Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

by J.K. Rowling

4 out of 5

Synopsis
Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.



Review
Harry Potter's second son, Albus is struggling growing up in his father's shadow. He's the spare Potter, the one that doesn't quite fit it, or meet people's expectations. Then the opportunity arises for Albus to do something his dad failed to do, and save a life from the past.

This is Harry Potter.
A new Harry Potter book.
When it arrived on Sunday, I felt all nostalgic. I'm sure most of us remember the build-up and general Potter Hysteria when a new book was coming out. There has been nothing like it before, and I doubt there will ever be another book series that inspires that excitement.
I wonder what the marketing team do, when planning promotion:
"There's a new Potter book."
Job done, let's go to the pub.

This isn't quite a new Harry Potter story.
If you aren't aware already: this is the script of the screenplay.
It is not a fully-fleshed story written to be an accompaniment, but don't worry, once you get used to the format, the dialogue is very effective at moving the story along.
I admit, it does rush over Albus' first few years at Hogwarts to get him to where the story actually takes off, but it is worth reading this skimming scenes.

The main characters in this are Harry's son Albus, and Draco Malfoy's son Scorpius.
The focus is on their friendship, and the taut relationships they have with their fathers.
Harry does play a big role, but he's definitely sharing the spotlight with the next generation.
But at the same time, this isn't Albus' story, it is still firmly fixed around the existence of Harry.

There is nothing new.
Apart from the introduction of a younger generation, the story is basically a nostalgic revisit to events in the main series, and an expansion and rehash of some scenes and histories from it.
You get a lot of "what if" scenarios.

There isn't as much focus on magic. Sort of.
In the main series, we mere muggles follow Harry as he learns that magic exists. We are introduced to each new creature, spell, language etc as he is. It is all foreign and lots to learn.
In this book, it's twenty years on. Harry has grown up and the magical world is now very much the norm. The story makes the assumption that we are aware of the foundation (which any respectable fan should be), and we accept the everyday use of magic.
In that respect, this focuses much more on the family dynamics than flashy spells.

So does all the above mean that I didn't enjoy this story. Does it 'eck.

I loved it, of course I did. It is very readable (a few hours does the job), and you immediately feel comfortable with all the familiar characters, and it was lovely to see what they all ended up doing in their lives.
It is immensely satisfying for a Harry Potter fan. (If you haven't read Harry Potter - DO NOT READ THIS. The Cursed Child has soooo many spoilers for the main series, and one of the things I loved about the main books is that J.K. Rowling always keeps you guessing. It is so very worth reading those first. And... um... I imagine you would be completely lost as to what the hell is going on if you tried to start with this book.)

It wasn't as exciting and adventurous as the main books, but The Cursed Child is funny.
I loved the fact that every page made me chuckle, or made my inner-geek squeal because there was confirmation of a theory, or the return of awesome characters. I want so much to say which ones were my favourites, but I really don't want to give any spoilers.

It was really sweet to look at the relationships going forward. I think my favourites were Ron and Hermione - throughout the book you realise that they are better together and will always be drawn to each other.
And then there's Draco Malfoy and Scorpius. Draco wants to be a good dad, and he is. He cares so fiercely for his son, and is the first to support him, no matter his choice of friends or future etc.

In the end, this hardly compares with the main series, but it does leave that warm, fuzzy feeling.

Goodreads link
Amazon.co.uk

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