This review of HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD contains MAJOR of spoilers. If you want to read this book, do not read this post.
You’ve been warned.
Disappointed. That’s the word. And not like those people who were shocked and dismayed to discover the hefty hardback they’d preordered was a play instead of a novel. When I bought my copy I knew what I was getting. The play itself isn’t even written by J.K. Rowling, but by Jack Thorne (which it says right on the cover by the way). But even the knowing of these things did not prevent me feeling cheated as I read the script, nor did it prevent me from directing my disgruntled emotions toward J.K. Rowling, because it was the plot that I found lacking. That, I believe, was all her.
The opening scene of the play is a dramatized version of the prologue in Deathly Hallows. This didn’t bother me at first, because it made sense to me as a springboard into the new story and would appeal to fans of the books. But that wasn’t the only old scene that was put into the story.
The plot centers around the use and misuse of a time turner. Now, time travel is tricky any way you slice it, and in my reading/viewing experience, often leaves approximately 458,290,002 plot holes behind that you need to caulk and spackle. Kudos to anyone who does it. But this rolling back of time, plus the occasional nightmare of Harry Potter, had multiple scenes thrown in from the original books. While this is a lesser complaint, I was hoping for more new content.
I was also frustrated by what seemed to me like a whiny violin play for sympathy over characters that I most often see mooned over by fans. Namely Severus Snape (who by the way is my favorite), Cedrick Diggory, and Neville Longbottom.
The initial jump back into time is all in an effort to save the tragically killed Cedrick Diggory. This screws up life and the world because Cedrick apparently turned Death Eater and killed Neville at the battle of Hogwarts. If Neville dies, then Voldemort lives, because Neville is responsible for destroying one of Moldy-Volde’s Horcruxs.
Now, we can rush past the whole Hufflepuff Cedrick becoming a Death Eater issue and play the “Author knows best” card, but by the time I hit this part of the play my eye was already twitching. Then when Severus Snape turned up alive in this new world, and gave his life AGAIN to make it all be right, I felt like I’d been roped into crying over the same crap I’d already been through with Deathly Hallows. Plus, there was this whole emotional moment when Snape is told that Harry named his child after him. Snape’s dying words are, “Tell Albus Severus Potter, that I’m proud he bears my name.”
But by far the worst part for me, was when I found that Voldemort was the father of Bellatrix Lestrange’s child, a little girl born just before the battle of Hogwarts. Sex? Voldemort? No. That is an oddity that no amount of “author knows best” can excuse in my mind. I just don’t buy it. I felt like I was reading fan fiction. Nothing wrong with fan fiction! I’ve written some myself. Except, I just think that Rowling doesn’t need to do that.
I’ve read The Cuckoo’s Calling. I’d give it a solid 5 stars. I heard mixed reviews on it, some harping on the fact that it didn’t really sell until the news popped out that Robert Galbraith was J.K. Rowling. Of course that made it sell. J.K. Rowling had already been tested in the fires of unknown authordom and found brilliant. Rightfully so. She is utterly fantastic. Nobody knew Robert Galbraith. Why risk picking up his book instead of John Grisham’s? I call it courage to go through those fires again when her name would have sold it easily without the initial rejection.
But that’s just what I mean, she’s too good to have to repackage the old franchise. She’s a true writer, and probably has a thousand untold stories dancing in her head. And while I love Harry Potter, I think she deserves to work on the new and not fall under the hypnosis of the MORE HARRY! MORE HARRY! chant from fans and publishers. That’s what Pottermore is for. She has there the blessing of a forever fandom, where she can post endless anecdotes and updates on her characters to the eager approval of all. Most authors just have to walk away from their favorite characters when the story is done being told.
And stories do end. Harry’s mortgage, petty marital arguments, and eventual aging arthritic knees will not make for compelling sequels. Harry has now saved the world for Voldemort TWICE. How many times can a person save the world from a super-villian that they’ve already vanquished? Is Harry a Saturday morning cartoon of a DC comic now? And if I have to believe he is going to save the world THREE times from He Who Shall Not Be Named…well, I just won’t.
In case this post sounds utterly negative and like I hate the continuing Harry Potter franchise, I LOVELOVELOVED Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The world she created in the Potter books was bigger than just Harry. Give me more new characters like Newt Scamander and I’ll come back forever. Also, the play is scheduled to open in NYC. If by any chance I could secure tickets, I would sure as anything still go, but it wouldn’t be because I was in love with the plot. It had some very fascinating special effects written in, which I would love to see worked out on stage.