After so many years, long-time Potterheads have the opportunity to delve back into the wizarding world and see what Harry, Hermione, Ron and others are doing nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts. I, myself, am a recent fan. After months and months of putting it off, I finally read the series for the first time a few months ago. But, like many others who’ve read the book will agree, Cursed Child isn’t quite what we expected.
** All reviews will be spoiler-free unless otherwise stated. This review in particular contains a spoiler-free section and a section in which I run rampant with no regard for spoiler alerts.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is set nineteen years into the future. The very first scene takes us back to Deathly Hallows’ epilogue at King’s Cross. For fans, it’s bittersweet, as the story to follow will be completely unexpected and, at the same time, entirely too predictable. For many, it will not feel at all like a Harry Potter book.
The plot is simple enough to understand, but it seems like something out of a Phineas and Ferb episode. The central conflict doesn’t even make any sense. (Spoiler alert: Voldemort had a PENIS?) At least, not within the reality of the wizard world and what we know of it. It seems almost as though all logic and reason (even what little exists in the world of these wizards) is completely disregarded. The entire story seemed strewn together for the sole purpose of giving the fans what they’ve always wanted: the chance to see their favorite characters again. But, really, Cursed Child is just fan fiction (albeit poorly-written).
Don’t get me wrong—I really did enjoy reading Cursed Child. It was still entertaining, and the dynamic between the characters was incredibly intriguing. Specifically, the dynamic between Albus Severus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy. It was also interesting to see how the friendship between Harry, Ron, and Hermione had evolved over the years.
It was frustrating to read certain parts of the play, because it was very clear that the two authors who were not J.K. Rowling had utilized their artistic license when writing Cursed Child. I don’t know how much input J.K. Rowling had in the plotting and story line, but it seems that she slid some ideas across the table to the other two writers, and they just went with it however they pleased. It’s like someone took a bunch of index cards, wrote a bunch of cool fanfic ideas for the story, rearranged them randomly, took them to the publisher and said, “I dunno, man—just roll with it.”
On top of that, certain characters were portrayed in a way that seemed so radically different from who they really are that it felt almost as if I was reading about entirely different people. Or that someone had read about a character all wrong. It didn’t feel right, and it certainly didn’t feel like an eighth Harry Potter book.
I’m sure the play would’ve been great to see live. Hopefully, I’ll have the opportunity to see it on Broadway, though I’m doubtful I ever will. Still, it seems the production will have portrayed the story far better than words could. Support the production. Don’t buy the book. I downloaded a free copy in order to read it, so I didn’t spend any money on this, but I certainly don’t regret my decision. I would not have paid nearly $20 for this, I’m sad to say. Still, if you choose to read this, try to lower your expectations and avoid looking at it as canon or as part of Harry’s world.
Recommend? Not to read, but to see live, hell yes.
Now, this is the portion that will have spoilers.
So don’t read ahead if you haven’t read Cursed Child yet, alright? Okay.
Scorbus should’ve been canon. I had had so, so, so much hope that Scorpius and Albus would be more than just friends. They really did seem like they might have been when Scorpius appeared to be inexplicably jealous of Albus and Delphi (who we’ll get to in a second). I’m immensely disappointed that they didn’t end up as more than friends. WHY was it not endgame? It’s like “gay” is a dirty word in the world of Harry Potter.
There were so many heterosexual, cisgendered characters in Harry Potter and one maybe-gay character (Dumbledore, if you didn’t know). It’s simply impossible for that many people to exist in a world (no matter how fictional) and not have a single LGBTQ+ person. It’s not reflective of reality, and that’s an injustice to the world. Besides, how many people would have laid down their life at fourteen or fifteen years old just to save their friend (Act Three, Scene Twenty)? Few. Very few.
I did not know that Voldemort had a penis. Or that it could, in fact, be used. Did you know that? I mean, the guy was practically dead, having split his soul into so many pieces. And when the hell did he have time to bang Bellatrix. Like, it was clear that Bellatrix loved Voldemort (on some creepy level), but it didn’t seem like he returned her feelings, at least on the level that she did. And he seemed far too perplexed by the twin cores issue to concern himself with sex (no matter how great sex might be). Also, his daughter, Delphini, is twenty two when it’s revealed she’s Tom Riddle’s daughter. That’s just so weird to me. Just… how the hell did he have a penis? I simply don’t understand.
In one of the alternate realities, Hermione is portrayed as a bitter Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher who takes points from whatever house she desires just because she wants to. And, it seems, the sole reason for her bitterness is because, in this reality, Ron married someone else who was not her. Her wonderful character is reduced to a carbon copy Snape, which is so ridiculously disappointing. Hermione is so much more than her love life, so much more than the boys she liked who don’t like her back. That is not something she would dwell on for so long. I mean, this is the girl who fucking obliviated her parents just to protect them and reined in her emotions (or, at the very least, tried to) whenever she thought about it because she knew she had to protect them. She wouldn’t let herself become bitter over the years over a boy. That’s not Hermione, and it’s sad that she was portrayed like that, even if it was in an alternate reality.
Cursed Child changed my opinion on Professor Snape. Not by a lot, though it did open my eyes. Severus Snape was a bitter old dickface who mistreated students over something that had happened decades ago because he could not let go of the past. Yes, he did good. He protected Harry, although he also did traumatize the boy. Snape’s role in Cursed Child eased my hatred, just the slightest bit.
Although it was an alternate reality Snape, this was a Snape that would’ve existed had things gone differently. This Snape was still the same Snape we knew. And despite being told that he was going to end up as just another one of Voldemort’s victims, he willingly allowed Scorpius to right his wrongs and set everything back in place. He portrayed true sacrifice, and he didn’t even think twice about it. (But the next few lines made it seem like the authors were purposely trying to make Snape look better…)
And finally, we have Dumbledore. Fucking Dumbledore. I was always conflicted on Dumbledore while reading the series, for the same reasons as many other fans. Dumbledore displays the same kind of behavior even in portrait form that he did throughout the series. His words remained ever-cryptic and always disappeared inexplicably. It was kind of annoying and frustrating. Canon Dumbledore seemed so much more wise and less external in regards to his emotions. It seemed so out of character for him to sob in front of Harry and say what he did. Dumbledore never seemed very affectionate; he always thought of “the greater good” above anything else.
I know it seems all bad, but Cursed Child wasn’t terrible. I found it genuinely entertaining, though the whole Time-Turner idea and completely fucking up the future seemed like such an immature plot for Harry Potter’s world but whatever. I would still like to see the play live.