So, I tore through Harry Potter and the Cursed Child last night. Spoiler-free review/rant follows.
Let’s get the positives off first: Jo has a brilliant, BRILLIANT mind and she’s used it to conjure up a fantastic book. The plot is as gripping as any of the original seven’s. Twists and alliances are unexpected, the story will keep you tearing through the pages and there are familiar – extremely familiar – traces of the trademark Potter hotheadedness strewn generously across the volume. There are the usual halls and haunts, there’s McGonagall, loveable as ever, and there are, obviously, more recurring characters, but we’re only told about them. Told, not shown. And I’m not completely okay with that.
I have a feeling I’m going to harp on this in a number of different ways: the script format is not for me (for the uninitiated: The Cursed Child is a play; this book is the rehearsal script).
Is it for you? Let’s see.
Had you seen Ron’s face in your mind as he stammered while telling Hermione how he’d heard her voice while running from snatchers in book 7? Did you see Dobby’s orb-like eyes when he woke Harry up with the gillyweed in book 4? Were you a hundred percent there – heart suddenly calm, hopes re-instilled and glowing warmly again -- when Dumbledore looked at us under the invisibility cloak and promised help to anyone at Hogwarts who asked for it? Did you share Hagrid’s annoyance at having revealed Fluffy’s secret in the first book?
Did you feel Harry’s pain a thousand different times? Wince as Snape blasted Dumbledore off the astronomy tower? Did you cry? Did you (secretly, horribly) enjoy Dudley’s discomfort every summer when Harry went to his muggle shelter?
If you did, you’re going to have issues with this book.
My other complaint would be the lack of a worthy villain. This is a well-crafted story; the historical details sit accurately within the narrative of the actual series, but it’s all somehow too tame, in a way that’s not different from The Dark Night Rises. (I was SO disappointed with Bane). You may find yourself emerging from the other end of the book rather... underwhelmed.
That said, though, the Cursed Child obviously scores on the nostalgia card. Who that has loved Hogwarts can resist another trip to its halls and classrooms and tournaments? (Read the book to find out if that’s literally true, heh)
But instead of really being in there, as we were for a decade, looking into Harry’s mind, walking with the trio across the grounds, swimming through the lake, stomping across Hogsmeade, sitting with them as they drank their butterbeers and ate their candy and played exploding snap, this time around, we’re stuck in the cheap seats. If I weren’t joyous at the mere thought of having read another book from the Harry Potter universe, I’d be annoyed. But I’m not. You can’t not read this if you’ve loved Harry. This is, after all, the only bit of magic we get to hold on to.
From HT Brunch, August 4, 2016
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