Thursday, August 25, 2016

Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

Surely everyone who wants to has read this latest entry into the Harry Potter canon by now, right? I actually allowed the two of my children who were interested in it to read it before I did because I was a little ambivalent about the whole thing. With the releases of the last few books, I packed up my then young children and carted them to the midnight launches so they could experience the magic for themselves. But with this one, I didn't really care about the midnight launch, and not just because my children are now older and less awed by such things. I didn't know what to expect and felt as if I had been happy enough with where the Deathly Hallows left the characters and the world. I'll admit the format of the book gave me pause as well. I have never particularly enjoyed reading scripts, firmly believing that their nuances are only showcased in performance and not on the page. But when you are thousands of miles from anywhere the performance can be viewed, you make do. And so I read this. I don't regret it, and maybe there was no way around it, but I was left a little bit underwhelmed. It was fine. It was fine. But I've come to expect magical and this wasn't that.

When I say that this wasn't as magical, I'm not referring to actual magic being performed in the story but about the feeling it gave the reader. The originals were delightful and enchanting while this was a much darker, melancholy feeling read. There were some interesting parallels between young Albus Severus and young Harry in their desire to right wrongs, in their loyalty to a friend, and in their discomfort with unearned fame. These parallels do neatly tie this to the original series but not in the way of a normal sequel. The exploration of the parent child relationship between Harry and Albus was, at times, difficult to read as Harry clearly floundered with this sensitive child. But if Harry as father isn't all the reader could have hoped, the portrayals of the other adults in the novel are hard too. They are underdeveloped and oftentimes nothing but buffoons, still stuck in their own immature school personas.

SPOILER (highlight the below chunk of white in order to read the spoiler)

But the biggest beef I had with the story revolves around two plot threads. First, I find it completely and totally unbelievably out of character to posit the idea that Voldemort would ever have been close enough, even just physically, to anyone to have sired a child. Although Bellatrix would have been the logical witch upon which to get his spawn, he didn't like or trust anyone enough to be that close to him when he would be vulnerable. His character just wasn't drawn that way. Secondly, I don't love alternate histories and so the idea of continually jumping back and forth in time was not all that appealing to me. And the final jump back to Godric's Hollow felt like just one more time for Harry to make things right, to honor sacrifice, and then to make his own for the good of the Wizarding World. But we already knew all this about Harry's character and this felt like a redux, like an unnecessary addition.


I didn't necessarily want more of Harry Potter but if we were going to go back to that world, and what a world it was, I would have liked the same magical, not melancholy, feel and a stronger connection to the ethos of the other books. Over all it was fine. It was adequate. But it didn't rise to the level of special I would have liked. If you haven't already, read it yourself and let me know what you think. And if you've been lucky enough to see it, let me know if the translation to the stage imbues it with some of what I think is missing on the page.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I just don't feel the need to read this, although I read all 7 novels.


I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

Popular Posts