Synopsis: Harry Potter’s son Albus heads to Hogwarts, gets sorted into Slytherin House, and befriends Scorpius Malfoy, Draco Malfoy’s son. Albus and Scorpius get a hold of a Time-Turner, and go back in time to save the life of Cedric Diggory, with dire consequences to the current world.
Review: Hmmm. I honestly don’t quite know what to say. I didn’t love the book, I didn’t hate it, but it also really irritated me, and I don’t know why it was written.
August has been Harry Potter month for the Hype or Like Friday Goodreads group I’m in, where we read one hyped book a month and post our reviews on the last Friday of the month. August’s book was Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne, and I may be in the minority here, but this book was all HYPE for me.
And there will be spoilers from here on out, but honestly, NOTHING HAPPENS IN THIS BOOK apart from the death of someone we never really meet, so there really isn’t anything to be spoiled. A lot of the plot takes place in alternate realities, and trying to prevent “what if” scenarios, and this leads to zero tension.
Since there is more bad than good here, let’s start with what I did like first.
I did like the format of the play. I think that had I seen Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as a play, without having read the script, and seen all the special effects, staging, and production, I think I would’ve loved this far more than I did.
I would’ve liked to see how they staged the parts on the Hogwarts Express, especially the scene literally on the roof of the train. I also would’ve liked to see how they did the glimpses of the past, and the scene in Hermione’s office with the bookshelves where Scorpius and Albus find the Time-Turner. I also would’ve loved to have seen the final scene of Part One, where the dementors all come out and it is revealed that Voldemort is still alive.
I also did like the character of Scorpius Malfoy. Yay – FINALLY JK Rowling writes a likable Slytherin character! Ok fine, Albus Potter is Slytherin too, but I didn’t enjoy his character as much as Scorpius. Scorpius was just such a nerd, but a lovable, sweet nerd, and I really liked his interactions with Rose, Hermione and Ron’s daughter. Since Pottermore sorted me into Slytherin, I’ve been waiting for a great Slytherin character to come around. Finally, there is one, even if he is the son of the odious Draco Malfoy. (And yes, Snape is Slytherin, but he’s not really that likeable of a character. I love him, but he’s isn’t warm and cuddly like Scorpius is.)
But, that’s really all the good there is.
Now on to the bad.
There really isn’t anything original in this play. There aren’t really any new spells, there are no new changes to the Harry Potter world that I can tell, just that Hermione is now the Minister for Magic, not of Magic. A lot of the dialogue and scenes are pulled from the original seven novels, and while this was nice at first, there was far too much of it to the point that everything, every plot point, felt recycled and unoriginal. There is even one point when Dumbledore’s picture is speaking to Harry, and Harry even says in response, “You said that to me once before”. Perhaps I’m being overly harsh here, but there was nothing truly jaw-dropping amazing and new and fresh here, like there was in every Harry Potter book previously published. The most interesting thing was the concept of the Augury, which are “sinister-looking black birds that cry when rain’s coming” and it is said that the cry of the Augury “foretold death”.
And while plot, setting, and conversation feels uninspired, the classic characters feel like caricatures of themselves. For instance, Hermione here is annoying and condescending. I didn’t have that respect and admiration for her in this book. Ron is childish and ridiculous, and he is my absolute favorite character in the previous books. What happened? I missed the Harry and Ron friendship dynamic from previous books, instead here we are treated to a Harry and Draco friendship which feels unnatural and forced. Kind of like Draco Malfoy’s now-present ponytail. Really?? Draco Malfoy sporting a ponytail?? That just seems so unlike him and just… weird. Snape makes an appearance in an alternate reality, and he is so chatty and open with his feelings, it just doesn’t fit. It was nice to hear his thoughts about Harry naming his child after him, but, I only liked that for purely sentimental reasons, and not because Severus Snape would honestly react like that if he were to find out.
Another thing I didn’t like was that nothing had any weight to it. Yeah, Albus and Scorpius mess things up in the past when they try to save Cedric, but it just felt like it really didn’t matter. That I, as a reader, knew that all would be made right, and there was no reason to get stressed out and worried about our characters. And I was right. There was no true tension in the book, everything was false tension, and it irritated the heck out of me. I never once felt real fear that Voldemort had returned, or that Harry Potter had been killed at the Battle of Hogwarts, and Dolores Umbridge was still headmistress at Hogwarts celebrating Voldemort Day.
Even the plot with Delphi, supposedly Voldemort’s daughter with Bellatrix, didn’t make any sense. Delphi states that she “was born in Malfoy Manor before the Battle of Hogwarts”. So, would that be before Harry and Co. were captured and Hermione tortured there? Or was Bellatrix obviously pregnant while torturing Hermione? Wouldn’t other characters have noticed she was pregnant, or noticed a newborn hanging around? It makes zero sense. And Draco was there at Malfoy Manor, and he supposedly knows nothing about Delphi’s existence. Just feels false and forced to me.
I was really disappointed with this, as it felt unnecessary and contrived. I feel like I need to re-read the original seven books to get the awful taste of this one out of my mouth.
Bottom Line: Disappointing. Forced. Unnecessary. All HYPE.
So, what do you think? Agree with me? Disagree? Did Delphi’s existence make sense? Did you wish for an appearance by Mr & Mrs Weasley? And don’t you just want to take scissors to Draco’s ponytail?