Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

October 12, 2016
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Book Cover Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Harry Potter, #8
J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany
Stage Play
Arthur A. Levine Books
July 31st, 2016
Stage Play
327
Owned

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

(via Goodreads)

 

Ah, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. You poor thing. You are the book everyone anticipated, only to be disappointed when they realized you were a stage play. Personally, I spent a good portion of my growing up on stage. I am very familiar with how to read a play, why you do readings, and all that. hpatcc-9-and-3-4This means Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was a marvel for me; a welcome change of pace. The experience of reading this book brought two childhood* favorites crashing together: Stage plays and Harry Potter.

*I was 13 when the first book came out in the US, and I read it the same year it was released. I was one of those kids.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tells the story of Albus Severus Potter as he begins his Hogwarts journey. This stage play picks up literally where the books left off, in fact. Albus and Harry have had a rocky time of it lately, but that’s not all. Albus’s best friend is none other than Scorpius Malfoy… who, shockingly, has also been having some troubles at home. As these boys grow up, they decide to take things into their own hands and challenge some decisions their fathers have made. Only, as you can imagine, things do not go as planned.

Those we love never truly leave us, Harry. There are things that death cannot touch.

Now, as you might have noticed if you read other reviews, reading a stage play is very different experience from reading a novel. In novels you have world building and slow character development, inner monologue and, well, appropriate pacing for a novel. hpatcc-bestiesIn a stage play the world doesn’t work the same. You have two and a half hours to tell a full story arc, your world building is mostly done through scenery and lighting, inner monologue rarely exists, and character development has to happen quickly. But on the stage you have human actors. You have imagery to control and define to tell your story. It’s a different experience entirely.

If you come to this play expecting the next HP book, you will be sadly let down. While this is a very fast paced story, our authors assume you are already familiar with the Potter’s world. Limited world building happens through description or character lines. Same with existing character development. Hermione is Hermione (though, now Minister of Magic), Ron is Ron (though now running Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes), etc. But our new characters get a chance to shine.

The truth is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.

Albus is certainly both Harry’s foil and a mini-me. He is selfish, angsty, and demanding. He is everything his father was as a student at Hogwarts, and yet nothing like him at all. hpatcc-dumbledoreThis has been a challenge for Harry who is struggling with the scars of being “the chosen one” even still, but now he is the Head of Magical Law Enforcement and doesn’t feel like a good father. As an adult now, I can relate a lot to Harry– he has certainly grown up with me.

Despite all that, my favorite character is certainly Scorpius. Here ends my extrapolation, because Spoilers.

As a live show, this must be REMARKABLE. I can barely imagine how they will pull off all the scene changes and special effects. There is so much magic involved; how can they even do it?! It’s important to know that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is actually in two parts. That’s right– if you want to see the whole show, you need to go to the theatre two nights in a row. Like Wagner’s The Ring Cycle. This is serious theatre. But that’s the only way to fit so much into a stage production.

In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.

Honestly, I think this is probably a fantastic show. When analyzing theatre you must consider so many aspects: hpatcc-minsters-officephysical and scenic environments, character appearances, spoke text and action, structure, metaphors, the playwright’s intentions, choices, thought, audience interaction… I could go on and on. I hope that at some point they set up a location (or 10) in America where they will perform. I would love to see this live!

If this book does nothing but inspires you to read your first stage play, it’s worth it as far as I’m concerned. Don’t expect a new Harry Potter book, but expect a touching story about father/child issues set with our favorite characters in our favorite world.

4 stars

 

Disclaimer: All photos are property of J.K Rowling and Warner Bros Entertainment

26 Comments

  • Birdie October 12, 2016 at 9:14 am

    I really want to read this, but I really want to SEE it even more. I’m holding off on read it in the hopes that it does eventually make it over for a tour in the US.

    • Jackie B October 14, 2016 at 10:10 am

      Yes! Me too. I can’t imagine they turning this into a travelling show, though. It seems like there is too much built into their set and scenery– it would be a nightmare. Plus, with two shows to present… Well, I hope they settle down in Chicago or NYC or LA or something. I would definitely go see it. IT must be a spectacle!

      • Birdie October 14, 2016 at 10:25 am

        Chicago would be perfect! 🙂

      • Birdie October 14, 2016 at 10:45 am

        Actually, maybe they’ll even do an On Demand airing of it on television. I’d even take that.

        • Jackie B October 14, 2016 at 11:11 am

          Now *that* would be really interesting. Or in the theatres? I love going to see the Met showings on the big screen– I would be on board for this shown in a movie theatre as well!

          • Birdie October 14, 2016 at 11:25 am

            The theater would be wonderful!

  • M @ A Blog Of One's Own October 12, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    I’m finally going to read this soon – at least I have the book now finally 😀 And I agree with you – reading a play is much different not only from reading a novel, but also from SEEING it as a play. There are so many dimensions you don’t have in the screenplay – even things like the voices of the actors or make-up and costumes, not to mention the set up on stage can make a HUGE difference. Of course that doesn’t make reading a screenplay bad or boring (Shakespeare <3 ) – if you know what you're signing up for, it can still be just as amazing 🙂

    • Jackie B October 14, 2016 at 10:13 am

      Definitely! Only, with Shakespeare, you *really* need to know what you’re signing up for. I love watching Shakespeare; I understand it better when I see it acted out. I get lost when I read the comedies when there is a running joke, but I love to watch them the most. I try to read at least one Shakespeare play a year. I am lucky that there is a summer theatre program near me that performs Shakespeare, too. I can easily get my fix in then. 🙂

      • M @ A Blog Of One's Own October 14, 2016 at 8:25 pm

        Oh that sounds awesome! Lucky you 🙂 I only ever saw Othello as a play on stage but it was absolutely fantastic! <3

        • Jackie B October 16, 2016 at 5:18 pm

          Thanks! I adore Othello. It’s so tragic (Um, I guess that’s the point)! I hope you get to see more performances in the future. They are sooo worth it.

