Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – parts one and two

Based on an original new story by J.K.Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

A new play by Jack Thorne

Reviewed By

Chloe Evans || August 19th

 

Being a Potter fanatic, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was like a blessing for me, I started the book open to the idea that it was going to be entirely different than the original collection, the last of which was released in 2007. Over the years I’ve found that books or films written such a long time after the originals can be quite disappointing, the build-up you get can often leads to an anticlimax and then you enjoy the new story less and less, constantly comparing to the previous; this isn’t the case with the Cursed Child, far from it.

Whenever there was a rumour that a new HP book was being released and the idea that it involved his children, I always jumped to the conclusion that there would be a new baddie trying to fill Voldemort’s boots, three friends that go off to tackle it with Harry’s son being the main character and the front of the brigade, new faces and new battles, but possibly a similar story. Act one – scene one is set in Kings Cross Station, an infamous and familiar setting for all Potter fans, but also the introduction to a group of characters that we’ve only ever met in our dreams until now, James Sirius, Albus Severus, and Lily Luna Potter, Rose Granger and Scorpius Malfoy.

James, a wind up merchant, reminded me very much of whom he is named after, he seems cocky, independent, confident and possibly even a little bit arrogant - "everything comes easy for James". Lily, a caring and eager young girl who shows her nature early on when running towards Ron, Hermione and their daughter Rose at the station in excitement to exchange hugs and ‘lame tricks’. Albus, portrayed as the black sheep of the family, quiet, thoughtful, scared of being placed in Slytherin and burdened by his family legacy, and best friends with Harry’s old nemesis’s son, Scorpius Malfoy, an exceedingly clever and more kind hearted member of the Malfoy family who’s seemingly taken his Fathers looks but not traits, early on we see he develops a crush on Rose Granger who begins her journey to Hogwarts by hoping her family history will prove to be the start of her own popularity and tries but fails to keep Albus and Scorpius apart when looking for a carriage on the Hogwarts Express.

I’m a Granger-Weasley, you’re a Potter – everyone will want to be friends with us, we’ve got the pick of anyone we want”

The Cursed Child shows the journey of a young wizard who wants to make a difference in the world and bring back ‘the spare’, Cedric Diggory, who we saw tragically die at the Triward Tournament in The Goblet of Fire. 19 years After the Battle of Hogwarts, life seems to have returned to a more peaceful time and Voldemort is long but a distant memory. The ambitions of being heroic take a dangerous and sinister turn and take us to alternate timelines where Voldemort won the battle, dementors cover the earth, the much hated Dolores Umbridge is still the headmistress at Hogwarts and Harry Potter is dead.

 

In the Philosopher’s Stone we see Harry and Ron meet and Harry purchases the entire contents of the Trolley Witches stock, in The Cursed Child we see a beautifully familiar scene in which Albus claims he only stays with Scorpius for his sweets, and the friendship blossoms from there. Personally I think that this encounter was so apt, despite some of the more judgemental views from other publishers. It develops throughout the book that Albus’s relationship with his Father is extremely rocky, I feel that this is because he feels such strain from the pressure of living up to his Fathers fame and his personality differs so much from his siblings he feels that his place in the family does not live up to expectation. For me, Scorpius and Albus meeting in the way in which they did showed to me there was a more underlying reason as to why; Harry and Albus aren’t as different as they both may think and this really gave me hope throughout the book that they would rekindle.

This kind of identity uncertainty is something I feel sets the Cursed Child out from the rest of the books, I feel that previous characters, even though they may have had difficulties growing up, always seemed very certain of who they are, this really made Albus and Scorpius stand out as their feelings and personalities seem so real. When the boys meet Delphi, I was entirely blinded by the idea that they were creating a new, infamous threesome that would challenge even the friendship of Harry, Ron and Hermione, only to be thrown back to the earth over the course of the book. This turn of events really took me by surprise and made me remember why we love the Harry Potter books so dearly.

The Cursed Child takes us through a whirlwind of emotion and I only wish that it was longer so I could enjoy it more. I’m not ashamed to say that this book has made me cry more than once and I’ve even gone back to read it again. My ultimate scene was the return of Snape in the alternate timeline. The death of Alan Rickman was one of the most heart-breaking deaths of my time; his return was so tear wrenchingly wonderful that I don’t think there could be a more beautiful tribute to a magical man and his second death in the Harry Potter books even more heroic and momentous than the first. Helping Scorpius change back the timeline to bring Harry back to life, knowing it would mean his life would come to an untimely death at the Battle of Hogwarts, he sacrificed himself, not before saying one of the most beautiful lines we’ve heard from Snape – ‘Tell Albus – tell Albus Severous – I’m proud he carries my name’, moments after his soul is sucked from him whilst his Patronus, Lily’s doe, ‘turns to him, with beautiful eyes and disappears’. The Cursed Child really showed so much more depth into Snape than any of the other books did, even after donating his memories to Harry I feel that now we see just that bit more.

One thing to remember with this book is, unlike the previous, it is a play script and not a novel. It only took me a few scenes to get used to this idea, and for the story itself is very complimentary. We can jump from scene to scene with ease from being in the Slytherin dorms to the Ministry Of Magic in a flick of a page, the story still runs seamlessly through your mind and also allows you to easily jump back to an important act without losing your place, something I know I really appreciate when indulging into a good book. One thing that you do miss from this style of writing is detail. Something I always truly loved about Harry Potter was the fight scenes, the descriptions, the suspense and wonderful writing style that Rowling possesses. Though not all of that is lost, it has to be remembered that a script is the written text for a play or film; it would come with visuals when being executed. In parts, especially towards the end, I do wish that there was a novel version of the Cursed Child so I could fully feel like I was there in the end fight, but, for now I feel content with the script and it is definitely up in the ranks with one of my favourite books.