they chose to omit. Sure, they can’t hire actors to play everyone, but at the very least they could have let us know what happens to them. They do mention, in passing, that Neville Longbottom has become a Hogwarts professor. Why not do something similar to the rest? The most glaring omissions are Luna Lovegood (seriously? No Luna whatsoever?), George (for all we know, he might have become suicidal after Fred’s death—no one ever mentions him, and it is Ron running the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes shop now), and Hagrid, who only appears in flashbacks. And what about Pansy Parkinson!? Am I the only one who expected her to be Draco’s wife?
And then there are the long-neglected children, James and Lily Potter. They exist, but they might as well not do, since all the action (and all of Harry’s and Ginny’s attention) is focused on Albus. If you end up forgetting that the Potters have three children instead of one, don’t feel bad about it: at the few times they come out on stage and say their one-liners, I almost wondered who these people were supposed to be.
Of course, it’s not all bad. In one of the alternative timelines that Albus and Scorpius create, Voldemort won the Battle of Hogwarts and appointed Dolores Umbridge as headmistress. This dark timeline was an interesting exploration of what was at stake in that battle (although, once again, the language is painful: Draco Malfoy’s office is described as “slightly fascistic”—I could not stop crying at that point). Funnily enough, we see this segment through Scorpius’s eyes, not Albus, since he never got to be born in this timeline. Isn’t it peculiar that the best bit of the play is the one where the main character is missing…?
All in all, I wouldn’t say this is a terrible book. It’s not a book, even—it’s a play, and based on, not written by, J.K. Rowling’s concept. It’s a kind of canonical fan fiction, so to speak. And though I don’t quite like the direction the story took, I kind of enjoyed it—specially the realisation that Slytherins do not need to be evil all the time.
My conclusion is: I would recommend everyone to read this book, if only for completion’s sake. It is a complex work that has aroused many conflicting emotions in different people, so the best way to know if Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is for you is reading it yourself.
And, who knows? Maybe I will do a video review later on!
Have you read it already? Let me know what you think!