As the 1st Secretary to the Harry Potter Society at the University of Worcester and the Head of Ravenclaw, it was my duty to read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child when it was released on the 31st July 2016 (the birthdays of both Harry Potter and J K Rowling herself). As well as my duty, it was also something I was eager to do and I carried out the task within 24 hours of getting my hands on the book.
Unlike the previous seven books, the Cursed Child didn’t follow the typical novel format and is actually the script of the West End production. Unsurprisingly, millions of fans across the world were awaiting the last day of July and the arrival of this addition to the Harry Potter story. By August 3rd, it had already broken records to become the fastest selling book this decade.
It was always going to be a tough task to create something that would satisfy the fans waiting for a Harry Potter follow up story. Many years have passed since the release of Deathly Hallows, a book which gave us an insight into the lives of the characters nineteen years later. During this time many fans have had the chance to imagine their own futures for Harry, Ron, Hermione and their families. Any new fiction published after this time risked clashing with some of the theories created. So, despite the euphoria surrounding new Harry Potter content, it wasn’t going to please everyone.
The Cursed Child starts well enough and it’s pleasing to see Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy become friends. The script then skips forward over their first three years at Hogwarts, a time which fans would have loved to see in more detail. As for what happens next, it all become a bit unrealistic. Yes, I realise the Wizarding World is fantasy to begin with, but existing Harry Potter material has brought it to life. The Cursed Child follows a storyline which doesn’t seem to fit with what we know about the Wizarding World and its characters – it can be read as an alternative universe that doesn’t exist within the Wizarding World as we know it.
This is also found in the way it is formatted – as it is written as a script, it doesn’t feel like a real part of the Potter story. Unexpectedly, I did enjoyed reading it in this format – all dialogue was well written and the basic stage direction meant I could imagine it just as well as I can imagine the books. Saying that, it’s a good thing that it was only made as a script and West End show – if this story was released as an eighth novel, it would have caused much more disappointment…
- Voldemort had a child!? This seems entirely unrealistic – I’m sure his ego would have prevented him from allowing an heir to outlive him and run the Wizarding World with Dark Magic. That was his fight and I doubt he liked the idea of it happening without him. I think he may also have been hesitant to have a child out of love, as that was how he was born (and it didn’t exactly work out well).
- Draco Malfoy turns out to have a time-turner, even though they were all destroyed after the Battle of Hogwarts? I suspect Malfoy Manor, and the homes of all other death-eaters, were the first places the ministry looked for such objects.
- What was great about the story though, was that Albus was sorted into Slytherin. Although it seemed he didn’t want to be, in that more modern time being sorted into Slytherin wouldn’t necessarily be such a bad thing – with less Dark Magic in the Wizarding World, maybe all Hogwarts houses are good.
- The story also brought a good dose of Draco Malfoy in a way we haven’t seen him before. A change from the angry schoolboy he was, he is now sad and mourning the loss of his wife, while trying to connect with his son. While still not getting on swimmingly with the golden trio, they do manage to join forces and save their sons.
- For more points, take a read of this Buzzfeed post.
I’m still unsure whether it was worth making, but I am yet to see the stage play. It was nice to catch up with the old characters and get to know Albus and Scorpius better (although James Potter was mostly absent throughout, and it would have been nice to hear from the rest of the Weasley family and Teddy Lupin), but the storyline is so far-fetched that it doesn’t seem worthy of being part of Harry’s story. Despite its demand, I now think there was no need for extra HP material – Deathly Hallows ended well enough to give fans enough satisfaction.
JK Rowling has since said that this is the end for Harry Potter and his story. I think I’m actually glad about that.