I have been dreading writing this review, mostly because the words I’m about to write may seem to fellow fans somewhat blasphemous. To preface, I am a giant Harry Potter fan. I grew up with the books, aging along with Harry. I would anxiously await each book’s release, and then race through the pages with my friends to see who could finish first. A few years ago, I commemorated my childhood by getting Harry Potter themed tattoos with one of my best friends, on Harry’s birthday, no less.
I even host a Harry Potter Birthday Bash at the library where kids can make their own wands, get sorted, and play games that I hope bring a little bit of wizarding world magic alive. Harry Potter is my passion, and I, like millions of other fans, was initially thrilled about the production of The Cursed Child and the play’s script being considered the long-awaited 8th book in the series.
Then, I read it, and all I want to do now is throw it as hard as I can into Myrtle’s toilet.
Summary via Goodreads
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.
I will caution that there are *spoilers* ahead. I went along with #KeepTheSecrets after reading, but I believe enough time has passed now, and it’s time to talk about the tragedy that is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Things I Liked:
Scorpious! Scorpious Malfoy is pretty much the best thing to happen to this script, and probably the only character I really cared for throughout the entire thing. He’s sweet, funny, and his scenes with Albus were what got me through this book. He’s a delight, and I needed more of him.
I will admit, there’s a really high point in the middle where Albus and Scorpious get to interact with a most beloved character – Snape. I cried (profusely), but hey, I’m totally biased. Snape will always have a spot in my heart, so I’m automatically going to be partial towards some Snape fanservice.
Things I Didn’t Like:
Where do I begin? I like to keep notes in my phone as I read when there are specific moments I’d like to touch on in my review…What do my notes look like for The Cursed Child? Well, here’s an excerpt:
-Harry wetting the bed……WTF?!?
-Scorpious better turn out to be gay, otherwise I’ve never seen ‘the power of friendship’ laid on so thick. All of this foreshadowing to his relationship with Albus better lead to something.
-Someone should probably explain to me why the Sorting Hat is now a person. Is he sitting on top of their heads still? I bet this either makes way more sense or looks absolutely ridiculous when performed on stage.
– Can we please just have a story about the Marauder years instead?
-Didn’t polyjuice take months to create? Well, heck, let me just whip up this complicated potion in a minute or two.
-It’s as if the writers have never heard of Harry Potter and someone just gave them the vaguest ideas about the characters. “Harry, yeah, he’s like, super brave, but he has a chip of survivor’s guilt on his shoulder….Hermione? Well, she’s like really smart…Ron? Oh….ummmm…just have him pop in every now and then with something corny to say.”
Not even joking. Trust me, I wish I was.
Coming into this book, I knew it would be a script instead of a fleshed out novel. I knew there would be shortcomings in terms of description just based on the format, and I was fine with that. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was a severe lack of authenticity. It called to mind really terrible fanfiction. Nothing about these characters made me feel like I was reading about the crew that I’ve been so fond of since picking up Sorcerer’s Stone over 15 years ago. Dumbledore professes his love for Harry like a son, Professor McGonagall starts sounding like she’s on I Love Lucy – “You’ve got some explaining to do!”, and Ron, well, poor Ron just feels like a prop no one cares about… at least he gets to appear more than Neville, which isn’t saying much. It’d also be nice if there was some clarification on voice inflection for certain phrases. I swear, there were lines that could be read at least three different ways, and the context didn’t provide any insight to their tone.
So, through a series of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey screw ups with a Time Turner, we discover that Voldemort had a daughter with Bellatrix, and that daughter is now set on making sure her father lives in the past to take over the world in the future. Yes, you read that right, that’s exactly the direction they decided to take this story. Why? The world may never know. There are a million other story lines that would have worked out better, but noooooo, we had to take the world’s most awkward epilogue (let’s just all go ahead and agree that Deathly Hallows would have been perfect without the epilogue) and expand it into a script that outdoes that awkwardness on every level. We didn’t need a story about the gang’s kids and every character we ever knew waxing poetic about who they are deep down inside now that they are older and the world has changed. No. Just NO. If anything at all, give us the Marauders. Harry’s tale was told perfectly in seven books. We didn’t need more of him, but a story where Harry wasn’t even a glint in his mother’s eye yet? That would have been acceptable… at least as long as no one let Jack Thorne and John Tiffany even remotely close to it. I refuse to accept that J.K. Rowling in any way had a major hand in Cursed Child. It is almost entirely devoid of her voice, of her characters, and of her magic.
2/5. Two reasons it’s at least getting a two – 1.) I actually did have an emotional response to something that happened in the story. 2.) I WANT to like it. It’s Harry Potter, so technically I feel like I SHOULD like it. Problem is, I just don’t. I don’t accept it as part of the canon, and the only way I’m consoling myself is by telling myself it was all just a bad, experimental piece of fanfiction. Besides, you should all know by now, A Very Potter Musical always has been and always will be the BEST Harry Potter stage show, and at least it’s one you are MEANT to laugh at. Instead of wasting your time with Cursed Child, you should probably head over to YouTube and give AVPM a watch. Or you could check out Inverse’s 5 Harry Potter Fanfictions that are better than Cursed Child.
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2 thoughts on “Off the Shelf: A Review of The Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, & John Tiffany”
I feel as you do if this happens on one of my favorite series. Which it did cause I love Harry Potter too. The reason why so many love the series is because of how well written is. I already read at least half a dozen bad reviews on this book so I’m not going to read. I prefer to have my Potter series experience untainted.
I agree with you. The characters seemed COMPLETELY off. I’m using the 19 year jump as an excuse to console myself. But I didn’t hate it as much as you did. I mean, overall it was a pretty decent read but it was definitely no where near the seven books in terms of awesomeness..