Sunday Book Club: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany

No, Harry Potter is not just for children. If you think it is, please keep your opinions to yourself or risk getting smacked by me. It took me such a long time to finally give this book a go, because I am a huge Harry Potter fan and I’ve heard so many friends of mine who are equally big fans of the book give it a huge thumbs down, so I’ve been scared of reading it for fear that it will tarnish the place that Harry Potter has in my heart.

But curiosity got the better of me and I couldn’t say no anymore when I found the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child book staring at me at the Public Library, extremely prominently on an eye-level shelf. I thought it was fate and I had to take it.

The book is broken down into Part I and Part II, because it’s supposed to be a play; both parts are in the book though. I admit that I’m not a fan of reading plays; I did literature at A levels and I loved all other forms of literature except for plays – I prefer to watch them rather than read them. I dislike reading broken paragraphs, and I don’t enjoy the structure of a written play with its cue lines. So in short, I pretty much forced myself to read this.

**This part of the review consist of Spoilers

It’s 19 years since the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Harrows; Harry and Ginny sends their second son Albus Severus Potter on the Hogwarts Express. Harry is now the Head of Magical Law Enforcement at the Ministry of Magic, while Ginny is the sports editor at The Daily Prophet. Ron and Hermione are also sending their daughter Rose on the train; Hermione is now Minister of Magic, while Ron manages the Weasley joke shop.

After being teased by his elder brother James, Albus worries he will be sorted into Slytherin but Harry reassures him that he has a choice. Albus makes friends with Scorpius Malfoy, the son of Draco Malfoy. The school is stunned when Albus is sorted into Slytherin with Scorpius. Both are bullied over the next few years; Albus with his perceived failure to live up to the Potter name, and Scorpius due to rumours that he is the son of Lord Voldemort.

Albus and Harry drifts apart. Prior to his fourth year at Hogwarts, Albus quarrels with his father after he is gifted Harry’s baby blanket, and a love potion from Ron. During the fight, Harry says that he sometimes wishes Albus was not his son, and Albus spills the potion on the blanket. Meanwhile, Harry obtains a powerful Time-Turner that allows one to travel back further in the past. Harry starts to get nightmares and his scar begins to hurt.

Amos Diggory, who is now old and cared for by his niece, Delphi Diggory, asks Harry to use the Time-Turner to prevent the death of his son, Cedric Diggory as it was a meaningless death – Voldemort called Cedric “the Spare”. After overhearing Harry refusing to help, Albus is determined to do it himself and convinces Scorpius to help. The two escape from the Hogwarts Express on the way to school and arrive at St. Oswald’s Home for Old Witches and Wizards, where Amos lives, and team up with Delphi to steal the Time-Turner.

Since Cedric died because he won the Triwizard Tournament with Harry, the boys travel back to the first task in 1994 and sabotage Cedric. However, they ended up creating an alternate world in which Ron and Hermione never married and Albus was sorted into Gryffindor. They discover that as they chose to disguise themselves as Durmstrang students, Hermione became suspicious of Viktor Krum and went to the Yule Ball with Ron instead. Thus, Ron never experienced the jealous episode fundamental to their relationship and they remained just friends, while Ron married Padma Patil and had a son named Panju. Hermione, in turn, became a frustrated and mean professor at Hogwarts.

Meanwhile, Harry’s fear that Voldemort may return increases. He becomes convinced that Scorpius is a threat to Albus after speaking with Dumbledore’s portrait and being told by the centaur Bane that a “dark cloud” is around Albus. He forces Minerva McGonagall, now Headmistress of Hogwarts, to keep tabs on Albus using the Marauder’s Map and to have the boys kept apart at Hogwarts, by threatening to shut down the school.

Albus and Scorpius decide to use the Time-Turner again to change Cedric’s fate by sabotaging him during the second task. When Scorpius returns, Scorpius finds himself in a world where Harry is dead so Albus was never born and Lord Voldemort is the ruler.

Scorpius discovers that after being humiliated at the second task, Cedric becomes bitter and joined the Death Eaters – he killed Neville Longbottom during the events of Deathly Hallows, preventing him from killing Nagini and allowing Voldemort to win the Battle of Hogwarts. Scorpius is a now popular Head Boy and Quidditch star, who torment Muggle-borns. Dolores Umbridge is the Headmistress of Hogwarts and Draco Malfoy is the Head of Magical Law Enforcement. A powerful dark figure called “The Augurey” leads the Ministry of Magic.

Ron, Hermione and Snape are now the last members of an anti-Voldemort movement and sacrifices themselves to let Scorpius use the Time-Turner to restore the original timeline. Scorpius reunites with Albus while Harry and Albus reconciles.

Scorpius and Albus attempt to destroy the Time-Turner. However, Delphi captures them with the intention of restoring the alternate timeline where Lord Voldemort rules; Scorpius realizes that Delphi was in charge of the Ministry of Magic in that timeline from her tattoo of the wings of a magical bird, which is an Augurey. Meanwhile, the adults learn about Albus and Scorpius disappearing with Delphi and they confront Amos; they discover that Delphi is not his niece, but the daughter of Lord Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange.

