Saturday, August 6, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne | Rating: ★★★★★

Like most fans, I had marked down my calendar for July 31st, 2016. Although I had known ahead of time that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child wasn’t a book, instead it was a script, and that a great deal of the story itself wasn’t penned by J.K. Rowling, I was so thrilled to be having a new Harry Potter story nine years after the final book was released. How could we not be? This was our childhood. Hogwarts is our home. Because of all the spoilers that had leaked to Twitter upon the plays previews, I had low expectations from the start and I think that is why I loved (yes, loved) The Cursed Child as much as I do.

Far from my favorite release in the series, The Cursed Child is every bit as darkly magical as the previous seven full-length-novels. It took me back to my childhood. It reminded me what it was like to be so bloody excited for a book release, I barely nodded off whilst reading it and stayed up far later than I’d normally. There was something in it being the first Harry Potter story to have purchased with my own money, as many people from my generation have expressed. Midnight release parties, Freeform’s beloved Harry Potter Weekend and more played out to the tune of my weekend during its release date.

I felt younger again. I felt happy. You know that feeling, right? Tingling in your veins as you finally get your hands on a physical copy of something you love. Most of us hadn’t felt it since 2007–and I can’t explain how wonderful the sensation was after being from it for so long. My review would have come sooner but as I don’t have a laptop (still) and I couldn’t articulate what it was I wanted to say, here we are almost a week after its release.


Better late than never? Anyways. Let’s tackle the flaws first. There are a lot in the plot, but for the most part, it’s a highly enjoyable tale. Simple and to the point. I’m sure the fact that it’s a script makes it easier for readers, or more difficult (that depends on who you ask) and I will say there’s a lot of things that felt… well, off. These flaws and questions (Delphi’s childhood, the logic behind it, all that time travel, Harry’s behavior towards Albus and more) can be quite distracting for the fans. I get where they’re coming from, really I do, but no work is without flaws and if you choose to not want to read The Cursed Child, no one will blame you.

Just don’t let yourself ruin the original series. This play, this script and new take on a now-middle aged Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy, doesn’t hold that power. I repeat: it doesn’t ruin the series. You’re only psyching yourself out in that regard and if you love it, you’ll hold onto it and just pretend this eighth story isn’t around.

Each fan who enjoy the story, each fan who finds their head canons damaged a bit by this new tale, each fan who doesn’t–you have the choice to not let it ruin something you love. So, please, hear me out: Stop acting like you have to love it or you have to hate it or you have to acknowledge it.

It’s okay.
It’s okay to love it.
It’s okay to hate it.

That being said… I was pretty excited to see a context to all those spoilers that came out and found that while some of these things deeply upset or confused me, reading them and seeing what leads into them made them into something much better than I thought. I know a lot of people are throwing hissy fits about Harry’s treatment towards his son, Albus, but here’s the thing guys–it’s not in black and white. It’s not okay how either of them acted towards each other.

Harry Potter, the boy who lived through so much, isn’t always going to take the rational route. When has he ever? With his upbringing, with all that is in the past, he isn’t always going to do or say the right thing. It’s frustrating but understandable.

And the most important thing was that he tried. He tried to set it right. He tried to repair things. The Cursed Child was about change and mistakes and how to right our wrongs. Can’t you see that? Harry made a lot of piss poor judgments in the original series and still does so because that’s part of being a god damned person.

Even wizards.

Get it?

It's part of humanity. It's part of living.

But Harry Potter knows how to get a grip, even if it takes him a while to get there. He is no longer a boy, but sometimes our childish reactions stay with us. And that was just another point–that and to emphasize that he and his son, Albus, are incredibly alike.

That being said–I love Albus and the fact that he was sorted into Slytherin! I loved his friendship with Scorpius. I thought that the dynamic was interesting and new but still had this nostalgic quality to it, like the friendships Harry had with Ron and Hermione (which are still, thankfully, intact) and I loved seeing the differences of Draco and Scorpius. Scorpius isn’t at all like the Malfoys we’d seen in the series, thus making the family a bit more… I don’t know how to explain it, really, but it was just great seeing a Malfoy not be vilified.

(Even if people are, naturally, suspicious of him and there are malicious rumours which follow him about his parentage.)

Scorpius is a precious cupcake, basically. I also thought that it was great to see in spite of how much has changed, how Draco has adapted into adulthood, how Harry has grown, the past is easy to fall into. I liked seeing Harry and Draco together in scenes, both as the grown men that they are, and seeing them clash only to eventually work together. I loved that Hermione is the Minster for Magic and there's this scene where everyone is at her side: Harry, Ginny, Ron, Draco. I finally saw how interesting that dynamic would/could be and it was just a great addition to the entire story.

I also liked the alternate universes. How one action can change everything. How terrible the world could have been. It held a lot of devastation on different levels and I just thought it was fascinating. In particular, I loved the world in which that complete cow Umbridge was around, Voldemort ruled and Severus Snap, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley were all around as a rebellion. I hated it for obvious reasons but still found it highly interesting to see this world and what would have happened had the war not been won in the good guys favor. It made my skin crawl, you know?

Although time travel is outdone and a bit all over the place, I enjoyed it.

I thought that some of the rules regarding it were a bit lax and nonsensical but it was still a decent plotline. Minus the scene in Godric’s Hollow when Harry was just a baby and well, we know what happened that October when Harry was orphaned–it was awful seeing this scene again, from a different angle with a much more tragic vibe to it if you can imagine such a thing.

To avoid spoilers for those who haven’t read, I will say you need your tissues handy or else you may literally drown in your own tears. I'm surprised the ink in my book didn't smudge because I was straight up crying and am still getting a bit emotional over thinking about it.

As for everything... I do wish it had been a full length novel and I do think that seeing the play performed on stage, or adapted in some other way, would make the story itself translate better. I hope one day they release a film based upon it or just record a performance of the stage production. I do think that it captured the magic wonderfully and that the flaws are far and wide but it doesn't take away from it for me, personally.

Overall, I thought it was solid.

Perhaps my least favorite set in the wizarding world it still is a lot more fun than it’s given credit for. I loved the reveal of the main villain, I loved the time travel bits and all the familiar faces. There’s one scene in particular between Harry and Dumbledore’s painting that stuck with me and I found myself a little surprised at the trio being, well, adults.

Bonus comment: how cute is Uncle Ron with Lily?

Bonus complaint: needs more Weasley kids and Teddy. 

Second bonus complaint: need origin story for Delphi, stat!

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