Title and Authors: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne
Publication Date: August 2016
How I got it: Bought it used at the used bookstore I work at the day after publication!
As pretty much everyone who knows me knows, I’m a big Harry Potter fan.
I started reading HP as an adult. A college roommate had a small collection of books in the dorm room we shared, and since I’m such an avid reader, I read her entire library over the course of the summer. And among her library was Harry Potter, up to Goblet of Fire. After that, I bought every HP book the day it was published and read them by the following day.
Many people have written reviews for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I don’t know that I’ll add anything to the conversation that hasn’t already been said, but here it goes anyway. I’m not summarizing the play, because I assume everyone at this point knows the basic premise. Instead, I’m going to comment on the things I enjoyed and didn’t enjoy. Therefore—this review contains many spoilers! Beware!
I’ll start with the good parts.
I was immediately sucked back into the HP universe.
The trolley witch is awesome.
Yay for humanizing Slytherin! (Except, Scorpius isn’t particularly ambitious, is he?)
Scorpius is definitely my favorite character. He’s humane and interesting, and I’d read more about him. In fact, I kind of wish this play centered on him instead of Albus.
The special affects must be amazing in the theater.
Now for the bad. Here are the major spoilers, so don’t read beyond this point if you haven’t read the book yet!
Honestly, there’s a lot that didn’t work for me. I know it’s a play, so there’s less time to develop plot and character, but there’s a lot of handy-wavy stuff going on here, and the women characters lack serious development.
Let’s start with the hand-wavy stuff. For instance, that trolley witch. The play makes her out to be a real badass, but then Albus and Scorpius immediately escape her. Why spend the time making her out to be so awesome? She just stands there while the boys escape.
And then there’s the time-turner. The entire plot depends on minor changes completely ruining people. I don’t believe for a second Cedric would turn into a death eater because of a single embarrassing moment. Or that Hermione would turn into a cruel teacher for similarly ridiculous reasons. More things would need to happen.
And speaking of Hermione, she would never be so dumb as to hide the time-turner in such an easily accessible way. This is just poor character development. I know, it’s a play, but I can think of other plays with large casts that still manage to make every character real and the plot complex.
Which brings me to the women characters. Rose is a huge problem. First, she’s presented as great friends with Albus, but then she immediately turns into a bully. In fact, in Sorcerer and the Stone, Hermione starts as a bully too. Why are the girl characters bullies? And Rose is so cowardly—she refuses to sit with Scorpius, yet she still manages to get into Gryffindor. And somehow, Scorpius loves her? Why? She has so little character development. She’s a caricature.
And once again, Ginny is relegated to the background. She’s the mother. Her relationship to her son doesn’t seem to matter at all.
There’s more issues with Hermione, too. She’s still doing Harry’s work for him, and there’s this really awkward scene where her nephew Albus uses polyjuice potion to disguise himself as Ron, and then kisses her a whole bunch to distract her. Maybe in a book this would’ve been funny, where Albus’s thoughts could’ve been presented, but it’s creepy in the play.
Yet, I still give it 3 stars, though the more I think about it, the less good it seems. It only took about 3 hours to read, and I enjoyed being back in the HP universe, so I guess that’s swaying my judgement here. But I expected better.