Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Posted August 18, 2016 / Book Reviews / 8 Comments

Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildHarry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
Series: Harry Potter #8
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Scholastic on July 31st 2016
Also by this author: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Format: Hardcover (328 pages) • Source: Purchased
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four-stars

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 will receive 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.

I feel the need to start this review with some general observations about the play/script itself and how people have reacted to its release. I absolutely understand the mixed feelings and reviews on this one, as well as the reasons some people won’t be reading it at all. There are some things I want to cover because I too had some mixed feelings about this that I literally had JUST spoken about. My thoughts changed at the midnight release, when I started reading, and while I was reading.

Let’s get some shit out of the way

If you asked me 10 years ago how I would feel knowing an “eighth Harry Potter book” would come out at some point, I would have shit my pants. (No pun intended with the title of this section.) As a kid/young adult, there was LITERALLY nothing I could have wanted more from the world of fiction. When I was older and especially within the last two years, that excitement kind of dwindled. I think we all can genuinely agree that a Marauders prequel would be unreal and amazing. Most people – even those against Cursed Child – seem to agree with this. I was definitely cool with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them because the world expanded to other people and wouldn’t “ruin” the magic of the original series. How could it? Harry’s not even there. But, for some reason, Cursed Child has gotten mixed feelings and negative pre-release commentary from bloggers. Clearly everyone has a right to their opinion and again I was kind of in the same boat a few weeks ago. I’m not going to sit here and try to change anyone’s mind. Going to the midnight release with my sister and seeing it through her eyes was amazing. It almost completely changed my attitude towards the release. It had always been a no-brainer that I’d read this book (I’m going to call it a book sometimes because it’s bound like a book and whatever), even if I had mixed feelings. Seeing her excitement about the release, playing games, doing HP activities, and getting SUPER excited for midnight was a great feeling. It brought some of the magic back. Once I started reading and seeing the characters together again – no matter how old they were or how different the vibe was – I was happy.

The day or two before it was released were hard because it seems like negativity was ALL I saw on my timeline. Again, I promise, that’s okay, because people are allowed to feel that way. It just sucked some of my excitement away at the time and I’m so glad I was able to pull out of that at the midnight release party. I was able to be happy again and feel like that kid who always wanted Harry Potter #8. However, there are still some things to keep in mind / that I want to discuss about this…

Yeah, it’s a script and a bit hard to read at first.

The biggest difference is the format. It doesn’t read like a Harry Potter book because it’s not a Harry Potter BOOK. It’s a screenplay that’s meant to be seen instead of read, honestly. I had to keep reminding myself that it’s okay that this book feels different. It isn’t meant to be read but – lucky for those of us who can’t be in London for the show – we have the ability to read it still and catch up with our favorite characters. I was happy to be reading it and feeling the FEELS about my people. So sure, it wasn’t exactly the same, but it was still good for me.

Yeah, it wasn’t directly written by JKR and feels like fan fiction.

In a perfect world, JK Rowling would have written this as a legitimate eighth book and we would be with her writing again. (And also in that perfect world we’d get the Marauders prequel…) This book was written by other people but it is based on a story by JK Rowling. To me, it’s still able to be considered canon. In a lot of ways, it felt like fan fiction. Someone else writing about our heroes did feel weird at first and I’ll be the first to admit it doesn’t have the same charm as JKR’s writing and the other books. I kept pushing this aside in my head because there was no use in me getting upset that it was different.

I kind of just put it in my head that this was different. It’s still canon – in my opinion – because JKR directly approved of it (obviously) and had a lot to do with the story itself. While it is generally considered Harry Potter #8, as you can see in my book summary and everything, I didn’t really view it that way. It’s not really the same story, but it is the same characters. Not sure if that even makes sense, but I really wanted to get all of these feelings out of the way before actually reviewing this screenplay.

Some great (albeit sometimes harsh, please keep in mind) points are made in this articleIt definitely made me laugh a little bit and nod my head. Again, harsher than I PERSONALLY would go with because I’m not *that* set in my opinions here, but just maybe worth the read.

Now onto the script itself

I was hit with the feels kind of right off the bat. I loved seeing these characters again in ANY format. The magic and the dialogue wasn’t exactly the same for me, but it was so happy-making anyways. I’m going to break this down a little bit too. * GENERAL SPOILERS MAY APPEAR BELOW. *

Characters

Out of all the characters for this story, Scorpious was my favorite. So cute and loyal. Albus was okay, but I definitely see why most people seemed to be annoyed by him. I understood where he was coming from because it’s really like being the son of a celebrity… a celebrity that just so happened to save the world. But whatever.

I loved the integration of the older characters into this as well. The scenes involving the original crew plus their spouses were really fun. I think the biggest issue is that their personalities didn’t translate as well in this work. I’m not sure if it was format-related or the writing itself, but it didn’t FEEL like them as much as I’d hoped. There were some scenes that made me really nostalgic and happy, but some that were a little off. I loved seeing Snape again in a different way; that entire scene was really interesting. I was trying to picture it on the stage the whole time!

