“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
Author: Jack Thorne
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction, Play
Read on… the living room couch on a lazy Sunday afternoon while the boyfriend played Legend of Zelda in the background.
Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Publisher: Little Brown
Publication Date: July 31, 2016 (the anniversary of Harry Potter’s birthday)
Purchase your copy here.
Review: 4 out of 5 Dogwoods
Like many others in my generation, I had the privilege and the pleasure of growing up alongside Harry Potter. I was in sixth or seventh grade when I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and I was in college by the time Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released to conclude the series. From midnight book releases to midnight film releases, Harry Potter was a defining element of my childhood.
J. K. Rowling’s magical seven-volume Harry Potter series is the ultimate bildungsroman, tracing that young wizard’s coming of age, as he not only battles evil but also struggles to come to terms with the responsibilities, losses and burdens of adulthood. In the course of those books, we see a plucky schoolboy, torn by adolescent doubts and confusions, grow into an epic hero, kin to King Arthur, Luke Skywalker and Spider-Man. “Review: ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ Explores the Power of Time, Michiko Kakutani, New York Times August 1, 2016.
Now, in a play set 20 years after the conclusion of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we get to see Harry Potter as a father, see how his teenage son Albus copes with the overwhelming expectations that come with having a famous father, and see how Harry Potter has settled into working as a civil servant at the Ministry of Magic. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the coming of age journey of Harry’s son Albus and the roles he and his best friend, Scorpius (Draco Malfoy’s son), play when dark forces once again threaten the fate of the world.
This book version of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the script of the hit play that just opened in London, and even though it lacks the play’s much-talked-about special effects, it turns out to be a compelling, stay-up-all-night read.
It is important to note, however, that the entire story was not written by J.K. Rowling. J.K. Rowling had a concept and original story in mind while playwright Jack Thorne outlined the story, wrote the script, and John Tiffany directed the play. The play picks up where the last novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2007) left off, and it flashes forward to Albus’s later years at Hogwarts.
As is true when reading the novels, the suspense in this script is electric and nonstop, and it has been cleverly constructed around new events which are reminiscent of and recall events in the original Harry Potter novels. As a bonus, fans are also given a scattering of new insights into our classic characters such as Harry, Dumbledore, and Voldemort, among others.
The young characters, Albus Severus Potter, Harry and Ginny’s second child, and Scorpius Malfoy, Draco’s son, are the centerpiece of the play, and their friendship is reminiscent of our original trio, Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Scorpius’s character is very well fleshed out, and Albus is reminiscent of what Harry was like when he was young; reckless, headstrong, and high on adrenaline.
A central theme to the Harry Potter novels is the power of time – Harry’s understanding of Voldemort and himself involved excursions into the past throughout the entire Harry Potter series. The same is true of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. In the Harry Potter novels, journeys in time or space were aided by wondrous devices like the Pensieve, the Portkey, and a Time-Turner. In Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, we once again see the use of a Time-Turner, similar to the one Hermione used in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Here, a Time-Turner is used with consequences that will remind some readers of the movie “Back to the Future,” and others of the classic Ray Bradbury story “A Sound of Thunder,” in which a careless time traveler journeys to the days of the dinosaurs and accidentally steps on a butterfly, thereby altering the rest of time. “Review: ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ Explores the Power of Time, Michiko Kakutani, New York Times August 1, 2016.
In the case of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, it is not giving away too much of the plot of the play to simply recall Dumbledore’s warning words in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: “The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.” And time travel, in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, affords its audience the possibility of imagining ominous alternate futures.
I personally loved reading this script. I could not give it a full five dogwood review simply because it lacked what I am sure you gain with a live performance of the play; more detail and context. I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in one sitting and I felt the joy we all feel every time we open a Harry Potter novel; it is the feeling of joy that you get when you return home after being away for a long time. After all, it was J.K. Rowling who stated “Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” Now, the same is true of the play, whether you read the script or witness it performed in person.