Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows I love Harry Potter. It’s one of my all-time favorite reads and I recommend it to everyone (I’m currently trying to get my niece and nephew hooked!). So, when I heard that J.K. Rowling was giving us another chapter to the story – by way of the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – I was ecstatic! I mean, you don’t spend your honeymoon in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Orlando if you only kinda like the story. I pre-ordered the book, yelled at Amazon when it came after the release date, and snuggled up with my copy, ready for more magic.
Maybe, I built it up in my head a bit too much.
The story felt very good news/bad news to me. Overall, I will say I didn’t not enjoy it (sorry, double negatives make my head hurt but I can’t explain it better than that). It was okay. I enjoyed getting to see the gang again, even though they are now adults with kids of their own. But everything felt a bit off – the tone, the original characters reactions, the sheer number of subplots.
Before I get too far into this, I want to make a big, sweeping statement that influenced the entire experience for me: THIS IS A BOOK OF A PLAY. This isn’t like the rest of the Harry Potter series. It’s meant to be viewed at a play. Think about reading a Shakespeare play and then seeing it on stage. Two VERY different experiences, am I right? It’s an entirely different medium. If you read the screenplay to your favorite movie, I can guarantee you wouldn’t enjoy it as much as watching the film.
That being said, any criticisms I have of the story come from reading a play that is meant to be seen on stage. Those lucky few who have seen the play would probably disagree with me on several points. But this review is only of the book.
I will say there were some aspects I really enjoyed, like the kids of the original characters. They were fantastic, all very well-rounded. There were also a lot of aspects I did not like at all. I don’t want to stop you from reading it – please, read the story and make up your own mind. Some people I’ve spoken with really enjoyed it. I just couldn’t get into it as much as I wanted to.
Now, let’s get to it.
Okay, let’s get the issues I had out of the way first.
There are some pretty big plot holes that were unignorable. For instance, with all the time jumping, things did not accurately change in the present time. Like the logic of trying to make Cedric lose the first challenge of the Triwizard Tournament. If he lost that, he would not have had the golden egg with the clue for the next challenge and would be out. Plus, he couldn’t help Harry figure out how to open the egg for him to figure out the clue. Neither one of them would have made it through the second challenge. By making Cedric lose, it should’ve changed the whole outcome of the tournament – but alas, it didn’t.
Adult Harry, Hermione, and Ron changed in odd ways. Plus, they seemed to lose a lot of logic as they got older. For example, Harry telling Albus that he wished he wasn’t his son and Hermione telling Harry that Albus would realize Harry didn’t mean it. Nope nope nope!
Some of the story elements felt like it was just trying to satisfy complaints about the series – like bringing Dumbledore back and making him seem less cold. But often, these moves weren’t really enough to solve the problem and made them feel like extra baggage for the story. I honestly felt a little patronized.
And finally, the whole arc of Delphi felt way off. I won’t say what since it’s a super spoiler. But I just couldn’t get on board for that.
Now, there were some things I truly loved.
The story does have a lot of familiar elements from the series, like the importance of friendship. It also added in much more of the parenting element with Harry and Albus’ relationship. The story really did hinge on their relationship and (other than the really bonehead move of Harry’s mentioned earlier) I really enjoyed their story. The tension and struggle of a parent and child butting heads was both heartbreaking and relatable.
But my favorite part of the story was the kids – Albus, Scorpius, and Rose. Scorpius was easily my favorite. Actually, the moments when it was just the kids felt the most like the rest of the series. Not just because of their age, but because of the struggles, adventures, and decisions they have to make. And while they felt a bit harkening back to Harry, Ron, and Hermione, they had their own twists to make them stand out all on their own.
All in all, I wanted to like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child so much more than I did, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say it wasn’t a good story. It had some great moments. And I also think it would be much more enjoyable on stage. So if you get the chance, SEE THE PLAY! If not, go into reading the book version with an open mind.