Monday, August 1, 2016
Book Review: "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany
I was a little late to the party with the Harry Potter series, but that was a good thing, so there were three or four books already published when I got hooked. Eventually I had to wait until J.K. Rowling wrote each one, and although I tried to demonstrate some self-control, I'd usually devour them fairly quickly. When the last book was released, I think I waited about six months to read it, because I couldn't fathom the idea of not having any more time with Harry, Hermione, Ron, and the gang. But then I broke down, read it, and broke down again (emotionally).
So when Harry Potter and the Cursed Child came out, you'd think I might want to hoard it for a while, especially in light of Rowling's recent announcement that this would be the last story in the series. Well, I just couldn't. It's Harry freaking Potter, for pity's sake! But given my attachment to the series, would this new storya play, to bootlive up to my expectations? Would the chemistry between the characters feel the same? Would this generate the same emotional reactions I've felt before?
Yes, yes, and yes.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child takes place 19 years after the last book. Harry is married with three children (if you've still not read the last book in the series, I'll not spoil the surprise of who his wife is), and is barely keeping things afloat as a high-level employee at the Ministry of Magic. His younger son, Albus Severus Potter, is about to start Hogwarts, and isn't too keen on the legacy of being Harry Potter's son following him through school. It doesn't take him long to distinguish himself as utterly different than his father, and his choice of best friend causes him even more alienation at the hands of his fellow students.
As his time at Hogwarts rolls on, Albus grows more and more disenchanted with school and his father. After an argument with Harry one night, Albus makes a decision in the heat of the moment that he wants to undo a wrong his father caused a number of years ago. Little does he know this will set into motion a chain of events which will cause the present, the past, and the future to collide, bringing the threat of danger, grief, loss, and the possible return of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. All in all, it's a lot to face.
I'll stop here with the plot description for fear of giving anything away. I absolutely loved this story. Even though it was a little strange reading it as a play rather than a book, I got the old, familiar feelings as I was reading, became both excited and melancholy as old characters returned, and definitely was struck by suspense and trepidation as I wondered how the plot would wrap itself up. This is definitely more a book about Albus than it is about Harry, Ron, Hermione, Draco, and the rest, but it still touches on the Potter-esque themes of friendship, hope, anger, abandonment, grief, and fear.
"People think they know all there is to know about you, but the best bits of you arehave always beenheroic in really quiet ways."
This is truly a perfect quote to sum up what is so special about Harry Potter. I'm so glad to have had another chance to spend even a short amount of time with these characters, back in their world. I hope Rowling will reconsider again allowing the world more visits with Harry and crew, but until then, this was a worthy nugget to hold on to.