(08/1/17) Spoiler free review of The Cursed Child Book

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

Today, on the 8th of January 2017, I am seeing The Cursed Child play. As I write this post in advance to schedule for when I’m away, I’m incredibly excited. I’ll do a review of the play once I see it and mull over my thoughts, but before I do that, here are my thoughts of the screenplay for the play, which I read in September.

Firstly, I was torn about reading it before seeing the play, but it was released at the beginning of August, and by the time I read it in September I’d already seen some slight spoilers online, and thought if I didn’t read it, it would all be ruined for me by the time January comes around.

I had mixed thoughts going into reading this book/play. But I’m definitely glad that I did read it.

I ADORE the Harry Potter books, the movies, the studio tours, everything Harry Potter related you can guarantee I am a fan. And I was super excited for this next installment.

But it’s marketed as the 8th book, and I think if you’re going into it with the mindset that it’s going to be exactly like the original seven books then you’re going to be disappointed. This is not written by J.K. Rowling, and yes, she may have given it her blessing and her support, but it’s not her words, not her original ideas. So be prepared for that.

It’s also not a book. It’s a play script, which took me a long while to get used to the different format. It’s not meant to be read. It’s meant to be seen. And I think that makes all the difference.

The plot itself, well… I enjoyed reading it. But there were some bits I found, shall we say ‘ridiculous’, for want of a better word? There was also the characters, who sometimes didn’t seem like the same characters. But I shall reiterate to you what I reiterated to myself, they are not J.K’s characters. They are other peoples interpretations of those characters and how they would have ended up at 40. That doesn’t necessarily match up with how you’d have thought they would have ended up. Or J.K Rowling’s for that matter.

On a bit of a side note, when reading the end of Deathly Hallows, at the time I didn’t mind the epilogue. It was a nice little fast forward tagged onto the end to nicely tie things up in a bow and end it properly. But recently, I read someone’s opinion that ending the whole series with ‘All was well’ was almost insulting to everyone who had read it and who had imagined their own lives for these characters that they had grown up. It read something along the lines of there were so many options for what happened after the Battle of Hogwarts, in terms of grieving with Fred’s death, and that of Lupin and Tonks and all the others who died. Wouldn’t Harry have suffered some sort of PTSD after, you know, dying? Can you really honestly say that he still wouldn’t have resented Snape, even just a little bit, for all the bullying he did to him and his classmates, for getting Lupin fired – the best DADA teacher they ever had? For a whole MOUND of other reasons that you can’t deny despite your stance on Snape. And Dumbledore? Who used him and lied to him all based on his ‘best guess’ that he would be okay. There are SO MANY different aspects of the story that people have imagined their own version of, or created fan-fiction of, that meant to much to them. People who had abusive parents, or were orphans, who lost brothers or teachers or friends, who had no friends or were bullied. It touched everyone who read the series, with it’s mammoth world and in depth characters, in some many different ways that everyone who read it had a different part or character or message that meant the most to them. And in someways, J.K. erased the therapy Harry would have likely needed after his experiences, and the struggles of Teddy growing up parentless, the heartache of Molly and Arthur, having to look at George and always see the Fred they will never witness grow older, start a family, laugh one more time.

And I know that this is J.K’s story, and she was free to end it how she pleased, and after pouring so much of her life and soul into Harry, she more than anyone probably needed that last line.

But in some ways, this is like that. Did some people imagine that Harry and Ginny split up because Harry was too broken or Ginny in someway blamed him for Fred’s death? Or Ron and Hermione even, because high school romances rarely last until your 40s. Did Harry reconnect with Dudley and they become friends again? Who knows, it’s all up to you to decide how you want to imagine life after Hogwarts, but this play gives you a definite answer, if you choose to look at it that way. If you look at it like the eight book, then yes, it seems concrete in how everyone ends up. But if you look at it as just one of the many, many pieces of Harry Potter fan-fiction that has come about as a result of the books, one that J.K. Rowling herself enjoyed and backed to go on to become a stage play, then all of your own opinions and head cannons can still exist.

So, bearing that in mind, I enjoyed it. And I’m glad I read it before seeing the play. I shall report back on how is translated onto the stage when I’m back from London, because that will make all the difference in how the plot comes across.

Katie

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