Harry Potter and The Cursed Child by Jack Thorne, John Tiffany & J.K Rowling ~Goodreads~
Published by Little Brown UK 2016
Hardback edition 343 pages ~Book Depository~
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.
I think like any Harry Potter fan I was excited for new material from the world I’ve grown up with. However, learning that it was a screenplay didn’t phase me but more the reason of the play not being written solely by J.K herself. For that reason this was one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever had to write. I have a lot of mixed emotions regarding the story and the way it’s written, and at no surprise I’m not alone. Reading other reviews after finishing the play myself, I felt relieved that I wasn’t alone in what I was thinking. What I have to consider though is that this isn’t a Harry Potter book, it is a play and a play that other writers have contributed to. I’ve given the play a generous four star rating because it wasn’t mind blowing, but it wasn’t a complete disappointment either. The only reason if I gave it a lower rating than this would solely be on the writing and not the plot, the plot was what made me keep reading.
My immediate feeling when reading this play was “this reads like fan-fiction” and it does. I’m not tainting that at all, I love fan-fiction and its a lot of fun to read but it was certainly unexpected. As biased and cruel as this sounds, it is a tad obvious from the style of writing that J.K did not write this. The story may be all her own, but the writing just hasn’t got her touch. Understandably, this is a play and not a book so the detail isn’t there but stage directions. I get that, but it became more obvious that this is fan-fiction as I read on.
The plot centres around Harry’s youngest son Albus and his best friend Scorpius who happens to be Draco Malfoy’s son. Anyhow they go on a journey together to try and change time to save Cedric Diggory, but not all goes to plan. Amongst this we see how Harry deals with married life and being a father to his children, something that appears to be a struggle at times with Harry. We see Albus feeling overshadowed by his Dad, and the expectations upon him are more than he can handle. The plot was fun and exciting, a great concept which I can follow and wasn’t ridiculous.
My problem with this play is the writing and importantly, how my best loved characters were portrayed. A lot of the actions the characters were taking were so unlike how I believe they would act. For example, Ron was trying to be funny but it was the kind of funny that makes your toes curl. It was cringey and quite hard to read, for me Ron is sarcastic in his humour and this was missed. I could go on with the other characters that I felt weren’t who they’re supposed to be but this review would go on for a lot longer than planned. This is the main reason why this play reads as fan-fiction, and it’s a shame but nonetheless it is written by two other writers and therefore they’re not in J.K’s head/mindset of how these characters are. Only J.K knows her characters inside out, and I’m surprised she didn’t have more involvement with this.
Like some things in life we can have too much of a good thing. We’re spoilt with such an amazing thing that has changed our lives in lots of different ways, and then we want more and more. Sadly sometimes, asking for more only leads to the great thing becoming diluted unfortunately. This is how I felt when finishing Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, I had perhaps too high expectations without considering how differently it would be with other fellow authors throwing their ideas in the mix. I will never say never with anything involving Harry Potter because I’m a fan and of course I’m going to be interested in what else is produced from a fictional world I adore, but perhaps next time I will take a step back and not put it on such a high pedestal.
Unlike some people I don’t believe this was a money making stint, let’s face it she’s never going to be hard up for cash for the rest of her life. I think it was brave of her to let her baby (Harry Potter) into someone else’s hands, and allow it to be explored by other writers. I personally couldn’t do that because I would scrap it all and say I’ll do it myself, so I can’t fault her for that. I just think its a shame that she didn’t have more involvement to make this play have the J.K esque that it was so desperately missing. I look forward to what else the world of Harry Potter has in store for me.