Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne.
(Published July 2016).
*This is not a spoiler free review*
I hear there are mixed feelings and I fully understand where any disappointment might come from. When I bought the book I readied myself for disappointment. I knew it was going to be different from the previous books since Cursed Child isn’t a novel but a script, since it isn’t written only by J.K. Rowling but by two other people as well, since it picks up nineteen years after the trio left Hogwarts and they are now adults and parents, and since this story is mostly about children we know very little about (Albus, Scorpius, Rose, etc.). But if you ready yourself for something completely different I don’t think you’ll be very disappointed by this book. I loved it and devoured it within a few hours.
The script style was something I had to get used to for a few pages, but the book had already won me over at page 16. The page with the bombshell about Voldemort maybe having a son and that son maybe being Scorpius Malfoy. The page with Rose Weasley telling Scorpius: “It’s probably rubbish. I mean . . . look, you’ve got a nose.” (Rose is definitely Ron’s. Definitely). So early on in this book I was already both going ‘wait WHAT?!’ and snorting.
Almost all of the familiar characters have changed a bit. This felt weird at first, but then you realize that they’re all nineteen years older and their lives have changed massively. The trio are parents, they’re struggling with different things now. Harry is Head of Magical Law Enforcement and has a difficult relationship with his son Albus, Hermione has become Minister of Magic, and Ron… well, Ron is still very much Ron, actually. He’s still the lovable idiot, the joker.
As the story unfolds, Albus starts struggling more and more, both at Hogwarts and at home, with Harry. The more horrible both Albus and Harry felt (add to this Harry’s worries about a possible return of Voldemort), the more frustrated I became that neither father nor son had the common sense to walk into the Headmistress’s office and have a talk with Dumbledore’s portrait. Because really, who you gonna call in times of trouble? Dumbledore, obviously.
I have always loved Dumbledore as a character and he became my absolute favourite character after Deathly Hallows. I have also always loved Harry and Dumbledore’s relationship. That mentor/pupil thing. That father/son thing (or grandfather/grandson thing). So you can imagine how extremely pleased I was that Harry did finally talk to Dumbledore’s portrait. Twice, actually, though the first time wasn’t that special and even felt a little off. But their second conversation was everything to me.
Harry to Dumbledore: “[..] And I have proved as bad a father to him as you were to me.”
Dumbledore to Harry: “[…] Of course I loved you… and I knew that it would happen all over again… that were I loved, I would cause irreparable damage… I am no fit person to love… I have never loved without causing harm…“ […] “I was blind. That is what love does. I couldn’t see that you needed to hear that this closed-up, tricky, dangerous old man… loved you…”
Harry: “I loved you too, Dumbledore.”
I mean, excuse me while I go cry in a corner over these two. Harry saw Dumbledore as a father figure. They loved each other. I need a moment.
(One last thing about Dumbledore: the phrase ‘thank Merlin’ changed into ‘thank Dumbledore’ and that made me smile).
Anyway, back to the plot. I liked how the story showed two alternate realities. The first being one in which Hermione isn’t Minister of Magic but DADA teacher at Hogwarts (and somehow turned into Snape-lite, like wut?!) and Ron isn’t married to Hermione but to Padma Patil.
The second alternate reality shows a horibble universe with Voldemort still at large, Harry dead, Umbridge as Headmistress, people saying goodbye to each other with the phrase ‘For Voldemort and Valour’ and Muggleborns being tortured in the dungeons of Hogwarts. This reality also shows Ron, Hermione, and Snape as rebels.
Like in the first alternate reality, Ron and Hermione aren’t married which provides for a very cute and funny moment between the two in the ‘actual’ reality.
Ron: “I can’t get over it really. That in some realities we aren’t even, you know, married.”
Ron: “I mean, we’ve been together so long – and married for so long – I mean, so long-“
Hermione: “If this is your way of saying you want a marital break Ron, then, to be clear, I will skewer you with this quill.”
Ron: “Shut up. Will you shut up for once? I want to do one of those marriage renewal things I’ve read about. Marriage renewal. What do you think?”
Hermione: “You want to marry me again?”
Ron: “Well, we were only young when we did it the first time and I got very drunk and – well, to be honest, I can’t remember much of it and… the truth is – I love you Hermione Granger – and whatever time says – I’d like the opportunity to say so in front of lots of other people. Again. Sober.”
I was always neutral when it came to Romione. I wasn’t against the ship, but I wasn’t a shipper either, yet this moment made me melt.
The Slytherins in this book steal the show, really. Scorpius is a gem. What a great boy. Draco has become a much better person, a caring father, a grieving husband, a friend to Harry. Albus has his issues, but tries to help and make things right. And Snape- when he made his entrance in this book I had a little moment realizing that if they were to make this story into a film, they would have to re-cast Snape and I just- Nope. No. No, no, no.
After Deathly Hallows I softened up to Snape, but I always remained in the ‘why on earth did Harry think it was right to name his son after him?’-camp. But Cursed Child made me soften up to Snape even more, because in the second alternate reality he really acts like a decent person with feelings, like a hero… and he even provides for some comedic relief.
Hermione: “And – Snape? What does Snape do in this other world?”
Snape: “I’m dead, presumably.”
Snape to Scorpius: “You were a little too surprised to see me. How?”
Snape: “How very irritating.”
Snape: “Sometimes costs are made to be borne. […] I didn’t just quote Dumbledore, did I?”
I don’t know about you, but I heard Alan Rickman deliver those lines in my head and it gave me so many feelings.
Later Snape says he’s proud Albus Severus carries his name and he sacrifices himself by getting his soul sucked out by a dementor. Part of me thinks that J.K. decided to include all of this about Snape to show people like me that he was definitely worthy of Harry naming his child after him. That he was actually a good person, a hero. The fact that he said: “I couldn’t save Harry for Lily. So now I give my allegiance to the cause she believed in. And it’s possible – that along the way I started believing in it myself.” means everything. Okay J.K., you win, he’s worthy.
Oh, and about the bombshell plot. It turns out Scorpius isn’t Voldemort’s son… but Voldemort did have a daughter with Bellatrix Lestrange. I don’t know if anyone else saw images in their minds of Voldemort and Bellatrix creating this child, but I did and it wasn’t pretty. It’s very strange to think about Voldemort having a daughter, mostly because I always saw Voldemort as an asexual being. I’m not sure how I feel about it, but it did make for an interesting and unexpected storyline, so I guess I’m okay with it.
I’m a little disappointed that Teddy Lupin wasn’t included in this story and that Neville was only mentioned by others but never played a part in the story himself. But it was a pleasure reuniting with so many beloved characters, from Harry to Dumbledore, and from Draco to Snape.
Even though it was different from the first seven books, it still felt like coming home to me. Everything about this book, from holding it in my hands for the first time to finishing the last page, made me feel very sentimental and nostalgic. I know that sounds dramatic, but I’m sure most Potterheads understand the feeling.
“The stories we love best do live in us forever, so whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” -J.K. Rowling
4.5 out of 5 stars.
This review was originally written in August 2016 and can also be found on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1716486362