When I first heard that a play would be hitting the stage in London telling the “8th story” of Harry Potter, I was both excited about the prospect and sad that I wouldn’t be able to see it. When I heard that the script of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child would be published as a book, I may or may not have almost cried with happiness.
I’ve kept this review spoiler-free, so if you haven’t read/seen the play yet, no worries!
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, written by Jack Thorne and based on a story by JK Rowling, was released on July 31st. Cursed Child begins where Deathly Hallows left off, 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts, with Albus Severus Potter leaving for his first year at Hogwarts. The play covers the first few years of Albus’s life, so we get to “see” the ways he changes and stays the same as he gets older.
I had read a lot of mixed reviews of the play from those who got to see the preview shows, so I went in to the script with my expectations low. Overall, I was satisfied with the experience, but that doesn’t mean it was perfect.
As far as the plot itself goes, I understand where some of the complaints come in. There are some aspects of the plot that don’t seem to line up well with the established canon of the original books. It does take a little extra suspension of disbelief to fully accept the plot as “realistic.” However, I didn’t feel like it was enough of an issue to completely detract from the experience. While the plot itself did not always make the most sense, the ultimate resolution felt true to Rowling and the Harry Potter universe.
Characterization is another area where there are some mixed opinions. Most of our original favorites are present throughout the play, and there are some new characters, too. There are also several instances of familiar characters turning up in unfamiliar ways, and it was interesting to see them presented in this way, even if I didn’t always “agree” with how they were portrayed. At times, I felt as though the characterization did not align with what we experienced in the original series. Some of this probably comes from the characters being written differently because they are older, and also because they are being written for the stage. However, how much of this change can be attributed to these factors and how much is a result of truly flawed writing is debatable.
The play may be inspired by a story that JK Rowling wrote, but ultimately it was written by Jack Thorne. How much of a hand Rowling had in the finer details of the plot and characterizations I don’t know. Thorne can’t be expected to be inside these character’s heads the way Rowling is, which could account for a lot of the issues that people have. Plus, a screenplay by its nature is going to be written differently than a novel. A lot depends on watching the actors on stage, and sometimes things may be written in a certain way because it will work well on stage. It’s important to keep all this in mind when reading Cursed Child, because those going into it expecting it to feel like another Rowling novel about Harry and the gang will be disappointed. Those who are prepared for a different sort of reading experience might have a better time with it.
Overall, I enjoyed Cursed Child, and if you are on the fence about reading it I would recommend it. If I ever got the chance to see it performed, I definitely would. If you are thinking of reading it just keep in mind that this is NOT the 8th Harry Potter book—it’s a script, written primarily by someone who wasn’t JK Rowling. Remembering these things will help you to enjoy Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for what it is, not what you wish it could be.
Have you read Cursed Child? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!