Book review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Should you bother reading this new version of Harry Potter?
Don’t worry – this review is spoiler free!
The last couple of weeks have been pretty exciting for Harry Potter fans. Finally, the long awaited script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was released in book form, so all of us, including those who couldn’t afford to fly to London to see the play, can now find out all the important details we need to know about what’s been happening in the nineteen years since Voldemort was defeated!
And J.K. Rowling and playwright Jack Thorne have delivered a whole lot of new information! Cursed Child sheds lots of light on the Wizarding World and what has been happening to the beloved characters since Deathly Hallows. There are so many moments that will make you gasp as you read Cursed Child and discovered where Harry, Ron, Hermione and Draco have ended up, and what their kids are like.
Plus, the play deals with some really fascinating themes. Let’s take a look at two of them.
Love and family relationships
Harry’s relationship with his immediate family was never really explored in the original seven books, because he was an orphaned only child. However, in Cursed Child, Harry is married and a parent. The play deals extensively with the complexities that come along with the marriage relationship, the parent-child relationship, and the sibling relationship.
For Harry and his son Albus, the relationship is particularly complicated. Albus doesn’t know how to live with such a famous father, and Harry has difficulty connecting with his middle child. Cursed Child is a heartfelt look at the joys and trials of family.
One particular moment where this theme comes out is when Ginny tells Harry he must show Albus – specifically Albus – that he loves him. Harry argues that he would do anything for Albus, and Ginny points out that Harry would do anything for anyone. After all, he was willing to die in Deathly Hallows to secure the defeat of Lord Voldemort.
This moment, one of the most profound in the whole play, really made me stop and think of Jesus. Jesus, like Harry, sacrificed himself to save others. However, unlike Harry, Jesus did it even for the Death Eaters… even for Voldemort. He did it for those that hated him and those that tried to kill him.
And, he did it for each and every one of us specifically. Unlike Albus doubted the specific love of his father, we never need to doubt that Jesus loves each and every one of us individually, and knows us specifically. His death may have been once for all, but it was also once for you, and once for me.
The impact of the past
Two decades have passed since Draco Malfoy was a Death Eater, but he and the original gang still have a strained relationship. And Harry’s scar hasn’t hurt for nineteen years, but the scars of the years he spent fighting Voldemort are still present in his life.
In many ways, Cursed Child is about how the impact of the past will never go away. Relationships are damaged, grief still reigns and many of the characters show traces of post-traumatic disorders and survivor’s guilt. While Deathly Hallows finished on a victorious, peaceful note, Cursed Child highlights that in reality, the impacts of trauma take a long time to disappear.
This is true of the impacts of the bad things in our world too. Often, sin causes us great pain, and though we may accept and forgive, healing might take a lot longer. Thankfully, unlike Harry and his friends, we know that we can turn to Christ and seek refuge and continued healing in his care. There’s no magic spell to remove pain, but there is eternal hope in Jesus.
What’s it like to read?
For the first few pages, reading Cursed Child is a little strange – it’s a play, not a novel, and you have to ensure that you read slowly enough to take in who is saying each line. But it gets easier pretty quickly.
That being said, the fact that this is a script and not a novel does mean that it is a very different reading experience. Characters are far less in depth, as you cannot see inside their heads. The settings are described at the beginning of each scene but then you really feel the lack of Rowling’s vivid descriptions of the magical world. And though the script describes the onstage special effects and it is possible to kind of picture them, reading the play did make me feel like I was only getting half, or even a third, of the full story. I wished I could see the characters’ facial expressions and the magic around them!
It also feels quite rushed. It took me just over two hours to read the whole thing and yet it spans several years, huge plot developments and so many shifts in time and space that I got to the end feeling like I’d simply been told the outline of a story, rather than having actually read it. Again, seeing the play may take away this feeling.
Cursed Child is a very interesting read. Diehard Potter fans will enjoy dipping their toes back into the magical world and as the characters have aged the thematic concerns have similarly matured. However, in my mind, Deathly Hallows will always be the true end of the series. Some have described Cursed Child as more like fan fiction than a new sequel, and as I read it I felt that was quite an accurate description.
But if you love Harry Potter, then you should definitely read it. Some of the new developments add interesting insights into the series as a whole and the premise of the play is incredibly clever. Just don’t read it expecting the same thing as the previous books – then you’ll be pretty disappointed. This is something new and different – and if Rowling wants to jump back into Harry Potter’s world again, even in a different form, how can we say no?