Series: Harry Potter #8
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books on July 31st 2016
Also by this author: The Cuckoo's Calling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.
Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
*some spoilers to follow*
If I’m being honest, I never originally intended on reading this story. I adore Harry Potter, I just felt that the story was better left as is after the epilogue of the Deathly Hallows. But then my book bestie morphed into the pushiest book pusher that ever pushed and suddenly I found myself having already finished and wondering how I ever thought I could not read this. Setting aside all the vast amounts of criticism this has received (i.e. this isn’t written by Rowling, it reads like fan-fic, it’s not even a book but a screenplay) it ended up being more than I could have ever hoped for.
“Hogwarts will be the making of you, Albus. I promise you, there is nothing to be frightened of there.”
Taking us right back to the epilogue of the Deathly Hallows, we get to see Albus getting on his first train to Hogwarts. And his discussion with Harry regarding the possibility of him being placed in Slytherin. We’re not given the detailed account of his time spent at Hogwarts, but rather the generalized impression that Hogwarts isn’t quite the sanctuary for him that it was for his father. The comprehensive details of the world are also missing from the screenplay but for those of us who have already read the first seven books, that world is emblazoned upon our minds and no rehashing of details are necessary for us to fully comprehend each and every scene.
Cursed Child manages to smoothly connect many major plot points from the original novels: the infiltration of the Ministry of Magic by Harry, Ron, and Hermione (Deathly Hallows, book 7), the Tri-Wizard tournament and Cedric’s death (Goblet of Fire, book 4), time turners (Prisoner of Azkaban, book 3), the perpetual battle between good and evil, and the important father-son relationships that have been a focal point of this series from the beginning. It also makes a less than obvious point of showing how seemingly inconsequential deaths end up having a much larger impact in the grand scheme of things. With the help of a time turner, we’re shown snippets of how the world could have been with the simplest of changes. The variation of possibilities was both shocking and horrifying. What I most enjoyed was how this wasn’t simply a new set of adventures with a new set of characters but rather recognition of the fact that the actions of the past was not a given end to that story, but that they inevitably had an effect on the future of their own children.
Harry: “How do I protect my son, Dumbledore?”
Dumbledore: “You ask me, of all people, how to protect a boy in terrible danger? We cannot protect the young from harm. Pain must and will come.”
While we do see the original characters and what they have become 19 years later, the focal point is on their children, primarily Albus and Scorpius who become immediate friends on the Hogwarts Express. Albus has a severely strained relationship with his father, Harry, and has difficulty living up to not just the enormous importance of his father, of the great men he was named after, and because of the fact that he was in fact placed in Slytherin rather than his father’s house, Gryffindor. It’s easy to see from the original stories how understandable it would be for Harry to not be the perfect father, considering his own lack of a permanent father figure. He does what he feels is best even when it is quite clearly not best, and the scenes between the two are often painful and heartbreaking. Scorpius, son of Draco Malfoy, also suffers from a poor relationship with his father due the actions of his past as well as Draco’s own relationship with his father, Lucius.
In October of this year I decided to do an impromptu re-read of the Harry Potter series on audio. I have re-read books 1-3 numerous times but I tend to run out of steam and have never been able to re-read books 4-7. Well, I finally overcame my hangups and completed my first re-read of Goblet of Fire. Due to the majority of this story centering around the storyline from The Goblet of Fire I chose to do my second re-read of the year (ha) of Cursed Child since the storyline was still so fresh in my mind. It works extremely well if you treat it as a #4.5 book as well, granted, it’s vital to know the outcome of the series as a whole in order to fully appreciate how it ties everything together and illustrates the growth of these characters.
“Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.”
Yes, perfection is an impossibility, and while there were many things I would have personally changed, this still managed to hit all my Harry Potter feels as perfectly as possible. Cursed Child reinforced my love of both the original stories and characters by growing them in legitimate ways, it gave me new characters to love (primarily Scorpius <3), and it removed the stereotype associated with Slytherin house by showing that not all associated are necessarily evil. #slytherinpride