Book Reviews

The Cursed Child – J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

The eighth instalment that was set to either divide the fandom or bring it together once more, like Dumbledore’s Army we waited patiently for the next time our Queen would stand up and say “I’m writing Harry Potter again.” And this time she wasn’t alone, teaming up with John Tiffany and Jack Thorne many hoped this golden trio would be able to write the magic once more. All we knew is that it is set nineteen years after the battle of Hogwarts and will be written as a script to be performed in London.

I sat down after buying the book and dived in. Like many I have followed Harry Potter since it was released and have been to the studio tour in London a couple of times. Having studied performing arts and creative writing I knew how to read a script, or at least how to read it as a normal book in my head. For those who haven’t they may have struggled but, it’s worth remembering that scripts do have their merits. The dialogue must be precise as that is almost the only way of communicating with the audience and the stage directions are not really for the reader, but for the performer on stage. You can be the director as you read; with limited description you can let the story unfold exactly how you picture the characters. And finally there is action. Action as well as dialogue propels the plot forward in script. Something is always happening on the stage.

And now I shall move onto the book itself. I’m going to start with the exterior. The book is beautifully presented, the dust jacket containing the image of the young boy in the snitch pictured outside of the Palace Theatre must be breath taking in person and I can’t wait for the day I see it.

It begins where we left of at Kings Cross Station leading to Platform 9 ¾ with Albus Severus Potter going to Hogwarts for the first time, a daunting thought for many but more so for Albus, son of the great wizard Harry Potter. Rose seems at peace with the title she inherits, as a “Granger-Weasley” she is known as much as the Potters. Of course he and Scorpius Malfoy hit it off and there begins what some people, Harry included, believe to be the start of Albus’s problems.

Bullying, isolation and dissolving friendships are issues that we have been introduced to in the previous books but not to this extent. The outcast of the Potter family, Albus is shunned not only by the student body but also by his family. It begins to dawn on the reader that for all of the magic in the world in one of the most magical places these issues will still arise. All three of the authors have handled the subject brilliantly. We see Albus go through those troublesome teenage years as a teenager, not as the boy who lived. With the threat of Voldemort’s return lightly kissing every page we see Harry push his son further away, unable to understand why he isn’t like him. The weight of his legacy pushes down on Albus to the point of breaking; being named after two of the most incredible wizards will do that to you.  The one thing I would have liked to have read is how life was when Albus was younger. It becomes clear that Harry has never really understood his son while Albus feels like he cannot escape his father’s shadow. Being a script this possibly isn’t the best place to reveal this information but I would very much like to see a page on Pottermore at some point. As the issues of the father pour down onto the son we are lead through an extraordinary journey as Albus tries to rewrite the wrongs of the past and finally take a step out of his father’s shadow.

Part one of the script is predominantly setting up and establishing character before arriving at its dramatic conclusion. Albus and Scorpio are obvious friends from their first meeting and I’m glad that the authors decided to pursue this friendship. The continuing feud between Harry and Malfoy does, at times, seem rather childish and I wish it didn’t take the events of this book for them to finally evaluate their “friendship.” Ron and Hermione (although mostly Ron) take a back seat in this book, only being present when absolutely needed. This gives Albus the room to grow into his own character and for readers to understand that this isn’t necessarily their story. I won’t reveal any spoilers as I believe people should read the script or see the show. What I will say is that old characters are revived and new characters are introduced bringing about a worrying possibility.

Part two broke my heart. All of the emotional energy from part two acts like a tribute to characters that are no longer here which left me welling up. Part two, Act three- Scene five. Snape. He’s there. I won’t say how but I will say J.K. Rowling has managed to capture the essence of Snape once more and almost left me in tears by Part two, Act three – Scene nine. All I could think of was his beautiful voice and I do not envy the person chosen to play him in the production. Snape has and always will be Alan Rickman. Dumbledore makes his return in the Hogwarts painting and him and Harry finally discuss their unusual relationship to one another, a scene which I’m sure would leave the theatre in tears.

I now need to see this in production; not only for the story and the beloved character but to see how they have managed to pull this off. The transition sequences seem complicated yet I know when I do see it I am going to be filled with awe throughout the scene changes and hope that I am able to memorise it all.

I’m going to try and round it up now without giving away a lot of the plot which hopefully I haven’t. It was an emotional rollercoaster as we see life through Albus’s, Harry’s and Scorpio’s eyes, the turbulent teenage years to the depressing paperwork job at the Ministry. The original trio have grown in ways which are hard to believe and while I was wish I could have seen that this story does more than enough to quell my thirst for the wizarding world. I could go on for pages and pages about this book but I won’t. It does the original books proud and J.K. Rowling was right, this story is meant for the stage.


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