Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling is the latest installment in the Harry Potter series. It takes place 19 years after the take down of Voldemort and focuses on the relationship between Harry and his son Albus as he enters Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
What makes this book different from the other Harry Potter books is that it is actually a play written with John Tiffany and Jack Thorne. Readers used to Rowling’s prose and dialogue in the other Harry Potter books may miss that structure a bit as they jump quickly from scene to scene and read dialogue that is scripted for actors. However, I found that after reading the first few pages it was relatively easy to slip into the play-mode and envision this being acted out on a stage.
**SPOILERS** The story begins where the seventh book ends. Harry sees Albus off on the Hogwarts Express as he begins his first year at Hogwarts. Albus becomes best friends with the least likely person of all, Scorpius Malfoy. Even though I was initially surprised by this, their friendship is legit and actually makes a lot of sense when you think about who their parents are. Because both boys have grown up burdened by their last name and the giant shadows of their fathers, they can relate to one another really well. Scorpius is quite charming and bookish in a Hermione sort of way and he is the perfect foil for Albus as he tries to figure out how he fits into a world where his father is a Hero with a capital “H.”
I enjoyed most of the plotting in this story because not only do you get a look into the wizarding world of an adult Harry Potter, but you also get to go back in time and watch some pivotal moments in the past through someone else’s eyes. This adds a uniqueness to these scenes that they do not have in the original stories. That being said, there were a few too many coincidences for my taste. For instance, multiple time-turners magically turning up after they all were supposedly destroyed.
One of the key points this play is able to address through the plotting is the “what if” theory. Through Albus’ journey we are able to explore what could have happened if certain things hadn’t occurred in the earlier Harry Potter stories. The solution is not as easy as going back in time and changing one incident or saving one person. Those actions create ripples and in turn, unexpected consequences that both Albus and Scorpius realize a bit too late.
While the plotting was generally well done with some twists, turn and surprises, the dialogue was more of a roller coaster ride in terms of readability. There were high points in the dialogue but the lows outweighed them by about a 2 to 1 margin. Towards the end there were some outstanding bits between Ginny and Harry and Harry and Draco. Then there were parts like the scenes with Snape that fell completely flat and felt unreal. I know it was an alternate reality, but I just don’t think Snape would speak that way no matter where he was in time. The same goes for Harry in the way he speaks to everyone when his son goes missing in the alternate reality. He becomes everything he despised about the Ministry of Magic and this is just too much of a stretch for me. It also feels like Hermione has been relegated to the back burner and all her creativity and ingenuity is missing in the storyline.
Despite some of its shortcomings in the dialogue area and missteps with plotting I did enjoy revisiting the world of Harry Potter again. One of the things that the story left me pondering is who really is the “Cursed Child?” There are several nominees for the winner of this title and I just don’t know where I would put my money. I think good arguments could be made for at least two of the characters and possibly a third. Despite not settling on an answer to this question yet, I am glad I went on this journey with Albus and his dad Harry.
Have you read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? What did you think? Who do you think the Cursed Child is? Let me know in the comments below.