Humble Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I must admit, I was pretty late to get on the Harry Potter bandwagon, having only started the series when I was 25. I missed out on all the hype that had been generated from the public with each successive release until the supposed final book ,Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Imagine my surprise when I recently visited a random store, and on the shelves was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, supposedly the eighth book in the series, if you believe GoodReads. Yet again, the hype had eluded me.

Well, there’s a good reason – this is not really a continuation of the series in the traditional sense. This is the Rehearsal Script Edition of a West End play with the same title, penned by Jack Thorne, John Tiffany, and J.K. Rowling herself.

The story of the play revolves around one of Harry’s children, Albus Severus Potter, who is now old enough to attend Hogwarts. He finds a friend in Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius, and the two of them try to come to terms with being outcasts. Soon, they find themselves in trouble after trying to prevent an untimely death. Harry, who finds that being a good parent is his most difficult challenge yet, counts on his own friends to save his son, and the damaged relationship with him.This book is difficult to judge, since it isn’t technically a book at all. Being a rehearsal script, you only get the dialogue of each character, and a few sentences describing the scene or major actions within it. You don’t get the subtle nuances of style, the creative metaphors, or the larger painted world in your mind. Therefore, this format only works if you know the characters and settings already, which is precisely why it has only been seen for a series as popular as Harry Potter.

The story itself is okay, with a good mix of fresh and returning characters. It moves at a lightning pace, which can be expected from a script format. The choices of Albus and Scorpuis have weight, and greatly influence the events from the past books. Arguably, the main point of the book is to show the life of Harry as a parent, and his struggles with a normal life as a parent, which is dealt with relatively well.

Unfortunately, what this ultimately feels like, is a dabble at fan-fiction for a beloved series. The characters feel a bit two-dimensional due to the script’s restrictive format. Of course, it would be much better to watch the actual play than to read the script, to make up for this gap.

If people go into this, thinking it is the 8th Harry Potter book like GoodReads portrays it, they will be disappointed. To avoid this, if possible, it would be much better to go and see the play for yourself.