Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, Parts 1&2 by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany
Published by: Arthur A. Levine Books (July 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’ve jumped into this discussion pretty late, but if by some miracle you’re later than I am and haven’t read the latest instalment in the Harry Potter series, then here are some things you should know before you start CC:
- It is not ‘the 8th book,’ even though it is marketed as such. Forget everything you think you knew about the characters in the previous books. The focus has shifted from the golden trio.
- It is a PLAY. A. PLAY. That means the entire book is essentially dialogue interspersed with brief stage directions. It’s a completely different literary form and you cannot go into it expecting the lengthy prose that you got from the previous books (I mean, you absolutely can but you’ll probably be sorely disappointed!)
So here’s the thing – I started CC with the knowledge that the majority of my friends and a large part of the online book community hated it. Some with a rather violent passion. In fact, the nicest thing I’d heard about it was that it was ‘kind of like reading HP fanfiction.’ I ended up surprising myself and falling quite in love with it. As I explained to one of my friends, it was just a very ‘Ngoc’ book – it was fully of witty dialogue and good humour, beautiful and moving monologues, fast paced action and there was even what I’ve coined the ‘Marvel squad fight scene’ (because really, no Marvel movie is complete without a #squadgoals fight scene, am I right?) And I just really, really loved Scorpius Malfoy.
If you haven’t read the Cursed Child yet, I’d advise you to PASS NO FURTHER THAN THIS PAGE BREAK. Because McGonagall said so.
After discussing it with some of my close friends, I think there are 4 main grievances people have with the book:
- The time travelling
- The Delphi-Voldemort plot
- The original characters not being ‘in-character’
- The Scorbus ship that never sailed
The funny thing is, I normally hate time travelling in books – the logical, sciency part of my brain just can’t wrap my mind around the concept. However, this is J.K.Rowling we’re talking about here and if there are 2 authors who can get me to suspend my disbelief in just about everything, it’d be J.K.Rowling and Cassandra Clare. That, AND the fact that the ‘ripple effect’ makes sense to me – you alter one minuscule detail in the past and you forever rewrite the future. What if I’d taken the bus this morning to work instead of my car? I could’ve been run over by someone (extremely morbid) or slipped in a puddle and fallen into the arms of my one true love (also unlikely.) For me, the time travelling was a powerful message not to be stuck in your past – everything that has happened before this moment is now out of your hands. Visiting mistakes and actions that you can’t change – as Albus and Scorpius realised the hard way – is an exhausting and pointless task unless you’re being productive and actually learning from it.
As for Bellatrix secretly giving birth to Voldemort’s child in the hopes that she’d fulfil a previously unheard of prophecy and resurrect the Dark Lord using an illegal time turner – well, when I put it that way, it does seem rather implausible, doesn’t it? Honestly, it didn’t really bother me that much. I accepted that it was too difficult to go into the logistics of how this could work – it is a play after all, and having the who/where/what/why/HOW explained would slow everything down too much. I’ve also been conditioned by Cassandra Clare to expect the unexpected and believe that anything is possible, so…
Another gripe that people seem to have with CC is that ‘Harry isn’t Harry, Snape isn’t Snape etc etc.’ OF COURSE THEY AREN’T. This is set nineteen years after the original story. Do you know how much I’ve changed in just one year? These characters have had almost two decades to grow up away from our prying eyes. And yeah, Harry is a pretty awful Dad at times but given that he grew up without a stable father figure in his life (they mostly died early and let’s not even talk about what Dumbledore put Harry through,) I think he was trying the best that he could and to me, that is most certainly a Harry Potter trademark. As for characters like Snape – they only existed in alternate realities and who knows what they went through in these realities that could have moulded them and shaped them into different people?
The one thing that disappointed me most about CC was the missed-opportunity Scorbus ship. There were SO MANY HINTS throughout the play that there was more than just friendship between the 2 boys and J.K. Rowling had a beautiful opportunity to branch out with a diverse relationship. I could honestly read an entire book just about Scorpius and Albus – their interactions were some of my favourite parts of the story. But alas, J.K. Rowling went for the easy route and gave birth to Rosius as a peace offering to die-hard Dramione fans.
I’m really interested to hear what you all thought of Harry Potter & The Cursed Child – was it a hit or miss for you? Was there anything that you absolutely hated or loved?