Harry Potter and the Cursed Child came out this week and on the back of the hardback cover the book proclaims itself, ‘The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.’ Sorry, but it’s not.
Now I am a MASSIVE Harry Potter fan. I remember my parents reading the first book to me and I remember reading Chamber of Secrets under the covers at night, terrified of young Tom Riddle and the basilisk. I wrote my own stories based off this incredible fantasy world- which I now realise was a bizarre early form of fanfiction. Rest assured the slightly more ‘mature’ themes you’ll see in HP fanfiction found in the dark crevices of tumblr were not present. I spent around 8 hours at the Harry Potter Studio Tour when I visited last year. If you’ll allow me a moment to be cheesy and sappy: Harry Potter was a huge part of my childhood and it means a lot to me.
So when I heard that Cursed Child was to be released, I was of course pretty excited. However I knew it was a script and that it wasn’t actually written completely by JK Rowling herself. I know that she has worked closely on it with John Tiffany and Jack Thorne, and that she is fully supportive of both the play and the book. Now that its out, I have heard some pretty lacklustre reviews and some people seem disappointed.
I went in with low expectations. Sequels are often shit and can end up tarnishing your love of the original. For example: the last season of Scrubs. Sorry Dave Franco, but no thank you.
Knowing that its a script, not an actual book, and that it isn’t going to be the eighth book primed me to not want too much. Initially, it felt like a bizarre parody of Harry Potter. All the familiar characters and places were there but it wasn’t quite right. Then it got into its stride and the humour I’ve always loved about Harry Potter shined through. It even had a couple of Dumbledore-esque quotes to set your moral compass on the right path.
It also tied up a few loose ends and confirmed some fan theories, which I loved. Please note – here come the spoilers:
1. Scorpius and Albus being friends. Albus Potter being a Slytherin. House Prejudice is ridiculous and Slytherin doesn’t automatically equal evil.
2. Scorpius Malfoy being sweet, gentle and nerdy. Also I found it hilarious that he fancies Rose- I would love to see Ron’s reaction.
3. Draco Malfoy being a real person, not just dismissed as a snot-nosed Death Eater. The fact that the Golden Trio actually called him ‘Draco’ made me happy.
4. Albus’ character, especially his struggles with living up to the Potter name. It was realistic.
5. Ron’s humour was still there and cracked me up several times.
6. Dumbledore’s dubious actions back in the day were addressed. Harry’s anger at being left in an abusive home with the Dursleys is so justfied. I think that scene in his office will be electric on stage.
7. I’m not a massive fan of Snape (aka the original ‘poor me I’m in the friend zone and its her fault she doesn’t love me’ asshole) but I liked that he was working with Hermione and Ron in another reality.
Overall, I am keen to see the play (if I can afford to get tickets without having to sell a few key possessions.) I’m really happy that its been published, as those of us who don’t live in London can enjoy the play without seeing it.
Its not the eighth Harry Potter book, but I wouldn’t want it to be. Any attempts to market it as that should be abandoned – go in expecting a nostalgic read and you’ll enjoy it.