Delphi takes Albus and Scorpiusto the final challenge of the Triwizard Tournament, but her plan was thwarted by the boys ; she then uses the Time-Turner to travel further back in time, taking them with her and destroys the Time-Turner, leaving all of them stranded.

Albus and Scorpius discover they have been taken back to the night Harry’s parents were killed and think that Delphi is planning to kill Harry before Voldemort tries to do so. The boys write an invisible message on Harry’s baby blanket, knowing in the present the blanket would be stained with love potion and expose the message to Harry.

Meanwhile, Draco reveals the Time-Turner was actually a prototype for a perfected model owned by him. After Harry receives the message, they use Draco’s Time-Turner to travel back in time. They also realise that Delphi actually intends to convince Voldemort to abandon his attempt to kill Harry, which will ensure her father’s survival.

Harry transfigures into Voldemort to distract Delphi; the group subdues her and decides that she will be brought back to the present and then to Azkaban. Lord Voldemort appears and murders Harry’s parents while the group stands aside and watch history repeat so as not to alter the past. Now back in the present time on the original timeline, Albus and Scorpius decides to try harder at Hogwarts, with Scorpius asking Rose out on a date.

Final Thoughts

I’ve already mentioned that I really dislike reading plays because of its non-flowing structure and lack of fluidity so I will not be talking about the structure of this book. It’s meant to be a play and I do not love reading plays well enough to give an educated comment on the quality of the actual writing. Also, from what I understand it’s actually written by Jack Thorne with the story by J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany; it’s not written by J.K. Rowling.

The story plot is somewhat entertaining. I wouldn’t say that it matches up to my expectations of a Harry Potter sequel, but I think that will be quite a difficult job as the entire Harry Potter series was rolled out in 7 large books, while this is just one. But it’s not terrible and at least there was an engaging plot. The one point that I really dislike is the reveal that Delphi is actually Voldemort’s daughter – seriously? Voldemort procreating? Someone save me from the weird images that are popping up in my head. They could have just easily claimed that she is a crazy supporter or even as a half sibling of Voldemort. But the idea of Voldemort procreating is just not sitting well with me.

I also think the story is actually too short – but I do understand that this was meant to be a play so there’s another consideration that it has to be able to be completed within two to three hours. It’s not meant to be a novel, so we can’t actually read it and expect it to match up to the details of a novel. There’s also less magic, other than the time travel, as I imagine the stage props will be ridiculously hard to make if there was too much magic.

The ending is pretty much predictable but I never expected it to not be; there was no way that they could have let Harry Potter die or allow any other world where Voldemort continues to exist as that’s pretty much cancelling out the entire Harry Potter series. And the relationship between Albus and Scorpius sounds way more than a simple brotherhood love, just saying, and the feeble attempt to make it look like Scorpius likes Rose is just insulting.

Now the book did not actually say who is the cursed child, which I thought was rather clever. It’s really up to your own interpretation – is it Albus (who was the only one in his family to not make it into Gryffindor), Scorpius (whom everyone thinks is the child of Voldemort), or Delphi (who really is Voldemort’s child)? It could be talking about any of them really. It could be any of them and it’s only true when they think they are.

I found myself enjoying reading this a lot more than I expected. It’s quite an engaging story, even with the knowledge that the ending will not be anything too surprising. Sure, it’s not as amazing and magical as the original Harry Potter books, but I think it is foolish to expect it to be because Harry Potter was such an amazing book because we basically grew up with them and it will always have a special place in any Harry Potter’s fan’s heart. But I think there was room enough for a follow-up, and this one did not do a bad job.

3 thoughts

  1. A great a well thought out review. I’m glad it wasn’t a total thumbs down for you. It’s worthwhile noting though, that it’s like comparing apples and oranges. Cursed Child can’t come close to the other Harry Potter books because it’s not a book, it’s a script. A script is not meant to be read and can’t come close to the experience of a production.I never did understand why they thought publishing the script was a good idea and I’m not surprised by the thumbs down of many. I saw the play in London two years ago and it was indescribable. I was mesmerized and it was almost a surreal experience sitting in an audience surrounded by huge Potter fans. I still have not read the script and probably never will. And what saddens me most is that those who gave a thumbs down to the script might not think to actually experience the next chapter of Harry Potter as it was meant to be experienced.
    See it whenever you get the change :))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comments! 🙂

      Yes I am aware that it’s a script – I totally agree that it’s like comparing apples and oranges, and there are so many limitations in a script because it has to be able to be acted out in a limited time while a novel does not, but I think it’s ok to publish the scripts… I mean, Shakespeare’s works are scripts too but it’s still published in text and are renowned works of literature. I guess the biggest problem here is that people who read Harry Potter may not be attuned to the writing style of a script and may condemn it simply because it’s not something that they’re used to and may not realise the existence of many constraints that don’t exist in novel form.

      I really wanted to watch but it is SO HARD to get the tickets! I couldnt get it when I was living in Europe and visited London so many times last year 😦

      Like

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