Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Review of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" by J.K. Rowling




This eighth book in the Harry Potter series is the script of a play that originally opened in London's West End in 2016. The play harks back to occurrences in the original series so the reader needs to be familiar with those books to fully appreciate the story.

"Cursed Child" opens 19 years after Lord Voldemort's defeat. By now, Hermione is Minister for Magic; Ron runs Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes; Harry is Head of Magical Law Enforcement; and Ginny is a sports writer for The Daily Prophet.

Harry and Ginny's middle child, Albus Severus Potter, is starting his first year at Hogwarts and - against all odds - is put into Slytherin. Albus becomes best friends with his fellow Slytherin, Scorpius Malfoy - the son of Draco and his wife Astoria.

Ron and Hermione's daughter, Rose Granger-Weasley is also a first year student at Hogwarts, placed into Gryffindor. Rose disapproves of her cousin Albus hanging out with Scorpius because she associates Scorpius with death eaters, and thinks he's a sketchy guy.

Jump ahead three years and Albus, Scorpius, and Rose are about to begin their third year at Hogwarts. Rose fits in very well at the school, where she's popular and a good Quidditch player. Albus and Scorpius, however, are having a rough time: Albus because he feels pressured by being the son of 'famous Harry Potter', with whom he has a very fractious relationship; and Scorpius because rumors abound that he's really the son of Lord Voldemort. In addition, Scorpius is grieving from the recent loss of his mother. Albus and Scorpius are on the edge of rebellion and have a strong desire to prove themselves - and Albus knows just what to do.

While he was home for the previous summer break, Albus overheard some things. First, contrary to the belief that all the Time-Turners were destroyed during the 'Battle of the Department of Mysteries', Harry recently confiscated an illegal one.....and Hermione hid it at the Ministry of Magic. Second, Amos Diggory - having heard a rumor about the Time-Turner - dropped in on the Potters. He implored Harry to go back in time and save his son Cedric, who was killed by Lord Voldemort after he was a co-winner (with Harrry) of the Triwizard Tournament. Harry strongly denied he had a Time-Turner and Amos went away mad, accompanied by his niece/caretaker Delphi.

So.....Albus and Scorpius hatch a plan while they're traveling to school on the Hogwarts Express. They jump off the train, team up with Delphi, and steal the Time-Turner from Hermione's office via clever use of polyjuice potion. The boys then go back in time to make sure Cedric doesn't win the Triwizard Tournament - which presumably will save his life. Of course any diddling with the past reverberates through the future, and the boys' machinations have massive - and unfortunate - results. The boys try to go back and fix things - several times - but end up making everything worse.

Meanwhile, Harry, Ginny, and Draco are informed that their sons aren't at school, and form an uneasy alliance to find the boys - assisted by Ron and Hermione. This is a very 'grown-up' development considering the previous animosity (to put it mildly) between Draco and Harry. The play is realistic in its depiction of difficult family dynamics: Harry (try as he might) can't seem to connect with Albus, who feels like odd man out in his famous/gifted family. And Draco, though he's a loving father, appears to be on a different wavelenth from his boy Scorpius - who's a gentle, unassuming lad. (He should probably be a Hufflepuff.... LOL.) Scorpius even has a crush on Rose, which is a sweet, amusing touch.

And that's about all I can say about the plot without spoilers.

Many characters from the original series make an appearance - including dementors - and it was fun to see them. (Well.....the dementors aren't that much fun .....)

I'm a huge Harry Potter fan and I enjoyed the play. The plot is clever, the characters are smart, and there's a nice surprise twist. That said, the story, which was conceived by J.K. Rowling and written by Jack Thorne, lacks the depth, breadth, an ingenuity of the original books. Partly, this is because a play is less detailed than a novel, but also because it doesn't have Rowling's 'touch' (IMO).

Also, the characters' repeated trips to the past give the play a repetitious vibe. When I compare this work to the screenplay 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them', which Rowling wrote herself, I find that 'Fantastic Beasts' is more artful and entertaining.

Still, I highly recommend 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' to fans of the series. If you're a Potterphile, it's a must read!

(Note: I just love the name 'Scorpius'.....It's inspired!)

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