Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne; based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling
Being a late-blooming Harry Potter devotee (I only finally read the HP series a couple of years ago), I was ambivalent about reading The Cursed Child for various reasons. But, like four million other readers, I got the book as soon as it was released. Unlike a lot of those readers who read the entire book in a couple of hours, though (two of my kids among them), it took me a week to get through it. And it wasn’t a very enjoyable week, either.
The plot in a nutshell:
The Cursed Child opens exactly where The Deathly Hallows closed: with Harry and Ginny, and Ron and Hermione at Platform 9 3/4, sending their firstborn off to Hogwarts. Harry and his eldest son, Albus, have a strained relationship. Albus is a sullen teen, tortured by his father’s fame, blah blah blah. Albus becomes besties with Draco’s son, Scorpius while at Hogwarts. They get ahold of a Time Turner and decide to mess with the past. We get lots of flashbacks to scenes in the original (real) Harry Potter books, mainly The Goblet of Fire.
I’ll just be blunt: I hated this book.
First of all, it’s actually a play (as if you didn’t know), not a novel like the previous Harry Potter books. Plays are great! I adore theater. But plays are not fun to read. Reading a play is reading a script – and stage directions. Unlike a novel, there is no narrator – no first person, third person omniscient, or any other type of narrator who allows the reader to get inside the minds and hearts of the characters and become intimate with setting and plot. A play reads rather like a robot.
Furthermore, the plot of this particular story is confusing (it involves a Time Turner, and so there is lots of going back and forth in time, and I found it hard to keep track of when in time any particular scene was).
The storyline is also contrived. It was just … meh. I felt no suspense, no drama (both of which I think I was supposed to feel). The plot just cranked along on this weird track.
The characters! They feel like imposters! I understand that they’re all 19 years older, and people (sort of) change as they grow older, but Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Draco all seem completely reimagined to me. And I didn’t like any of them!
Probably the biggest problem – and the cause for all of its other failings – is that this story was NOT written by J.K. Rowling, and it shows. Oh, I know her name is on it, but what it says on the cover is “BASED ON AN ORIGINAL NEW STORY BY J.K. ROWLING.” It’s no secret that what this story actually is is fan fiction. My understanding is that Rowling wanted to promote British theater, and lent her name to the project mainly for that purpose. Had this story – or any eighth installment to the Harry Potter series – actually been written by J.K. Rowling, it would have undoubtedly looked, read, and felt much different.
I’m all for theater, but I wish this particular story had never been published. And as a HP purist, I cannot accept it as a genuine part of the Harry Potter canon. So Ima just pretend it doesn’t exist, and the story ended with The Deathly Hallows.