I grew up with Harry Potter. I read the first book in primary school when it came out and I was instantly hooked on this series. I bought and read every book as soon as it came out. I remember rereading the series in the lead up to every release date so it would be fresh in my mind and would read all day and stay up late to read as much as possible. I was almost 20 when the last book came out and to me it really was the series that defined my love of reading in my childhood.
So given my fond memories of Harry Potter, I had mixed feelings going into Harry Potter and the Cursed Child* (Parts I and II Special Rehearsal Edition etc etc).
A few years ago (when J.K. Rowling started releasing more Harry Potter related tidbits on social media) I had a discussion with one of my good friends about all these ‘new’ Harry Potter details. We both agreed that we kind of wish Rowling would leave Harry Potter alone and stop eking out these Harry Potter facts. We loved the series, but we loved that it was done, and we very much wanted it to stay done.
Which brings me to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. When I first heard about it I was very apprehensive. Despite wanting Harry Potter to stay finished, I couldn’t not read this ‘addition’ so I dutifully went out on the 31st of July to pick up a copy and sat down when Grace went to bed to read it.
I so badly wanted it to be good and so badly wanted to like it. But I don’t think I did. After having read it (and it’s a quick read, only a few hours) I stood by my earlier convictions that I wish Harry Potter had been left in peace.
And here I’ll add a spoiler note because from here I’m going to discuss some plot points and the why of why I didn’t really like it. So if you haven’t read it and don’t want to be spoiled, look away now.
As soon as I had finished it I messaged my aforementioned friend to discuss it. And not surprisingly she felt the same as I did. We kind of wish this play didn’t exist in the canon of Harry Potter.
My initial reaction when I finished it (and I hate saying this because I love Rowling’s writing) is that it felt like Harry Potter fan fiction, not the Harry Potter that I know and love.
And it wasn’t just that it was a play. There is some interesting dialogue, and I enjoyed reading the stage directions and could picture the scenes very clearly, but the writing was not as effortless and fluid as I had expected (and although I will admit that plays do read very differently on paper than they do when performed, in my opinion, this writing still doesn’t flow as well as other plays when read).
My main issues with the storyline are unfortunately one of the main plot devices and one of the primary characters.
I hated the time travel aspect of the story. Hated it. I didn’t feel like it was done well at all. I loved the time turner storyline in The Prisoner of Azkaban but this one just didn’t land right with me. The butterfly effect is totally cliche (and kind of overdone) in time travel stories and that really forms a lot of the narrative drive which I didn’t love.
The person I disliked in the story was Delphi. The character was really hard for me to get my head around, especially with the reveal that she was Voldemort’s daughter with Bellatrix Lestrange (and I mean, when in all of Voldemort’s evil scheming, killing and taking over Great Britain does he suddenly think ‘oh hey, I really want to have me some sex’. Just, no.) It really didn’t sit well with me at all. And her whole idea to travel back in time to meet her dad and stop him being destroyed… it was just bizarre.
(Another minor weird point for me was alternate timeline Cedric Diggory – where being humiliated during the Tri-Wizard Tournament was the catalyst for him becoming a Death Eater. Didn’t seem plausible or at all in line with his character from the series. And ‘Voldemort Day’, seriously?)
On a more positive note, I enjoyed the main characters of Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy. Scorpius was a pleasant surprise, he had the best lines and was the most interesting character in the play. Albus was annoying at times (but then again so was Harry in the series) and I do wish he had been fleshed out a bit more but I think it was a good choice to focus on the children rather than the original characters.
Although I will say that I didn’t actually mind the interactions between the original characters and thought Draco’s character development was interesting. Seeing Snape again was great, and one of the most enjoyable parts of the story despite it being the part of the very murky time-travel waters (Umbridge, however, was a most unpleasant surprise).
For me, the story isn’t good enough to warrant intruding in the original completed story and (in my opinion) changing characters after the fact.
All that being said, I will reread Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to get a better sense of it all and will need to reread the entire series and the play again to get a final sense of how I feel about it, but for now, I’m not a fan. And that makes me really sad to say because I have been a huge Harry Potter fan for almost two-thirds of my life.
Hopefully I will make my peace with it (and in truth, I would love to see it performed, but alas I am not in London), but I would love to know what you thought. Loved it? Not a fan? Am I being too harsh in my criticism?
Linking up with Kylie Purtell for #IBOT (I blog on Tuesdays)
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