Like millions of people around the world, I completely love Harry Potter. As a child, The Philosopher’s Stone was a welcome distraction from the wretchedness that was moving from Melbourne to Perth (I love you now Perth, I swear). As every new book was released my sister and I would queue up outside our local Dymocks at the crack of dawn, then spend all day curled up in bed eagerly pouring over it. When I finish the seventh book, it felt as if something important in my life had died. The Harry Potter books are special.
So when I found out the eighth Harry Potter story was being released this year, I was beyond excited. I had plans to line up early, grab my copy and then spend a good chunk of the day devouring it just like old times. Then I learned I had a fifteen hour shift on the 31st of July, which kind of ruined that plan, so I had to settle for a late night / early morning binge instead.
So what did I think?
It was totally worth it. Without a doubt. But I do have a couple of misgivings. Here’s a list of the things I loved and didn’t love about The Cursed Child:
What I loved:
Returning to the world of Harry Potter
Nothing will ever quench the excitement of learning a new fact about the Harry Potter universe. Like learning how the Trolley Witch keeps rogue students on board: brilliant!
The Malfoys are easily the most well-rounded and interesting characters in The Cursed Child. The insights we get into Draco and Astoria’s difficulty having a child, Astoria’s death and Draco’s relationship with his son are touching. I also liked Draco’s surprising revelation about him envying the tight friendship Harry, Ron and Hermione shared, showing us that often-unseen ‘human’ side of him.
Draco, whatever you may think-
I always envied them you know – Weasley and Granger. I had –
Crabbe and Goyle
Two lunks who wouldn’t know one end of a broomstick from another. You – the three of you – you shone you know? You like each other. You had fun. I envied you those friendships more than anything else.
Plus friendly little Scorpius is such a delight (anyone else think he should have been sorted into Hufflepuff?). More Scorpius adventures please!
Albus being sorted into Slytherin
A POTTER IN SLYTHERIN?! AMAZING!!!
Albus being sorted into Slytherin and the development of his friendship with Scorpius makes for an incredibly interesting plot twist, and a great starting point for further drama and adventures. Easily my favourite part of the whole play.
A new villain
Given that the heroes of this story are the children of Harry, Ron, Hermione and Draco, I liked that the villain of the story was the child of Voldemort; it has a nice symmetry about it. Delphi was also a pretty entertaining character, and the reveal that she was evil was a complete surprise to me.
What I loved less:
It’s a script
I know I shouldn’t be too saddened by this, as we were all told from the outset The Cursed Child would be a script of the play. But I’m greedy, and the brevity of a script means there just isn’t enough time and space to completely explore new plot points. Amongst other things, I wanted to know loads more about Voldemort and Bellatrix having a child together. Was it love, or was it a strategic move? What did Rodolphus think? And then there’s Delphi. I wanted to learn more about her discovering she is Voldemort’s daughter, and how she spent her years prior to meeting Amos Diggory.
Additionally, unlike a novel a script has a limited set of elements with which to create a story (namely, dialogue and stage directions). This means that reading a script, rather than seeing a play, is always going to be an incomplete experience. I missed being able to read what the characters were thinking, and being able to create a picture of the action from the rich descriptions of it. I’m sure most of these issues would be ameliorated when The Cursed Child is seen on stage; the scene where Hermione’s weaponised books attack Albus, Scorpius and Delphi would be visually spectacular, but seemed a little rushed and clunky in script form.
The return to the Triwizard Tournament
One minute, Albus is a ‘woe-is-me’ Hogwarts student who thinks his father doesn’t understand him. Next minute, after overhearing a conversation between his father and Amos Diggory, he’s concocted a plan to break into the Ministry of Magic, steal the a Time Turner, then go back in time to the Triwizard Tournament to save Cedric Diggory.
Returning to the Triwizard Tournament and the whole ‘Cedric died unnecessarily because of Harry Potter’ thing feels like a bit of a cop-out. Time travel and its unintended impact on the future is one of the most hackneyed plot devices out there, and using so much material from the Goblet of Fire screams of laziness. The Cursed Child centres on a new generation of Hogwarts students who have the capacity to have many new adventures, so why go back and re-hash the old ones? To me, this feels like a real missed opportunity.
I love the Triwizard Tournament as much as the next fan, but if I had wanted to revisit it I would have gone and re-read Book Four where it belongs.
So would I recommend Harry Potter and The Cursed Child? Of course. Any fan of Harry Potter desperate for new material is going to lap this up, and I love the fact they have given those who can’t make it to the show the opportunity to experience the new story for themselves. I just wish they had hadn’t felt the need to go and re-live the past so much.
I’d love to hear what you thought about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Send me a message or comment below and let’s get the debrief started!