Its been a while since I last did a book review and what better way to make a comeback than tackling a new book in the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? The book is basically the script of the much anticipated play by the same name which recently premiered in the UK. The play is actually a collaboration of Harry Potter author JK Rowling, playwright Jack Thorne and stage director John Tiffany.
The story takes place 19 years after Lord Voldemort was defeated at the Battle of Hogwarts and starts at the beginning of the schoolyear for Harry’s middle child Albus Severus, a child who faces the pressure of being the child of the great Harry Potter. Unlike his brother and sister who were sorted into the Gryffindor House like the rest of the family, Albus is cast as a Slytherin and strikes an unlikely but strong friendship with Draco Malfoy’s son Scorpius, who is suffering from a stigma of his own. The two join forces to use an illegally acquired Time Turner to change the past, and the fate of the Wizarding World in the belief that they are righting a wrong long ago committed.
Before the play was released, there were a lot of fan theories going about. Who was the cursed child? Was it Harry or Snape among a slew of suspects. Because of the scarcity of information, it was even unclear if the story would take place before or after the events of the Harry Potter saga. There was plenty of expectation for the play and the book itself and while the play was a certified hit, I don’t think I was blown away by the book.
I loved the idea of seeing what happened to Harry and the gang now that they’re adults and responsible for their own children — Harry and Hermione more than most since Hermione is the Minister for Magic and Harry is head of Magical Law Enforcement. I loved catching up with the Weasleys because Ron has always been my favorite and I adore Ginny up to this day. However, I don’t think I could say the same for Harry’s son the Albus.
Its not that I compared Albus to Harry at any point but his characterization is weak at best. While I understood the reason behind his rebellion, I felt that for the most part, he was being selfish and stubborn and blinded by his issues with his father. His cousin Rose was annoying, period. She shared a lot of Hermione’s qualities but not her charm, but this may be unfair because she didn’t get too much exposure in the book after all.
The bright spot in this story was Scorpius and Draco and their awkward but strong love for one another and their shared love for Draco’s wife Astoria. While Harry was falling apart with worry for his son, it was Draco who stepped up made him see clearly what being a father was all about. He was willing to risk everything for his son and never took his eye off his goal of clearing his son’s name and giving him a chance at a normal life as a wizard. Scorpius was adorable — vulnerable, smart and loyal. He was living proof that being in Slytherin is not tantamount to being evil. I loved the kid.
I also loved Ron being Ron. He never changed one iota.
Perhaps, the book didn’t connect with me in the same way as its predecessors because it was presented as a script and thus lacked the proper setting to establish the scenes and the moods of the characters and the atmosphere as JK Rowling’s books did. But as I read on, I felt there was something missing from the books — the sense of magic and adventure and danger that were part and parcel of the franchise. I felt no sympathy for Albus’ mission because there was no clear goal. I felt bad for Scorpius because for all his profession of friendship, Albus saw him more of a sidekick than an actual friend based on how he treated him. Readers should watch out for his shining moment without Albus after second task.
All in all, I thought Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was not a bad read but because the previous bar was set so high, it hardly measures up to even the weakest book in the franchise. The thing that should be working to its advantage actually accomplished the opposite, and that’s just a bad break for this story that held so much promise at the beginning.