Hey everyone! This is a mostly spoiler free review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling although a few general points will be talked about.
I normally do book posts on Friday but I wanted to write this up while the book was fresh in my mind. Since I was supposed to post my July Equestrian Life post today I’ll post that on Friday instead.
In case you don’t know, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been marketed as the “eighth book” of the Harry Potter series. In reality it is a script to a two part play written by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Throne. This play is being staged in London’s West End and is consistently sold out. I’ll stay away from spoilers up until the last section (I’ll note it in the heading when we get to it).
Here we go!
Harry Potter, A History
I started reading Harry Potter in third grade when my teacher became obsessed and started reading the books to the class. I’m glad to have grown up when I did because honestly the stuff I hear about schools these days makes me question if teachers can even bring such creativity and life into classrooms anymore.
Her obsession quickly spread to the whole 3rd grade and we even had a whole Harry Potter day that included sorting (pulled houses from a hat, I think I was Ravenclaw but there’s a chance it might have been Hufflepuff), magic classes (I remember we had to color in my classroom but we moved around the whole day), and a feast (lunch). At the time only the first two or three books were out so I read them all and made sure my parents got me the rest (thanks mom and dad!). Then I watched the movies and my obsession never stopped. I have a whole shelf in my favorite bookcase dedicated solely to Harry Potter books and merchandise. In fact, I recently did the Pottermore sorting which you can read here.
Getting the book
I walked into Barnes and Noble back in May to have a price adjustment on a book I’d bought (I had let my 20% member discount cards at home the day I made the purchase) and while in line I noticed a sign announcing the new book’s release date in July. I commented on how I was planning to buy the book and was immediately recommended to head to the customer service desk upstairs to pre-order a copy. The conversation went something like this:
Me: Oh I can’t wait until the book comes out! I really want to read it.
Young Cashier: Well you can pre-order upstairs at the customer service desk!
Me: Hmmm, I hadn’t thought about that. I just figured I’d come in that day and get one. Do you guys ever sell out of books anymore? I don’t recall hearing of any sold out releases recently.
Manager (there had been some issues doing the adjustment): Oh yeah, we do sometimes. We’re getting plenty of books but it’s always a possibility.
Me: Well then I’ll head upstairs after this and pre-order right away!
And with that I went upstairs and this is what happened next.
Employee at the desk: Okay you’re all set with your pre-order! Will you be joining us for our midnight release party?
Me: …there’s a midnight release party?
Employee: *notices my look of confusion and terror* Yes, but you don’t have to go! You’re guaranteed a book so you can pick it up whenever you want.
Me: Phew. Well I’ll think about it.
I did think about it but ultimately decided not to go. I figured it would be a lot of kids running around and I don’t particularly like crowded areas so I just decided to pick it up later in the day.
I walked into the store at around 1:30 pm and headed to the desk I’d pre-ordered from. There were tables and chairs set up and the employee was wearing a Gryffindor cardigan. Harry Potter merchandise was everywhere and the employee was moving out an empty book cart and replacing it with a full one.
I was directed back downstairs to the regular cashiers. I was in line behind some guys who looked like they were in their late teens, one of the holding the book. For some reason the older man behind me was in major hurry because he kept trying to inch around me and almost pushing me forward so I would be RIGHT BEHIND the guys rather than at the sign signaling where to wait for the next cashier like you’re supposed to. That conversation went like this:
Impatient man: Are you in line?
Me: Yes. That’s why I’m standing here…
Impatient man: *Sighs and finally backs off*
So that was a blast. Should’ve gone to that midnight release…
I finally get to the cashier and tell him I pre-ordered the book. He pulls out his list and finds me listed and grabs a book. He scans it and starts to tell me how much it is when I show him my B&N Member card (and say out loud that I have it three times). He scans it and then starts trying to charge me right away. Instead I show him my 20% off discount on my phone and he goes back and adds it. As he does so I tell him that I have a gift card I’ll be using for some of it and he instead starts trying to charge me!
At this point I’m getting more annoyed because he’s clearly just trying to get me out of there and watching the line rather than focusing and paying attention to what is happening in front of him or calling for another employee to help. He finally gets the idea that I am NOT going to swipe my card until he takes the gift card and when he takes it to swipe it he is again not paying attention and swiping it the wrong side up. I didn’t feel very helpful at that point so I just stayed quiet while he got annoyed and then had to type in the number. Again, he’s going too fast and not paying attention so he typed it in wrong and had to re-type, which takes up more of his precious time. Finally he gets that done and all I have left to pay is a little over $8 (Yay for B&N Membership!). I swipe my card and we’re finally done!
