Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling and some other people (all right, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne)

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Harry_Potter_and_the_Cursed_Child_Special_Rehearsal_Edition_Book_CoverHarry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling and some other people (all right, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne)
Levine, 2016.

Being a bit of a purist, I hadn’t intended to read this, but we saw it at a bookstore while we were on holiday and thought we’d give it a go. I’m glad I read it, and though it’s not got the meat of the Canon, it’s really very good, and an entertaining way of spending time.

Taking off from the Epilogue in The Deathly Harrows, The Cursed Child is centered on Harry Potter’s middle son, Albus Severus, who is something of a misfit in the Potter family, signaled by the other two kids being named after Harry’s parents. Albus is sorted into Slytherin and, rebelling against the weight of the Potter name, he befriends Scorpius Malfoy who is rumored to actually be the son of Voldemort.

A lot of the play is concerned with father-son relationships. As well as Harry and Draco, Amos Diggory appears as a loving father, still grieving over the loss of Cedric. So when Harry, in a fit of pique tells Albus that there are times when he wishes that he wasn’t his son, Albus decides to set right a part of Harry’s past and, along with Scorpius and Delphi, Amos’s niece, uses a stolen time turner to restage the Triwizard tournament so that Cedric doesn’t go into the graveyard with Harry. However, their efforts have unintended consequences.

It was good to see Hermione, Ron, and Harry (and their different iterations in the time-changed portions) as well as other familiar characters from the Canon. We have hundreds of pages of backstory on these people and this world, so the playwright is fortunate to be able to shorthand it all. Ms Rowling’s plotting and character creating skills shine, and Albus and Scorpius, and their friendship, are an exciting addition to the Hogwarts realm. But we also have the comfort of being with people we know and love, and even references to scenes from books that are part of our collective psyche.

We are, tonally, back in the world of the earlier books – there are only a few glimpses of the darkness and desperation of the much more complex and ambiguous later books. And, unlike Deathly Hallows, there is never any doubt how the play will end, though it does so with some good twists along the way.

However, this is a play not a novel, and though the stage directions (which seem remarkably complicated in places) and dialogue drive the story along, there is a lack of depth that comes from not being in any of the characters’ heads. Of course, actors will presumably bring that element, but as I’m not likely to see the play anytime soon, this is all I have to go on.

So it’s not really the 8th book, and it’s a play script not a novel, but I was engrossed by the story telling skills of Ms Rowling, the writing of the other two fellows lucky enough to be involved, and the glimpse into the future of a world I thought was finished.

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