Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a story by J.K. Rowling that has been adapted by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne into a play and officially serves as book 8 in the Harry Potter series. Although the story is from the mind of J.K. Rowling, the book, which is a play script, is written by Tiffany and Thorne. The fact that it is a script rather than a novel and that it has names other than Rowling on the cover has led to a plethora of negative reviews. There are those who are too young to understand how a script differs from a novel, those who turn up their nose to anyone who invades Rowling’s space, and those who simply will not accept a new generation in the HP Universe. But I’ve come to say: I thoroughly enjoyed it! Little, Brown UK | July, 2016 | Hardcover | 343 pp
GINNY: Does your scar hurt?
HARRY: No. No. I’m fine. Now, Nox that and let’s get some sleep.
GINNY: Harry. How long has it been since your scar hurt?
HARRY turns to GINNY, his face says it all.
HARRY: Twenty-two years.
The scene opens where it left off at the end of Harry Potter #7 – with Harry giving his son, Albus Severus Potter, some advice and comfort before he heads to Hogwarts for his first year. I always assumed Albus, named for Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape, was his first son. But in The Cursed Child, we discover that Albus is the middle son. His first-born James is a few years older, and Lilly Potter is the youngest.
Albus is nervous about fitting in. With his same-aged friend Rose, the daughter of Hermione and Ron, he enters a car on the train and meets Scorpius Malfoy, son of Draco. Rose wants nothing to do with a Malfoy, but Albus and Scorpius get along. In fact, Albus is sorted into House Slytherin along with Malfoy, much to the surprise of the whole school.
The book flashes forward three years. Albus and Scorpius are best friends, Rose doesn’t talk to either of them, and Albus feels like an outcast – so does Scorpius since rumors have been flying that he’s actually the illegitimate child of Voldemort. Worse, Albus seems to resent that he is a Potter and he resents his father. On the eve of going back to Hogwarts for his fourth year, he has a fight with his father who says something awful to him out of parental distress.
This sets Albus and the reluctant Scorpius on a quest to right a wrong that was committed long before he was born using an ill-gotten Time-Turner. Albus wants to make a name for himself rather than suffering under the burden of being a failed Potter. His quest leads him back to the Triwizard Tournament where Cedric Diggory was killed. If all goes well, Cedric will be saved. Of course, it doesn’t. And small changes can lead to big ripples in time. When they get back, everything is different.
First, I loved going back! You get to experience some of the best things all over again: Platform 9 3/4, the train, making new friends, the Sorting Hat, and Hogwarts. I might be old, and I might have been old when I first read the series long ago (much older than the normal readership), but I still get tingles when thinking about Hogwarts.
Second, although this story is about Harry and Draco’s sons, it’s also about our same beloved characters. Hermione is the Minister for Magic, Ron owns a joke shop, Harry runs the Magical Law Enforcement department within the ministry, Ginny edits the sports pages, and Professor McGonagall is now headmistress of Hogwarts. Draco is also a main player in that his son is Albus’ best friend and when their sons go missing, Draco and Harry go head-to-head, each accusing the other of malicious deeds. One small change made by Albus and Scorpius back in time changes a lot. Hermione is a mean spinster teaching at Hogwarts and Ron is married to someone else which means their daughter doesn’t exist. Another small change, and everything goes to hell. Voldemort rules, muggles are tortured in the dungeons of Hogwarts, and Delores Umbridge is Headmistress. But in a world where our beloved Snape is still alive – there is hope, and tears.
In all honesty, this was a fantastic, mesmerizing, and terrifying alternate universe!
I also enjoyed the Potter-Malfoy role reversal. With the Albus and Scorpius friendship, it is Malfoy with the positive outlook, it is Malfoy who is the better friend, it is Malfoy with the voice of reason, and it is Malfoy who comes to the rescue. The same goes for the adults. Harry isn’t a perfect father and he makes mistakes. Draco blames him and rightfully so. Even Ginny and Professor McGonagall are in disbelief over Harry’s actions. When it comes down to the final act of saving the boys, Draco and others join the infamous Potter-Weasley-Granger team and they actually manage to work together.
I will admit that I see some glaring plot holes: Cedric turning into a Death Eater simply because he was embarrassed immediately defines him as weak and cowardly, which is the exact opposite of Cedric – so I don’t buy that one. Another is Snape still being alive after the Battle of Hogwarts in an alternate timeline when Voldemort wins. Voldemort would still have killed Snape for the rights to the wand. There are others, but many things are left unexplained as happens with play scripts.
I would love to see this on the silver screen.