“Harry Potter and The Cursed Child” by J.K. Rowling Review

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Author:  J.K. Rowling

Published: 2016

I started reading the Harry Potter series after being pressured by several co-workers about a year ago. “You’re such a big reader, but you’ve never read Harry Potter! You’ll love it. It’s my favorite book series ever.” So I read the series this year, just finished Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and was shocked by how few of those same people bothered to read this last book in the series. The most common thing I’ve heard is “I don’t like reading plays” or “I didn’t want it to ruin the end of the series.” It’s weird, because the book reads like a lot of the others in the series, and picks up right at the end of The Deathly Hallows, even recycling a few pages at the beginning.

Are the hardcore fans missing out on anything? I’d say yes, but I’d also say that fan of how the series ended will enjoy this book and those who didn’t like the ending can skip out. I’m in the latter camp. The original ending of the series **spoilers ahead, stop reading if you don’t know what happens** was too tidy for my taste. Both Harry and Ginny as well as Ron and Hermione ending up happily together when they were all eighteen and hardly been in any relationship before that felt like taking fully formed characters and giving them zero thought final outcomes. The Cursed Child begins at the same scene where Harry and the gang are sending their offspring to Hogwarts and moves through a few years in school in the first fifty pages.

While Harry’s got three kids and Ron and Hermione have one of their own, the focus is on just one of Harry’s named Albus Severus and on Draco Malfoy’s son Scorpius. With the restrictions of the format and new characters front and center, Rowling does an admirable job of making you interested in the new characters though she’s much less successful at making us care about them. Much as Harry Potter was an annoying teen throughout a few of the books, Albus in particular is whiny and makes very poor decisions. Once that’s understandable for a kid, twice you think he’s just an idiot and three or more times you actively want somebody to lock this kid up.

Scorpius was the more interesting and more heroic of the kids, and it’s interesting to figure out who is the Cursed Child of the title. There’s a third candidate that appears later in the book that’s pretty flimsy in terms of both existing and motivation for being evil. The supporting cast is entirely characters that appeared earlier in the series. Fans of The Goblet of Fire will get a kick out of the frequent callbacks to that installment and the importance of Cedric Diggory in the resolution of the series. Ron doesn’t get much to do here, and Hermione’s role is more a celebration of where she ended up than anything she does.

Harry and Draco certainly get more to do than their peers. Some of the best moments in the book are the two finding common ground and working together, something the series seemed to be building to but surprisingly never occurred before this. There are even cameo moments from Dumbledore, Harry’s parents, Neville and others however aside from “he’s a teacher now” there’s not a ton of updates on where people ended up or how they’re doing. I got through this book very quickly and I was interested enough to keep reading. Most of my disappointment was based on the original end of the series and this book didn’t do enough to sway my opinion on that.

3 star

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