Written by: JK Rowling, Jack Thorne, & John Tiffany
Book #8 / 8 of the Harry Potter series
Rating: 3.5 / 5 stars
Summary: 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.
Review: IT. IS. HERE. It has almost been a decade since I’ve read an entirely new book about my favorite literary universe, and that is too long. I was one of the people who, spare a few deaths, was immensely happy with how JK ended the original series… but I also wanted more. For years I wondered, how can it be that easy? How can all evil just cease to exist? There has to be more! And so wonderfully, JK proved that there was.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child follows Harry and Ginny’s middle child, Albus, as he begins his time at Hogwarts. He has the same concerns as most Hogwarts students: which house he’ll be sorted into, if he’ll make friends, if his father’s shadow is really too large and will cover up his own legacy – but maybe that’s just a Potter issue. Following his father’s footsteps, he quickly meets the boy who will become his best friend on the Hogwarts Express. This boy is none other than Scorpius Malfoy, the spawn of Draco – and so begins the story of what has amazingly become one of my top five favorite characters in the Potter universe. Scorpious is every bit as sassy as his father, but with more intelligence and a purely good heart that makes him almost unrecognizable as a Malfoy descendant. As time progresses, Albus becomes more and more unhappy, every bit his father as his angst increases exponentially with time, to the point where he decides that he needs to make a name for himself and prove to his father that he is worth more than anyone believes him to be.
I was really excited for the story to be similar to the style of Harry’s story – the hijinks at Hogwarts, maybe some Quidditch scenes, and then some awesome fight at the end. Basically, I wanted to be transported back to Hogwarts. Unfortunately, I got only one of those three things, and it left me wanting a little more for sure. I understand that it’s written in a play format so there’s not a ton of room for character or scenic development, but those were two of my favorite things about Rowling’s books. Additionally, you can clearly tell Rowling didn’t write the majority of the story herself; the whole premise of the book is that they time travel like crazy into various moments of the past, greatly altering the future which – throwback to Prisoner of Azkaban – wouldn’t actually happen. They spend most of the book in the scenes from Rowling’s series, which just felt like a lazy way to create a plot line to me. When people say this reads as fan fiction, I kind of agree – like the fan fiction that inserts characters into poignant scenes that already existed in the fandom, just to give their character that extra perspective and edge on the scene. All in all, the premise of the book is actually pretty interesting, but by the time it all goes to a point, it’s relatively anticlimactic and ends considerably abruptly. I wish that it was a new series on its own – not because I’m greedy or need more Harry Potter in my life (although that is certainly true), but because I felt it’s a plot line that could be developed a lot further.
Some people begged for more of the original characters, and while I loved seeing how much Draco’s marriage and child had changed him, and the evolution of Hermione and Ron’s relationship, I think too much of the play was focused on Harry, still. Anybody who knows me knows that I think Harry is one of the most exhausting fictional characters I’ve ever read about, but his story is so incredible that I just deal with him. I was really looking forward to this book being more about the kids, but I’m pretty sure the other two Potter children have two lines each the entire book, and I don’t think Hugo Granger-Weasley has a single one. Like I said, I enjoyed Scorpius thoroughly, but even Albus was underdeveloped as a character. If you had asked me about one character quirk or specific interest that Albus had, I wouldn’t be able to tell you, and considering that I suppose he was meant to be the main character, that’s a little concerning. Beyond all this, the only original characters that were brought back that I think were written properly were Ron and possibly Hermione. McGonagall and Ginny are depicted in more than one scene as weak; Dumbledore (via portrait form) is labile and straight-forward with his thoughts; Snape (via a memory) is more blatantly trusting and kind than he ever was; and *HUGE SPOILER* the fact that Voldemort apparently impregnated Bellatrix right before the Battle of Hogwarts was literally the worst idea ever. Again, it really did read like a bad fanfiction, where someone warped the characters to fit a plot line and failed. It’s not the fact that Voldemort supposedly had a daughter that bothered me; it was the way by which it happened that did.
All in all, saying this book left me wanting more is a bit of an understatement. Although I did not feel like any hole except certain characters’ deaths (R.I.P Fred, Remus, Tonks) was left in me form the original series, and that mostly all of my dire questions were answered, I still looked forward to hearing more about the Potter universe. I religiously read every piece of additional information Rowling posts on Pottermore, and I frequently re-read the series and other Potter books like Fantastic Beasts just to relieve in that era of magic. But my expectations for this book was that it would be like a mixture between the two – not quite a Harry Potter novel, but also not quite a small book with little character development. It was, in theory, fitting to this expectation, but it didn’t seem like Rowling didn’t read it at all before putting her name on it, and that is what upsets me. I was expecting Rowling-caliber writing, and was left sorely disappointed. I still look forward to eventually seeing this enacted on a play, as I feel I will enjoy it more thoroughly when I see the stage’s sets, but to say that this book has earned the title of “The Eighth Harry Potter Book” is an injustice to say the least.