Written By J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne
Published by: Pottermore from J.K. Rowling
Well it’s been nineteen years since the Battle of Hogwarts and the defeat of Voldemort. Harry and Ginny are married and raising a family just as Hermione and Ron are. Hermione is Harry’s boss at the Ministry of Magic and Ron has somehow ended up running Weasley’s Wizardly Wheezes. Everything would be perfect except for the persistent rumors that a child of Voldemort’s survives and the growing distance between Harry and his son Albus.
I was a latecomer to the Harry Potter universe. I didn’t pick up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone until the summer of 2003. I was bored in an airport and it was the only book that looked remotely appealing in the airport bookstore. It didn’t take long to rip through what we now know should be called Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (thanks Scholastic Corporation for underestimating your audience) and I was intrigued. Can’t say I was blown away. The world building was fantastic, but Harry was a bit of a bore. Sure he was a brave and loyal kid who had gotten the shaft from life but he was hot headed, judgmental and showed questionable judgment many times in the story. However it was good enough to get me to read the other books and the more I read the more I got sucked into the Pottersverse. Soon I was in the same boat as millions of other fans waiting for the next book. One thing that really drew me in was how each book was just a little bit more sophisticated than the previous. It was almost as if Rowling was aiming the books at kids that were the same age of Harry in each of the book. From the beginning there was a darkness there but it got deeper and more complex in each book. Now in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two Harry is entering middle age, married, and a father to three kids. Now instead of trying to keep Snape off his back in Potions he’s puzzling out why his middle child Albus won’t talk to him. This is a script for a stage play written by Jack Thorne and based on a story by J.K. Rowling. While this isn’t a traditional novel the story is considered in canon and the eight story in the series. Interestingly, this script is meant to be seen as a single play broken into two parts. Recommended viewing of the play is as a matinee and evening or across two consecutive days. So, this is a unique viewing experience and definitely a different sort of reading experience.
The same themes that J. K. Rowling has always played with are still here. Death and family and friendship and choice are still very big parts of the story. Of course there is Harry, Ron and Hermione as well as Ginny, Draco and a smattering of other familiar characters. Rowling even pulls off some story magic to include several characters that didn’t survive the original series. There are potions and spells and magical duels and devices. There is heartbreak, redemption and reconciliation. Most of what made the original seven books great is in Cursed Child but there are a couple of glaring exceptions. Some of the characters seem limited. The principals are well fleshed out and feel true to what you remember of the characters and where they currently are in life, but many of the supporting characters seem like they are sort of just plugged in. The names just used as familiar labels on a character that needs to do this at that time for the plot to progress. Add on to that the world just doesn’t seem as deep and detailed as the books. The corners and shadows aren’t fleshed out. Which if you remember this is a script and not a novel is a forgivable omission. Something had to give. Rowling and her co-writer Jack Thorne didn’t have eight hundred pages to play around in. The script is three hundred and twenty pages long and there is a lot of story in there. I’ve not read many scripts and I had some trepidation upon embarking on this one. While it is obviously a script, after a while the format becomes invisible and the story shines through. The stage directions are graphic and have me extremely curious how they can pull off some of what is described.
For most fans there really isn’t any question about picking this up and I would absolutely recommend Cursed Child for the more casual fan. Most of us won’t have an opportunity to see the play, at least not for many years so this is the next best thing. While I would rather have had another novel it is interesting to see the material adapted to a new format even if that does mean some sacrifices to the things that made the books so fantastic. Cursed Child sits proudly beside the other books on my virtual bookshelf and the next time I decide to read through the books again it will definitely be the one I finish with. Assuming nothing else comes out between now and then.