  • Anne October 13, 2016 at 7:22 am

    *high fives* at being one of those kids! 😀 I read the first book the year it was translated into Dutch (which was probably a year after the original book came out). I haven’t read this one yet, but dear blogging friend told she was going to send me a copy of it soon, so I’m hoping to read it somewhere this year, without having any expectations about it being the next book in the series. I didn’t buy it myself because I didn’t know whether I would like it and wanted to participate in the hype. But then again, Harry’s been a good friend of mine for yeeeeeears now, so why shouldn’t I, right? Lovely review you wrote here! 🙂 And how cool is it that you grew up around the stage!

    • Jackie B October 14, 2016 at 10:43 am

      Yeah! Growing up with Harry and the while Potterverse was definitely a huge part of shaping who I am today.
      I’m glad you aren’t expecting this to be the next book in the series. It really isn’t. Like Amanda said below, it’s more of a companion text. Plus, it’s weird reading a stage play for a series you are used to being a novel.

  • Amanda @Cover2CoverMom October 13, 2016 at 8:51 pm

    Jackie, you hit the nail on the head with this review! You are one of the few people who really “get it.” In my opinion, the way this “book” was marketed set it up for failure. I really don’t blame people for being disappointed when it was marketed as “the 8th book.” I went into this book thinking of it as a companion piece, and not a book in the series.

    • Jackie B October 14, 2016 at 10:40 am

      Yes! Thank you, Amanda!
      I think you’re right about the marketing. I wonder if the marketing was different elsewhere in the world? Warner Bros still owns production rights, so I wonder if they had something to do with it… It’s just a shame that people are writing this off as “bad fan fiction” because they are missing a key component.

  • Jeann @ Happy Indulgence October 15, 2016 at 5:48 am

    I could definitely imagine just how wonderful this would be as a live stage play, seeing everything come to life after the scant descriptions in the book. I loved Scorpius so much as well, he was just so gorgeous! I loved the book even though it was only a script. Great review!

    • Jackie B October 16, 2016 at 5:14 pm

      Thanks, Jenn! I have definitely added seeing these performances live to my person bucket list. Scorpius is a great character– I would hope that seeing him live would make his character more real, too.

  • Ashleigh October 16, 2016 at 6:45 am

    Lovely review! I remember when this first came out, it would actually be so sad to see so many people disappointed by it. The whole “8th book” thing was just the wrong thing to say, because even though people KNEW it was a screenplay, the majority haven’t read a play before and so would expect all the usual world building & character building subconsciously. I really enjoyed it myself – I rated it full stars, though looking back I think it deserves a slightly lower rating (my excitement got the better of me).

    • Jackie B October 16, 2016 at 5:10 pm

      Thanks, Ashleigh. 🙂 I don’t blame you for giving Cursed Child 5 stars at all. My emotional involvement, and the things going on in my life around me when I read a book, always affect my ratings. That’s part of the fun! There are lots of books I rate differently when I re-read them. Nostalgia is the biggest culprit, too.

    • Jackie B October 16, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      Thanks, Ashleigh. 🙂 I don’t blame yo for givingCursed Child 5 stars at all. My emotional involvement, and the things going on in my life around me when I read a book, always affect my ratings. That’s part of the fun! There are lots of books I rate differently when I re-read them. Nostalgia is the biggest culprit, too.

  • Jasmine October 19, 2016 at 2:23 pm

    I just started this book last night. I’m putting Gilded Cage on hold as my buddy read is stuck with her homework haha.. I’m not used to reading a book in the play format.. did it bother you? I will come back to read your review in detail after I finish with that book 🙂

    • Jackie B October 20, 2016 at 6:11 pm

      I’m sorry to hear your buddy read is on hold! I adore Buddy Reads. I hope you enjoy it when you pick Gilded Cage back up!
      I have read many plays throughout my life, so it didn’t bother me. If you are unfamiliar with reading plays, and find you are struggling to engage, I encourage you to try reading them aloud. That always helped me!

      • Jasmine October 21, 2016 at 10:06 am

        What didn’t you liked about it since you didn’t give it a 5 stars?

    • Jackie B October 21, 2016 at 10:21 am

      Without giving too much away, I felt like Delphi’s character wasn’t necessary; the parts of the plot she drove would have been more powerful coming from other pre-existing characters. But, I respect the need for a new character to introduce. If they kept her, Delphi’s character could have been tweaked in some ways which would have made the story line more believable.
      I also don’t think I could love it until I see it live. Then I would really understand this much more.

  • Marie @ drizzleandhurricanebooks October 21, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    I’m glad you enjoyed this book! It felt SO good to get back into this world again, but I have to admit, not being used to reading plays, I was a bit sad not to have as much world building and description. I bet the play must have been stunning, really, I’d love to see it someday 🙂

    • Jackie B October 24, 2016 at 12:25 pm

      Right?! It’s now on my bucket list, but pretty far down– I’m fairly cheap, so I’ll wait until it’s been out for YEARS first. 😉

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