I’ll be honest, I’ll forever be disappointed that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child isn’t a novel, but instead a screenplay. I won’t complain too much though, because it’s a new Harry Potter story and its a wonderful story. First and foremost, this book is a story about a son, Albus Severus, coming to terms with the legacy of his father, Harry Potter, and coping with its inevitable impact on his life. It’s a coming of age story, and a story of the relationship between father and son.
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 be keeping this review relatively short, as I don’t want to reveal too much about this much anticipated new release.
Albus Severus is not his father. He doesn’t like Quidditch. He’s made unfavourable friends. He doesn’t excel in his studies. Every move is scrutinized for a likeness to Harry Potter. And Albus Severus starts to resent that everything he does is compared to the famous Harry Potter, because he simply isn’t him. This core motivation to Albus Severus’ actions is very understandable – who hasn’t felt resentment at not living up to their parents’, or the public’s, expectations?
Inevitably, Albus Severus seeks out glory and redemption with his best friend, Scorpius, in the form of rebellion and an illegal time-turner. He feels that in order to change his present and future, he must first change the past, altering not only his own life, but the legacy of Harry Potter. As Albus Severus navigates the past, past characters, discarded as spares and side characters, come into play, highlighting the importance of every human life.
At the same time, Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione and Malfoy struggle with the responsibilities afforded to them by their jobs and by their children (especially their children, who have all entered the entertaining point in their lives called adolescence). For some, however, the past is more difficult to leave behind than others. Malfoy struggles with the legacy of his parents and his own decisions during Voldemort’s reign, and the impact that has had on Scorpius’ life, especially surrounding rumours of his parentage. Meanwhile, Harry continues, as he always has, to struggle with his fame, his fears and his guilt – the Boy Who Lived, while so many others died.
What I Liked:
- Albus Severus and Scorpius were very enjoyable characters, and their friendship was reminiscent of Harry, Ron and Hermione.
- Draco Malfoy. I didn’t think I’d like his character (old grudges, right?), but I actually found his dedication as a father and his refusal to back down very endearing and engaging. He was, for the most part, a better father to Scorpius than Harry was to Albus Severus, although he too had his short-comings, making him utterly human.
What I Didn’t Like:
- I’d be a liar if I didn’t include my general dislike for the format of this book (aka the screenplay format) in this. I, like basically everyone, wanted another novel, not a screenplay. It made for a choppy read, which detracted slightly from the story. In addition, there just wasn’t enough description, resulting in pretty sub-par world and character building.
- Ron. His character was just too goofy, and as a result his “performance” in the story was simply lack luster. He certainly isn’t the Ron readers remember, and it was wholly disappointing to read about his character.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was both everything readers wanted and everything readers didn’t want from this eighth story. It was another Harry Potter story (yay), with enjoyable and human main characters, who make the story pleasant to read and engaging. However, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child wasn’t the novel fans wanted – it was a screenplay – and the portrayal of the Potter generation was simply disappointing, with the exception of Malfoy. Overall, it’s definitely worth a read for dedicated Potter fans, but don’t expect too much from this relatively simply screenplay.