Children's Literature · Modern Fantasy · Review

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

Harry Potter and the Cursed ChildSeries: Harry Potter, #8

Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books

Pub. Date: 2016

Genre: Fantasy, Play Script

Pages: 319

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Peer pressure in the Harry Potter fandom demands that I run to buy anything that J.K. Rowling writes, but I decided that I did not want to buy Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I learned after trying to read The Casual Vacancy that I do not like everything that Rowling has written, so I was wary that the world would be different in a bad way. I didn’t buy it the day it came out because I realized the play was written by Jack Thorne. So, I put myself on the waitlist. I finally finished reading the play, and this is my review. Throughout this review, I will do my best to remember that this is a script, not another novel. Please note that I have not seen the production, so I can only imagine how it looks on stage. This is going to be a longer review than normal.

I wonder how all of the magic could be achieved on stage, like binding spells, violent bookshelves and invisibility cloaks. I assume it looks awesome on stage, but the logistics are not clear in the script. That should probably be chalked up to specific things, like an actor’s ability to make a character real.

Surface-Level Issues

For surface-level issues, I examined appearance and general script structure. Most plays I have read have the character list at the front rather than the back. That list also does not briefly describe the characters.

Previously, I wrote about this script in how it works with the rest of the series: adding a script to a series of novels and adding authors to the series. Though I know the author can do or say whatever she wants, I’m having trouble treating this as canon.

I have heard people oohing and ah-ing about one scene that cameos a dead favorite. I would have loved it had the message actually been passed along. Then again, the message has no importance to the plot. There is no hint of the magic that J.K. Rowling creates with her stories. It is not as interwoven as it should be.

Characters

The first issue I have with characters is the character list. Most plays I have read place their character lists at the front rather than the back. The list in this script does not briefly describe the characters. They have no description, and that makes me wonder if non-rehearsal editions give those descriptions.

trolley-witch
The Trolley Witch. Image from Harry Potter Wiki.

There are old (I mean should-be-dead-in-the-grave old) characters and new characters. Of the old characters, I am most concerned about the Trolley Witch and Amos Diggory. For series development, we learn more about this minor character and gain some development. The major problem is that her history and purpose are not believable. She is bad-ass, but her life story is too good to be true. Considering that wizard life expectancy is longer than a Muggle’s, I find it unlikely that she has been alive as long as she claims. She turns into a robotic-like monster, using the snacks as weaponry. (She’s been feeding children Pumpkin Pasty grenades for years?!) Alanna Bennett covers it better in her reaction to the character.

Amos Diggory appears a few times, and he is the catalyst for the whole adventure. Nearly thirty years after his son’s death, he is a bitter, old man who blames Harry for Cedric’s death. But that does not fit his series character. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry tells Amos what happened to Cedric and tries to give him the prize winnings from the Tournament. Amos refused the winnings, which were given to the Weasley twins, and assured Harry that he did not the Boy Who Lived for Cedric’s murder. A wise man if you ask me. Did the playwright miss this little detail, or did he only watch the movie? If we entertain that Amos had reason to become resentful of Harry all these years later, what caused him to suddenly despise Harry for his son’s death? Did Delphi twist his mind?

I am somewhat disappointed by Ron and Hermione being flat characters, but this story does not star them in the way the other books have. I cannot see how they would work as round characters, as I explained on a general level in my post, “When Beloved Round Characters Become Flat.” The only thing I question is Ron running the joke shop. It doesn’t fit, and I don’t remember that in the Epilogue of Book Seven.

I cannot say that there is no character development, but most of it is not believable. The two obvious characters that develop are Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy. Albus sort of learns that his father is not some comic book hero that makes his life hard, but that development first went too slow and then too fast. But he is self-absorbed to a fault, which is good for development but bad for me liking him. Perhaps this looks better on stage, but I do not have much hope that it is.

Scorpius is the most developed character, and it shows in the writing. Scorpius deals more with ridiculous and cruel rumors and learns to stand up for himself. There are a lot of moments where we see a real human being in Scorpius that was not achieved in the other characters. He develops, he jokes, he has a crush, and he has quirks.

Harry, Harry, Harry.

Harry is not believably the man portrayed in this book. I don’t see how Harry could have ever reached a point where he would say such hurtful things to his child. The behavior and words do not match. He has weird obsessions that come from nowhere. The blanket he was wrapped in before Voldie waltzed in to kill him and his parents? What? I know he wants memorabilia, but that never seemed to qualify.

Delphi is a hole of evil with little development.

Summary

At the end of the day, I do not want to own the script. If I see it at a used book sale for a few dollars, I might buy it, but I do not like it enough for first-price. I still struggle with seeing it as canon. I probably will not read it again either, but I would like to see it performed. If we can’t have it performed on a live stage in the U.S., can someone film it? This is achievable without movie magic making the magic. The play is meant to be performed, so it would be nice to know if it is truly good in its visual format.

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3 thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

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