Plot

I’m a huge fan of time-related stories, so the entire plot of this was right up my alley. I have no idea if the magic or science behind it checks out, but I enjoyed it a lot. The time-turners were a really fun element in the earlier books! It was SO great to have recalls to the past in this too. Because they were going back in time, we were able to essentially reread scenes from the Triwizard Tournament again. It was like we were back along with them. The ending was really interesting, albeit confusing at times.

Feels

Definitely some feels. There were some scenes with old characters that brought me right back. Like I said, the format change made it feel a little different… but it was still wonderful to be reunited with everyone. The ending of the seventh book felt wrapped up enough, but this story allowed for the world to continue just a little longer. I’m actually happy that this was in screenplay form because I could separate the original series from it a little bit… while still feeling like I’m home.

TL;DR: am I glad it exists?

Yeah. I am. I really think that obviously I could have lived my life without this addition to the story, but I’m happy I don’t have to. It was so fun to be back in the world – even though it was a different way than I’d hoped as a kid. I’m really glad that I read it and enjoyed it. The entire plot and the new characters were a lot of fun to read about.

Cursed Child did nothing to ruin my love for Harry Potter and the original series.

8 responses to “Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

  1. JKR DID say that we should consider this canon so even though it’s not her actual writing, it is her idea and she directly stated it. I don’t know what that says for everyone who’s trying to deny this book exists but… there it is, friends.
    I had a LOT of mixed reviews. I 100% agree with you that the personalities did not translate well at ALL. I chalked that up in part to the book actually being a play that we get to read. So much is missing because you SEE it from the actors and they bring the personality to the stage. This is why no matter how much I wanted to read Cursed Child, I didn’t want to read a script because I knew it would be missing a lot and I totally felt it. It’s NOT a book (though I call it a book for ease) but I was trying to read it like one and it was hard.
    I also TOTALLY agree that I saw a lot of negativity before I read it (how even the play was bad – I think those people were more talking about plot?) and so naturally I had all kinds of worries. I tried to be excited for it (and I was) but once I see that negativity, it really does affect whatever I’m reading and I have those opinions in my mind.
    I enjoyed the experience but I didn’t really care for the story or the way the characters were handled. Characters I can push aside but I was sad that I didn’t like the story because although JKR wasn’t like the main author, it was still technically her project at least in part and she approved it all so that was a bummer.
    I say let’s leave these generations alone and go somewhere else. Marauders are okay because we know so little about them so it’s like a clean slate. Founders, Ilvermorny, Durmstrang, more history, teachers — literally anything I would love. Except Harry. Leave Harry alone! Haha

    • LOL exactly. Her name is on the book and she approved of all of it, so clearly it actually happens. Nothing anyone can do to change that.
      I agree on the play and the personalities – I was trying to picture the actors from the movies saying those lines and sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. I would love to see how it all actually works during the play itself! Definitely meant to be seen not read.
      The negativity was rampant through Twitter and Goodreads, so that was not fun. I understand why people felt/feel that way and they have a right too, but it was hard to NOT let their feelings invade my brain.
      I’m surprised she went along with some of the plot. It makes me wonder if I really understand how the magic system works? Or if she forgot after all these years? LOL
      I definitely enjoyed the experience too. The story itself was a bit weird and off-kilter but I do like time-related stories. I totally agree – neeeeed to move on from these characters. No more things set in the future with Harry and his kids. GIVE US THE PREQUELS!!!

  2. I honestly agree that I could have lived without reading this story. But I also just wound up loving it for what it was! I think I was well-prepared going into it to expect that a) it would definitely be different in format and b) it would also not be a purely JK Rowling story. That definitely helped shaped my more positive reaction to this! I just got lots of feels, both nostalgia about these characters I love and this world I love so much AND all the feels of the actual story plot itself 😉

    Also, just for the record, I freaking LOVE Scorpius <3

  3. I didn’t read your actual thoughts on the book because spoilers, but I love how excited you were even with all those opinions on Twitter (I presume? haha). Honestly I was never really a *huge* Harry Potter fan, I mainly just read all the books in one go (I mean I had the enthusiasm, but I didn’t know there were such things as midnight releases and waiting in line and all that fun stuff as a child). So my excitement has also dwindled over the years, which is why I’m not sure if I’ll read this yet. If I do, I’ll probably do it after a reread of all the books!

    I’m glad you loved this Lauren!! I’ll have to keep in mind to read this as if it weren’t an 8th book!

    • Haha yes, Twitter and Goodreads! Sad/negative opinions everywhere 🙁

      I hope you enjoy it! Try to keep it somewhat separate in your mind. Not being a huge Potterhead will definitely help too. I think a lot of people who LOVE Harry Potter had issues because it wasn’t exactly the same.

  4. Great review! I have to say, I think I have a little more negativity towards the overall story and plot than you did, but I did enjoy the excitement of being reunited with a world I love so much. I do wish Rowling would do a Cassie Clare though and write about other characters within the same world but leave the Golden Trio, Harry’s scar, and he-who-should-not-be-named out of it. R xx

  5. I’m glad you liked this one for the most part! It’s sad that there are mixed and negative reviews out there (which is totally understandable!), but I’m definitely excited to read this one. I love books in play format, and this one is bound to bring some of the original magic back. Great review!

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