Harry Potter and The Cursed Child
Okay, we all know what this is, so let’s cut to the chase. Fear not: the spoiler section will be clearly marked.
I binged all 7 Harry Potter books in the month or so before I turned 12, back in the summer of 2009. I loved it for the same reasons everyone does, yes, and I was already a little Hermione. But the most influence it had on me was one of appreciation: I read a few analyses of it, such as The Deathly Hallows Lectures by John Granger, a fortunate gift from my childhood best friend, where I learned all about literary alchemy, how Rowling drew from Jane Austen, how her use of third person limited allowed her to misdirect readers, and I reread the series and could see how masterful her plotting was. Oh, and there were plenty of great jokes.
So while Harry Potter influenced my reading and writing life and the way I engaged with what I read, I wouldn’t call myself part of the “fandom,” and I’m rarely concerned with the what-could-have-beens.
When this book was announced, my reaction was basically: “Oh, it’s that play they’re doing–why didn’t I realize they would probably release it?” I’d been reading plays in school, after all. And, frankly, for me Harry Potter didn’t need more novels, nor should Rowling write them if she really doesn’t have her heart in it, so I was all for reading this different format.
[Also, it seems popular now to say “J.K. Rowling didn’t write this!” but I don’t think that’s entirely accurate. Yes, she might not have written every line of dialogue and probably not the, and she didn’t, but she worked to come up with the story…if there’s something I’ve learned from TV shows, it’s that it’s almost impossible to tell who was responsible for what, and I think it’s a fruitless endeavor. The biggest thing that may have led to the issues with the plot is probably that it was put together in much less time than Rowling spent planning her books.]
To me, this play is a celebration of Harry Potter–not a conclusion, not exactly an eighth story, and it read that way. Beloved characters are there in some form, and there are so many callbacks to the original series and characters that one begins to wonder if the story is about Harry, Albus, or it’s just one big team-up.
The places where I enjoyed Cursed Child were the character moments, which to me is the other reason this exists in the first place. There are some great exchanges from characters new and old, and they’re really the highlight (along with, I’m sure, the special effects on stage). As someone often more invested in character than plot, I liked those aspects.
Overall, though? It wasn’t a bad binge read, it was an interesting experiment, and I don’t think I care enough about this particular book to feel cheated or a strong dislike.
The Spoilery Section
You have been warned.
So, time travel. Harry Potter is actually responsible for sparking my interest in the subject, as I read a chapter in Harry Potter and Philosophy (encouraged by my philosophy professor father) that explained how the time travel in Prisoner of Azkaban was according to the B-theory of time, where the past, present, and future are all equally real and so nothing can truly be “changed.” As many have pointed out, The Cursed Child doesn’t subscribe to this, as many things change (the A-theory). And yet, I couldn’t properly get worked up about this because it seemed like a pretty good argument for why the B-theory is superior for storytelling and you shouldn’t change time…
I haven’t really read the series recently enough to comment on Bellatrix’s pregnancy, but it did ring funny to me. What actually bothered me the most about Delphi was that Albus was apparently attracted to her… (and yes, the whole Albus/Scorpius thing had a lot of queerbaiting).