11 August, 2016

[Book Review] Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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 - Parts I & II (Special Rehearsal Edition): The Official Script Book of the Original West End Production 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.

This Special Rehearsal Edition will be available to purchase until early 2017, after which a Definitive Edition of the script will go on sale.

There will be spoilers, read at your own risk.

Series: Harry Potter (#8)
Release Date: 31 July, 2016
Publisher: Scholastic, inc
Genre: Young Adult/Action & Adventure/Dramas & Plays
ISBN:  9781338099133
Edition: Hardback (Special Rehearsal Script Edition) 
Review Written: 11 August, 2016

Harry Potter and the Curse Child touted to be the final 'book' in the series and definitively close the door on Harry's life after Hogwarts hardly lives up to the hype. Though I'd already read many places where Rowling had stated multiple times that it would be the script from the London-based stage play, I still held a small amount of hope since it was being classified as 'the 8th Story' that might build upon the unsatisfying epilogue of the seventh novel. Sadly, the 'book' is just that, the script of a play written as a collaboration between J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne though I'm uncertain how much of the writing was truly done by Rowling. 

The play itself took me less than two hours to read from start to finish and honestly read like a poorly written fan fiction I might have penned in the early 2000s. While key personality traits are there, the entire cast feels out of character and strained. The trio are shoved into their own little corners, though the focus of the play is on Harry's second son, Albus Severus (really who allowed him to name a child Albus Severus, there are so many better names), who finds himself sorted into Slytherin with Scorpius Malfoy. Rumors in the world have abounded marking Scorpius as the potential son of Voldermort (yes, that Voldermort) with Astoria Malfoy (nee Greengrass) leaving him an outcast as much as Albus tends to be. The first two years of their friendship really isn't explored left to reader (or playgoer) imagination while it becomes abundantly clear that Harry really doesn't know how to connect to his younger son.

Shit hits proverbial fan when Amos Diggory visits Harry shortly after the discovery of an illegal time-turner and Albus overhears the conversation. He also meets a woman claiming to be Delphini Diggory, Amos's niece who's taken over being his nurse at the rest home where he resides. Angry with the thought of how his father is lying and wanting to bring Cedric back for Amos since he knows what it's like to be 'the spare', Albus drags Scorpius into a twisting adventure of escaping from the Hogwarts Express (something that has supposedly never been done) and breaking into the ministry with the help of Delphini. From there they steal the illegal time turner and jump back 14 years to the past without knowing if they can return to their own time. As per original Potter lore, time turners work on the principle of being able to move backwards in time but then the subject has to live out the time to return to the present instead of being able to jump forward or expect to be pulled back to the present. The play ignores this original lore however and instead allows that the time-turner has a preset disposition of 5 minutes in which the children (Albus and Scorpius) have to change the past.

Obviously every change they do creates more problems than it solves, their original 'fix' erasing the existence of Rose and Hugo Weasley and switches it to where Albus was sorted into Gryffindor. Harry is far more domineering in this timeline, bullying both Albus and McGonagall to keep him from being near Scorpius. In an attempt to fix more things, they jump back again, this time humiliating Cedric during the second task. This also proves disasterous given that it creates yet another time line where Voldermort survived, Cedric is a death eater, and Albus obviously doesn't exist. Scorpius ends up enlisting the help of Severus Snape (yes you read that correctly, Snape survived in the alternate timeline), Hermione and Ron (who outside of the main time-line never marry each other) to set things right in the tournament and right the flow of time. That successfully brings back Albus, and supposedly rights the timeline except... Delphini eventually gets her hands on the time-turner and wouldn't you know it, tries to mess everything up again because surprise she's the daughter of Bellatrix and Voldermort (wow, who didn't see that coming about halfway through Act 2?). 

Albus and Scorpius end up dragged back 30 years at this point and stranded in the past when Delphini destroys the time-turner and disappears. They spend a fair amount of the day trying to figure out a way to contact anyone in the present, and eventually succeed in getting Harry's attention via his blanket from childhood. Draco, of course, has an actual time-turner (also illegal) that can jump them back and bring them back to the future. As per usual Potter style, the day is saved by Harry and Company, the timeline left intact and Delphini is returned to the present with the group to be placed in Azkaban. 

The play ignores a fair amount of Potter lore, offering very little in the way of actual constructive writing and honestly reads like bad fan fiction given that the main villain is the 'daughter of Voldermort'. I will say, I did like the idea of Albus being sorted into Slytherin and his friendship with Scorpius (though Scorpius's obsession with Rose was both creepy and a bit out of left field as she hates him for nearly the entire play and refuses to acknowledge him). I also enjoyed the characterization of Draco Malfoy having mellowed from much of his arrogance of youth. 

All in all, I can't honestly say I particularly found this to be a definite conclusion to the series and the hype of it being the 8th story was more than overplayed. Between this and Rowling's lack of trying with the American Wizardry information, I have to say I've been left feeling a bit unsatisfied with the ending of Harry's story and the future of the franchise as a whole. Perhaps we should have left Harry right where he was at the end of the book seven and not bothered to bring him to the present once again.

1 comment:

  1. Sorry you didn't enjoy this as much as you could have :( I've been hesitate to read it for the exact reasons you mentioned, and so I think I'll just stick with the original series!
    Great review :)

    New GFC follower :)

    Amy @ A Magical World Of Words