Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (no spoilers)
Y’all know what a Harry Potter fan I am. This weekend was momentous in that the next “book” in the series was released at midnight on Saturday night, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Mine arrived before 1 a.m. not by owl, but really the next best thing… Amazon Prime NOW. When I woke up Sunday morning, it was waiting for me on my doorstep.
No surprise, I grabbed a coffee and dove right in, reading it cover to cover.
It was like a warm embrace to fall back into the magical world of Harry Potter with this fresh story, like revisiting an old friend that you’ve missed desperately. It fed my need for another adventure and a reunion with the characters I love, but sadly, I did feel a bit disenchanted.
First off, this is not a book in the sense of being a novel. If you’re expecting that, forget it. Yes, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a book in form, but within it’s pages, the story is formatted as the “special rehearsal edition script” of the West End play that debuted on the same day in England as the book release. What this means is that it’s truly a script. So straight away, we’re lacking the artful description that we all have come to love from JK Rowling. It’s distracting in that you have to set yourself to read who is saying which lines and if you tumble into it too fast, you will have to reread lines to confirm they belonged to who you thought they should.
Nextly, this was a collaborative effort between JK Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne so I will attribute a few of the character exchanges that off to me, to the fact that this was a group effort adapted for stage. The relationship of Harry and Draco seemed too evolved. Even with 19 years to settle their difference, I didn’t feel the awkwardness that I expected based on how their missing years were presented to us.
Also, while quite funny in parts, the conversations between Hermoine, Harry, Ginny, Ron and the like were too forward facing, as if begging the audience for chuckles. Don’t get me wrong, I did laugh out loud and I enjoyed it. I’m certain they are crowd pleasers, but it still felt manufactured for stage.
Without spoiling the plot, I will say the concept of time travel was significant to the storyline and complicated within the pages in this format. Because it was written script-like, I was distracted at times with thoughts of, “How on earth could they even do this justice on stage?” I just don’t want those thoughts when I’m reading a fantastic story and found myself repeatedly irritated at their interruption.
And let’s talk about the plot. Voldemort is dead so what could possibly occur of significance? Right, then… well, it’s a rather obvious story line. The fact that it’s condensed into performance-length makes it that much more predictable. But I’m still easy to please. I love Law & Order, and the format is woefully the same for every episode and I still watch. I just expected, hoped, needed, more.
I was craving to know more about Harry’s life in those 19 years, a glimpse into his relationship with all of this children. What is Ginny up to on the daily? Is she running back and forth to Quiddich practice and dance lessons in between her job like I am? What of the rest of our other Potter family? My expectation was to know what a middle-aged wizard of fame dealt with in life after Hogwarts. Sadly, we only have small reference to a few of our old friends and that just seems so shallow. I would have given anything to be a fly on the wall at the Hogwarts 20 year reunion during this tale.
Overall, I loved the book because when you’re hungry, anything tastes great. After letting it ruminate for a day, I have to say I feel cheated. Having read all the Harry Potter books and then subsequently analyzing each respective movie for the nuances and details that were crushingly left out… all the moments that touch our soul and give these stories novels their place in history… I am left with the feeling that I just watched a movie before the book was released – an act so traitorous that a true potter-head would never in 1,000 years do.
Curses. Yes, I was disappointed. And yes, I’ll still probably read it over and over again. Because, Harry.