On my 11th birthday, I sat in a cinema watching the first Harry Potter film, my brother’s wristwatch alarm went off at 8:26pm, the time of my birth (a silly tradition in my family) at that moment on screen, Hagrid wished Harry a Happee Birthdae (sic), and so solidified my love of this series.
I am unashamedly a Harry Potter fanatic. My most prized possession is a deathly hallows pendant and I sit here writing with a sketch of Dobby (the rebellious house elf that saves Harry’s life) staring at me from the living room wall. To say I was excited for this book was an understatement, but beneath that excitement was a tone of scepticism.
Sequels are never as good as the originals, even through JK Rowling managed to continue the magic a wonderful seven times. Could an eighth story, 19 years later, really work? Would it be possible to fall in love with and hope for two new heroes particularly one who’s a Malfoy?
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two – JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany starts where the previous novel left off; we revisit the famous final pages where a grown-up Harry, Ron, Hermione and Ginny are bidding farewell to their children on platform 9¾. A teasing James Potter, appearing somewhat similar to his namesake, a nervous Albus Potter and an ambitious Rose Granger-Weasley, all boarding the train perhaps in search of their future lifelong friends, as their parents did so many years before. Albus makes the choice to befriend someone Rose clearly thinks he shouldn’t, Scorpius Malfoy.
We jump through years and glimpse that Albus is not as happy at Hogwarts as his parents once were, sorted into a different house and struggling with his father being the saviour of the wizarding world, which is causing their relationship to be strained. He struggles with the deaths which occurred on the journey to Harry becoming a saviour, he sees his father as cold and uncaring, particularly regarding Cedric Diggory. Cedric’s father begs Harry to use the last remaining Time Turner to save his son, upon his refusal, Albus and Scorpius take measures into their own hands.
Polyjuice potion is drunk and madness ensues. We are introduced to alternate worlds where Hermione is a mean professor, Snape is funny and Ron is not. The darkness of a Voldemort ruled world is glimpsed as the threat of it becoming a reality comes into play.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is released as a special rehearsal edition script of the stage play with a revised definitive collector’s edition to follow in 2017. Reading this story requires your imagination, it’s not like reading a novel. A novel describes everything in such detail, you can’t help but picture it in your mind.
In the script, Act One, Scene Nine, simply states that we are in the interior of Harry and Ginny’s bedroom and Harry wakes with a pain in his forehead. You, as the reader, must let your imagination run wild and invent the details yourself – a task some readers may find difficult, even those familiar with the Harry Potter universe. Fans were expecting a read as magical as its predecessors, is it that? No, but the stage play just might be.
It threw me back into the world with gusto, I found myself surprised by more than one Malfoy, gritting my teeth through the ridiculousness of some of the alternate universes. And ultimately enjoying the warm fuzzy feeling of having the gang back together, as they face evil and remind us of the importance of love and friendship.
There is a question however that lingers. Who is the cursed child? Is it Albus Severus Potter, the boy struggling with holding the names of three great wizards? Or is it Scorpius Malfoy the child of a death eater with possible genetic links to “He who must not be named”? In truth, even now I’m not sure.
If nothing else, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child proves that there is a surreal magic to these stories that binds those who read them. My mother read the first novel with me and over the years we went on sharing the books, discussing at length the plot and the characters we loved and hated. What could possibly happen next? Together we shared in the excitement of this new story.
Many other fans will share the same tale, because it’s more than a children’s book, it’s more than a story about a boy who lived, it’s a story that fosters a wild imagination and dreaming in the impossible, it’s a story that brings people together and will do for years to come.
If you’re a newbie, head back to the beginning, pick up The Philosopher’s Stone, gather the young ones filling your life and blow your minds, because you’re never too old for a little bit of magic.
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