Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

By Douglas Soule on September 03, 2016 from Book Review via

Like magic, the wizarding world of Harry Potter returned to the lives of millions, reigniting the nerdy passion that lurks in the hearts of millions across the globe. Bookstores swarmed with patrons on the July 31st midnight release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Many attended these release parties, upon having the hardcover book clutched protectively to their chests, stayed up the remainder of the night reading, immersed again within the castle of Hogwarts.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Childis the script of a play currently being shown in London. Since few in the USA can afford to cross an ocean to see the play (or do not want to deal with getting a full-body examination by a TSA agent), the book became an instant success, being the most pre-ordered book since the publication of Deathly Hallows almost a decade before. Written by an alliteration of names--Jack Thorne, John Tiffany, and the one and only J. K. Rowling-- Harry Potter returns nineteen years later, overstressed with work and failing to communicate with his youngest son, Albus Severus. Harry has no reference for being a dad; his own parents were killed by the evil wizard Voldemort when he was a baby. In a realm of hopping chocolate frogs, spell-casting wands, and chimney teleportation, the conflict rises not from the magic, but from an all-too-relatable question (for adults only, hopefully): How do I relate to my child?
Albus struggles at Hogwarts. No one except his best friend Scorpius Malfoy likes him. Albus cannot do anything without being compared to his father, the legendary Harry Potter. Loneliness is a central theme of this story. It exuded from the pages and filled me with a similar dread. Reading through the perspective of Albus, I wanted to insert myself into the text and offer comfort to the boy (he would hopefully not cast a spell at me, mistaking me for a troll).
A conversation between Harry Potter and Amos Diggory, whose son had been killed by Voldemort, is overheard by Albus. To prove his worth, Albus decides to steal an illegal time travelling device, wanting to go back in time to save the victim of Voldemort. Pressured by his best friend, Scorpius too comes along for the ride. And everything backfires in the most spectacular of fashions.
Readers delight as the plot takes a turn for the worse. Albus-- like someone in a midlife crisis-- finds himself fighting time itself. Each action he takes has the knife-to-the-throat sensation of possible death. Much like his own father’s youth, Albus must use friendship, creativity, and pure wizardry to defeats the odds.
Before flipping to the first page, know that this book is a fanfiction. J.K Rowling had little to do with this alleged “eighth establishment of Harry Potter.” Some fans were more disappointed with the resulting story than a child who got socks for Christmas. This is evident in the all-caps rants I’ve seen proliferating social media. And their frustrations are not unfounded. There were lines in the script that could have been mashed together by a ten-year-old. Yet, despite the cheesiness, my eyes scrolled across the pages without pause, the love radiating from the characters showing me that even through the worst of times, companionship will prevail.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Childwill not fill the void created by ten years of Potterless content. Yet, it does function as an appetizer for J. K. Rowling's future works (which she has confirmed), fanning the flames of literary hunger, readers all the more eager for a larger meal--not untypical for Americans.
Be sure to have a tight hold on your broomsticks when you dive into this story. It is a (emotionally) turbulent ride!

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