Book Review: Harry Potter And The Cursed Child: Parts One And Two

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child:  Parts One And Two, a new play by Jack Thorne, based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne

[Note:  Spoiler alert.]

There are a few things that a reader of this book needs to know before reading it, especially as its audience is likely to include a lot of people who are fond of reading about the larger world of Harry Potter [1].  For one, this book is a play, written in four acts, and thus has a form that is less full of detail than Rowling’s novels, and requires a great deal of effort on the part of readers to fill in the details and gestures for themselves based upon their larger knowledge of the world in which this script inhabits.  Few people, after all, read plays, unless they are forced to read Shakespeare, and will likely find much that is missing here compared to the novels and stories they are most fond of [2].  That said, just as the Harry Potter series was an encouragement to read novels for many young people growing up in the 1990’s and since then, this play may be an encouragement for people to learn how to read scripts, which is a good thing to learn since they are basically written conversations with some material to set the scene and show the actions of the characters added for clarity’s sake.

This particular play picks up more or less where the epilogue to Deathly Hallows finishes off, with Albus Severus Potter going off to Hogwarts being teased by his slightly older brother.  What happens after that shines a bit of light on the past, shows Harry Potter to have some work to do in his own emotional maturity, shows why it is a bad thing to mess around with time, and much else besides.  Like the series of novels, it consists of a core threesome of friends, but this is a much darker set of friends, as Albus is sorted into Slytherin and becomes best friends with Draco’s son Scorpius.  After escaping from the Hogwarts train, they find a friend who never went to Hogwarts in one Delphi, who claims to be a niece of the aged and crotchety Amos Diggory, and then all kinds of trouble breaks loose, as the fate of the world is found to depend on Neville Longbottom in such a way that means that Cedric Diggory must die.  Of course, there are plenty of nightmares about the scar that help fill in the gaps of Harry’s childhood and the hurting scar means that Voldemort is back, and this time he has a daughter that will stop at nothing to keep her father from being destroyed, even if that means becoming a murderer herself.  As far as plays go, this is definitely a dramatic one and the part one cliffhanger is an excellent one.

There are at least a few reasons to appreciate this story, aside from the fact that it makes for a good adventure yarn that opens the Harry Potter universe to the next generation in an effective way and helps overcome old grudges, allowing Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy to show some respect for each other as friends and allies, and showing at least a hint that the Weasley family’s growing dominance in the Wizanganot has paid off with Harry in charge of Magical Law Enforcement and Hermoine as Minister of Magic, with Rose being the object of Scorpius’ affection.  A celebration of friendship and love, with deep resonance involving parents and children, this is a play that will have people reflecting on the power of fathers, whether present or absent.  For all of its concerns with changing time, the play itself deals with timeless subjects and simultaneously shows itself to be a worthy expansion of the existing Harry Potter story into a new genre, even if the book itself is more of a skeletal framework than has been the case previously for the series.  Of course, if you like this, you might enjoy the screenplay to the upcoming Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them film, which should hopefully come out soon.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/07/07/book-review-if-harry-potter-ran-general-electric/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/05/28/book-review-god-the-devil-harry-potter/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/book-review-the-ultimate-harry-potter-philosophy/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/book-review-what-will-happen-in-harry-potter-7/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/harry-potter-and-the-problem-of-interfaith-marriages/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/09/20/book-review-fantastic-beasts-where-to-find-them/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/09/08/book-review-the-sorcerers-companion/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/08/29/book-review-quidditch-through-the-ages/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/book-review-readings-on-j-k-rowling/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/book-review-the-tales-of-beedle-the-bard/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/dumbledore-utilitarianism-and-original-sin/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/07/15/how-long-until-the-wizanganot-becomes-the-weasleyganot/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/07/15/something-of-gryffindors-and-ravenclaws/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/03/20/book-review-eight-plays/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/02/06/book-review-the-new-art-of-writing-plays/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/02/06/book-review-ibsen-a-collection-of-critical-essays/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/12/12/book-review-papa-tell-us-about-the-bible/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/contested-legitimacy-in-lope-de-vegas-fuente-ovejuna/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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9 Responses to Book Review: Harry Potter And The Cursed Child: Parts One And Two

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