Hello fellow Potter fans!
I am so excited to share my thoughts on the new Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling and company. I feel like this review has been a long time coming. Now that we are finally settling in, I am reading more, and this one was the top of my list. I was so excited to read it and experience the next generation of Harry Potter stories. It did not disappoint.
Because this is a continuation of the incredible Harry Potter series, I thought I would review it in a similar way to how I am reviewing the original series as part of my Harry Potter Marathon 2016. And I want to hear what you think of The Cursed Child! Post your review link or just your thoughts in a comment below
If you have not yet read The Cursed Child…
I would encourage you to read it before reading my (or any) review so you can have your own experience with this new story.
My first experience with this book – Reading The Cursed Child felt like coming home. It reminded me of all my first experiences reading new Harry Potter books–the anticipation of the release, the record breaking sales, the long and late-night reading sessions, and the satisfaction of a great story. It fits well into the Harry Potter canon and is true to the characters and stories of the original series. I was just so happy to read it. My nerdy little fangirl heart was so happy to have another new adventure with Harry and his friends.
What surprised me in this story – It really is a quick read. I think the screenplay genre helped it read quicker. But I also wanted it to last longer. From the very first few scenes, I was surprised by the clever plot twists including Albus’s first experiences at Hogwarts, and Harry, Ron and Hermione’s careers. The way the characters go back in time to pivotal moments and then completely change or leave history to write itself is very interesting (I don’t want to say more here). Also, I love how they incorporate classic characters that have died–Snape is absolutely perfectly written in this story.
A few thoughts on genre – I wasn’t sure what to expect with the screenplay genre. Overall, I enjoyed the change in presenting the story. However, I also think seeing this production live is the best way to experience it (just like watching rather than reading Shakespeare plays is a more complete experience). Several times I missed how a character ended up on stage before they started speaking. Or I wasn’t sure exactly how they disarmed an enemy or overcame dementors because there are not a lot of stage directions. I also thought the lack of depth in the text made the villain a bit simplified. The idea of who the villain is surprised me (I won’t share details here), but it lacked development or sufficient explanation for me. I think in a more traditional novel we could get more backstory. The screenplay genre leaves a lot open for interpretation for directors and actors performing the play (with some rather cheesy stage directions). I can only imagine how amazing that full experience would be–some of those stage directions, especially connected with Voldemort and time travel, sound amazingly scary and awesome.
Who I love most in this book – I really loved Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy in this book. Their friendship is so genuine, and they learn so much through their adventures. I appreciated that their friendship built them up and that they didn’t fall in love with each other. It didn’t need to go that way, and I was glad to see them maintain their friendship without any weird romance. I also loved Snape’s brief scenes in the story because it is so true to his original character. And I really enjoyed seeing Harry, Ron and Hermione as grown ups and as parents. I grew up with those characters and now I am a parent as well. It was neat to see their struggles and efforts in parenting as I begin my own parenting journey. Most surprising, I actually really enjoyed seeing more of Draco Malfoy in this story. We get more backstory on his marriage and family life. I am glad to see Draco has a kind heart and loves his wife and child–but I also like that the old rivalries are hard to overcome.
How I see Harry changing – This book is all about how Harry has changed from the Boy Who Lived to a father and Ministry of Magic official. I enjoy seeing him learning to parent his children and especially the ways he learns to strengthen his relationship with Albus. We see Harry try many different tactics to heal his broken relationship with Albus, and I appreciate the way he has to work to understand Albus. Most of all, I love that Harry is still courageous and willing to do anything for those he loves. He may be older, but he is still our Harry.
What I learn from this book – I love that The Cursed Child forwards the same messages that the original series does. It shows the importance of true friendship in bringing out the best in ourselves and giving us people to fight for and fight with. It teaches that the right kinds of sacrifices are for those we love, not ourselves. Family relationships are strengthened through understanding each other both through loving each other and looking beyond our love for one another. Each of us has light and darkness in us but we can always chose to change our path. And it shows that trying to live in or even to change the past cannot write the best future. It is moving forward from the past that sets us free.
How I would teach this book in a class – Oh the beautiful possibilities for teaching The Cursed Child in a class! It would be fun to do some comparison essays.
- First, I would have students compared the screenplay genre with one book from the original series and how the genres influence the story and action.It would be especially neat to compare reading the screenplay and seeing the play and how those two are similar and different.
- Or, I could have students compare the same character in a single book (I think books 1, 4, or 7 would be interesting) with that same character in The Cursed Child. How does Harry change? Or Professor McGonagall? Or Cedric Diggory? Or Draco Malfoy?
- We could also compare scenes that the character go back in time to visit. A discussion of time and history would be super intriguing from this book. How does time change our perceptions of others and of ourselves? If you could go back in time to fix a perceived wrong, would you do it and why? What do the characters learn about time and about history through their experiences in this book?
- An essay about the way characters have both light and darkness and how they act on those different feelings would be neat–especially if connected with a discussion of the title and its meaning. I was surprised by how the title fit into the story and the different ways the characters found themselves cursed–Harry, Albus, Scorpious, and more.
There are so many great one liners from this screenplay. Here are some of my favorites.
From Scorpious, who is about as big a bookworm as young Hermione.
“The world changes and we change with it. I am better off in this world. But the world is not better. And I don’t want that.”
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, page 193
From Dumbledore–still giving us wisdom after all this time.
“Harry, there is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.”
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, page 258
From Professor McGonagall who is always keeping us in line and will always be at Hogwarts.
“Bravery doesn’t forgive stupidity. Always think. Think what’s possible.”
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, page 201
Perhaps my favorite line in the whole book came from Snape.
“Sometimes costs are made to be borne.
I didn’t just quote Dumbledore, did I?”
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, page 187
It’s hard to think about saying goodbye again to these stories and characters. But then I found out we get more in a short story collection from Rowling coming out this fall! Plus I have the “Fantastic Beasts” movie to look forward to and The Cursed Child coming to the USA (it’s totally bound to happen sooner than later). So there is plenty more Harry to come
Overall, I think this book fits well into the Harry Potter canon, and I really enjoyed reading more about Harry and the other characters I have come to love. Well worth it for the nerdy fan moments and the great story.
Again, I would love to hear your thoughts about The Cursed Child!
What did you think about this 8th Harry Potter story?