Warning: This post contains tons of SPOILERS and a lot of Harry Potter nerdiness. I embrace it.
Recently Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was unleashed to the whole world in book format. I bought my copy the day it came out and finished it in two days. The world seems to have very mixed reactions on it. I personally enjoyed it overall, but there were some things that bugged me.
And no, there’s nothing in here complaining about the format. I get that it’s a play meant to be seen in person, in a theater, etc. I’m not that crazy.
Let’s start with the positive—overall, I enjoyed the reading experience of the book and I don’t think it’s a total waste of ink like some other books.
All of part 1 is really fun. I love that the action lies with Albus and Scorpius and the adults were on the periphery. I felt the same as I did when I read the other adventures Ron, Harry, and Hermione embarked upon as students at Hogwarts. I also felt it was paced appropriately and I liked getting a dual perspective, something we didn’t get in the novels as much (usually there was one chapter focusing on the impending evil and then it would go into the Harry story, told through his lens).
He’s obviously the best character—both in heart and in the way he is written. I loved him so much. His awkward fumbling with Rose and banter with Albus were so heartwarming.
The “Alternate Endings”
It felt almost indulgent to read alternatives to the ending we got in “Deathly Hallows.” The Ron/Hermione shipper inside of me rejoiced that even in alternate strands of time, they still love each other. It was almost scary to read about a world where Harry Potter died and Voldemort ruled all. I love a good ‘What If?’ and these were safe. While raising the stakes, the alt-versions of the Wizarding World were fascinating.
Tidbits of (I guess what is now) New Cannon
Hermione as Minister of Magic? Yes please, thank you. Albus being in Slytherin? I like it and it’s a great way to have conflict. The rumors about Scorpius? Totally plausible. Ron and Neville drink together at Hogsmead? Darn right, they do! Dumbledore’s portrait? Yes, it would talk to Harry, obviously. And that thing about the trolley witch being essentially the guardian of the Hogwarts Express? Gold.
So it’s never really explained who the Cursed Child is, and I love that kind of ambiguity. Is it Albus? It’s the most obvious answer since he’s the center of story and the only human featured on the cover. But the title could be applied to Scorpius, Harry, and Delphi and the connotations of all of them being the cursed child are pretty deep.
This was the stuff I didn’t love. Sigh.
Those pesky Time-Turners felt overdone
Look, on a thematic level, I get the whole use of the time turner and how it plays into the characters, especially Harry, who wrestles with the fact that time has passed and he’s a parent and he doesn’t really know HOW to parent. I usually love time travel stories. But, I personally felt like the book relied too much on the previous seven novels. Time turners? Seen ‘em. Triwizard Tournament? Been there, done that. What I loved about the seventh book was the introduction to a wizard mythology. I wanted something new.
Too much of the adults, more of the kids, please
I guess on the night of the release JK Rowling said that this was the end of Harry’s story. I’m supportive of that. I look forward to exploring the world more in Fantastic Beasts and in the Marauder’s prequel my fangirl heart prays for. And I get that the book is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. But see, I didn’t want it to be Harry’s story. I didn’t need it to be. I had Harry for seven novels (and those last ones are doorstops!) and I was really, really happy. I can’t explain how much I love those books.
Now, nine years after Deathly Hallows, I wanted more of a focus on the kids. I wanted to see Albus and Scorpius at Hogwarts (I did think this part was well-paced for the outcome the writer wanted), I wanted to see more of Rose and Lily and James and even just SEE Hugo. I’m interested in the next generation, more so than I am about meetings at the Ministry of Magic.
Voldemort had a kid (?!)
On paper, this sounds terribly interesting. I always wondered what would happen if he had offspring. It also made sense that Delphi was a product of Bellatrix and the Person Formally Known As Tom Riddle. There was some weird, creepy tension there. This is all good fuel for a backstory. It just seemed like she appeared out of nowhere and was fan servicing those weird HP fans that like the Death Eaters and the Dark Arts. It also is a weird mashup of the timeline. She said she was born before the Battle of Hogwarts, but never in the last two books do we get any hint that Bellatrix was preggers, and before that she was in Azkaban and unless they allow conjugal visits, it has to happen around the time of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. We see Bellatrix at the beginning with her sister and Snape, but there’s no mention of a baby on board or anything related to her being “sent to an aunt’s house for nine months.” When would this have happened? Why would it go unmentioned? Wouldn’t Voldemort be proud to have an heir? I need to think on this one.
C’mon! I wanted at least a name drop of her. If you’re going to fan service, at least tell me where here and Rolf Scamander are!
This is the stuff I’ll skip over when I re-read it.
That conversation between Harry and Dumbledore’s Portrait
Look, I get it, Harry needs to have this heart to heart with his old mentor, and I love Dumbledore (I squealed out loud when he was mentioned in the Fantastic Beasts trailer), but this just felt like an awkward conversation. I think it comes from reading a play and how you can’t interject emotion the same way as you could a narrative.
I feel like she’s often given the shaft by HP fans and she serves a purpose here, but she’s got an uninteresting arc and the writer is trying too hard to make her spunky.
We saw that awful night at Godric’s Hallow and it just felt wrong
Going back to that pivotal night and not being in JKR’s hands felt sacrilegious.
The night before the release of the book, my boyfriend and I were talking about how we felt about this eighth story that wasn’t written by the woman who crafted a world we both loved as children. We came to a similar conclusion: we were excited to read this new release and see the world we loved so much again, but it wasn’t going to take away from the original seven books.
Maybe that’s why it was written by a different person. When I go back and read Deathly Hallows again (something I try to do every year), I don’t know if I’ll have Cursed Child lurking in the back of my mind. It has Jo’s stamp of approval, but it’s not from her. Our reading experience won’t be tainted, but it can be enhanced. Only good can come from this. It’s almost a safe way that’s been carefully crafted by the brain trust of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
And you what, I’m okay with that.
So now, let’s focus on the Wizarding World and Jo’s future writing. I love the Cormoran Strike novels. I’m excited to see what the Wizarding World in America is like in November. Like I previously mentioned, I want a Marauder’s series in any format and I also secretly hope Jo pulls out a trilogy of books that take place in Harry’s world, but from a female perspective. However you feel about this eight story, and personally I’m glad there are more stories, there’s more to look forward to.