Thoughts before the book
As I told my mom as I pulled out the book to start reading it a bit later, I was worried I’d hate it. She seemed to be convinced that I wouldn’t but I wasn’t so sure.
I love the Harry Potter world and I was genuinely worried the script would be a disappointment. While I wanted more of Harry just like everyone else I would have been okay with J.K. Rowling moving on from the wizarding world all together and never releasing anything Harry Potter again. I know, it sounds weird and you may be doubting my super fan status but believe me, I want nothing, absolutely nothing, to ruin the series I love so much. With the upcoming movie and this play, I wasn’t sure how good they would be, especially since so much of it isn’t Rowling’s writings and these projects could just decide to coast on Harry Potter’s fame, knowing tickets and books will sell just because of the world they’re set in.
So it was with great apprehension that I opened the script to read…
While reading the book
This will be slightly difficult to go through without spoiling anything so I’ll talk about what I was looking out for. I was looking for character or world consistencies (or inconsistencies), new information on how the world has changed and events that happened since book 7, and stuff like that. I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll leave that there.
After the book *SPOILERS!!!*
I have not seen the play so I’m happy the script was published. Along with dialogue is some stage directions as well. Because it’s a script, this is a very fast read for 352 pages. Like I said earlier, I got the book at around 1:30 pm or 2 pm. I ran other errands afterwards for about three hours and still finished the book by 9 pm that day.
I was honestly surprised at how funny the script was. Right away I was laughing and imagining the world of Harry Potter. It was easy to step back onto Platform 9 and 3/4 or Hogwarts, or even the Ministry. I was surprised at the beginning and how quickly everything went.
The book opens on the platform as Albus is heading off to his first year at Hogwarts, and then the story moves along really fast. It’s almost like flash backs until the backstory is told and the plot moves forward.
The story moved pretty much parallel to Goblet of Fire for a lot of the plot and provided some nice insight to alternate and dark endings the books could have had if Rowling had decided “I’m sick of this Potter kid, I’ll kill him off, end of series!” which I thought was hilarious. I also really liked seeing Harry and Hermione as high ranking Ministry employees.
There were a few parts that didn’t quite make sense. Definitely the Polyjuice Potion section and a few parts where I couldn’t picture how it was staged (the train and trolley witch scene is one). But there were tons of fun jokes and scenes as well.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot that was new. Sure, the kids were new in the sense that they were only introduced in the Epilogue of book 7, but a lot of the plot was moved along by old tales and events. It felt like a lot of references were made to the books rather than mixing some new plot points into the story which is more of what I expected. A lot of characters that were introduced in the epilogue are sadly missing but given that the play was already two parts and there were so many characters already I could understand that choice. We do get Delphi as a brand new character and a few new side characters.
I wish there had been more of the story that was unique to The Cursed Child rather than just having it follow the books so closely. Still it was nice to see such a different perspective on the events the book touched upon.Overall this definitely did not feel like the eighth book, not just because it was a script, but because it didn’t have enough new items. This isn’t necessarily bad, I didn’t hate it, but I think because I expected it to be a brand new story with limited references to previous events I was thrown off.
The kids were pretty great too. Albus was a troubled and annoying kid but Scorpius was just the best. I wish there had been more from the other kids but ah well. I didn’t quite like the ending with Delphi but it was a good resolution and everyone seemed to learn the lesson of “don’t mess with time” so I guess it all worked out. Honestly I enjoyed the journey to the end more than the end itself.
One adorable and hilarious thing that happened while I was reading the book is that my sister lent me her time turner necklace to wear. What she didn’t know is that Albus and Scorpius had just begun using a time turner in their story. It was amazing!
*End of spoilers!*
Honestly, I’m happy to get more Harry and his world in whatever format I can. I did enjoy the story and I felt it was a nice continuation to the story. I hope I get the opportunity to see the play someday, I really enjoy theatre and while I normally focus on musicals, I love a good play every now and again. If I get the chance, I will definitely go out of my way to see this play!
Let me know if you’ve read this book or plan to read it! Please, no spoilers. If you did read it and wrote a review with spoilers, feel free to leave me a link to your post so I can check it out!
Thanks for reading!