Today’s review is coming to you a bit late, because I finished this book so fast and then got wrapped up in my next book. For my second book of the year, I thought I’d stick with the Harry Potter theme.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne
This book is actually a play, based on a new short story. Nineteen years after the last Harry Potter book, Harry and his friends are back, with kids and careers in tow. Harry and Hermione work for the Ministry of Magic and Ron runs the Weasley joke shop. Hermione and Ron are married with kids. Harry and Ginny are married with kids. And all the kids are headed off to Hogwarts.
The story follows the misadventures of Harry’s son, Albus, and Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius (which I think is a terrible name for the poor child). Albus is seemingly nothing like Harry and with such a high standard to live up to, he thinks he always falls short. In what I believe is his absurd effort to prove himself to his dad, he and his friend Scorpius insert themselves into their own epic adventures, which may have dire consequences.
Tiny spoiler alert:
They are trying to change the course of history by going back in time. I’ll leave it at that. What they naively don’t realize is that events in the past have a ripple effect. You can’t change one thing without setting everything else on a different path.
I really enjoyed this play. Hence, I read it in less than 24 hours. But hey- didn’t you all read every Harry Potter book in a day? This one isn’t nearly as thick.
What I loved most was diving back into the magical world that J. K. Rowling is so good at creating. Even without 700 pages of descriptive paragraphs like in a novel, she is able to bring the details of this world to the mind’s eye so easily. I forget that Hogwarts isn’t a real place when I’m reading these books.
And even though this one takes place 19 years later, introduces new characters, and isn’t even a novel, I was still drawn into the storyline as if I’d never stopped reading the series.
It was difficult at first to reconcile the words and actions of this Harry Potter from Harry Potter the student, though. I had to keep reminding myself that they were grown up, almost 40 years old, and that people change so the characters had to change. Harry is trying to be more responsible and parental, Hermione is trying to be the career woman, Ron is trying to be the cool dad. But the story isn’t about them.
As a character, Albus is a bit hard to warm up to. He is moody and temperamental and frustrating. I wanted him to love Hogwarts as much as I did, to be good at his spells and to stand out like his dad. But that’s not who he is, and both Albus and I had to come to terms with that.
I don’t think the play did quite as good of a job characterizing Scorpius. There’s background there, for sure, but his personality doesn’t stand out. I couldn’t tell if he was going to be good or bad. From the moment Albus and Scorpius meet, I thought he seemed ambiguous and I wanted more from him.
This book seemed to have some moral lessons wrapped up in the old comforts of the wizarding world. There are lessons about parenting and friendship and bravery. And there’s an old adage tucked in there that all things happen for a reason, even if you’re not sure what that is yet. Sometimes the lessons were a little too overt. But overall, it was cute, if only to remind us that we all have flaws and lessons left to learn.
If you love(d) Harry Potter in any way, you’ll like this book. Five stars.