Anna’s Adventure: “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”

One of my favorite things about summer break is that I actually have time to read for pleasure rather than for a class. Every summer, like an annual tradition, I dust off my absolute favorite seven books, the “Harry Potter” series. Every summer, I read all seven books over again, as if I don’t know what is going to happen or I haven’t memorized the works almost in their entirety. With each new read, I challenge myself to notice something new or make some connection that I hadn’t before.

As I pulled my books off the shelf this year for their annual read, I had a new excitement that I hadn’t felt in nine years. This summer, I would not just be reading seven books, but there would be a new addition to the collection – the eighth installment to the “Harry Potter” series, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” As soon as I could, I went to the bookstore, paid for the book in fall, and received a golden voucher that I would trade for the book come July 31.

When the release date finally came, I anxiously waited in line until midnight and then rushed home to break open this new story, this book that when reading I would really not know what was coming next.

There were some aspects about this book that made me slightly concerned about the quality of the story. The first concern was that this story was not written by J.K. Rowling, the creator of the “Harry Potter” universe, but rather she was more of a consultant. Looking at the cover of the book and all of the posters promoting the book, Rowling’s name is listed right under the title in very noticeable font size. However, upon closer inspection, the reader discovers this eighth installment is actually written by Jack Thorne. The cover may not overtly express the change in authorship, but the inside content does. To me, the change in voice and overall content was obvious. A change in voice is expected as these are two different authors; however, it was more jolting to me as an avid Harry Potter reader, who has never experienced this drastic change in the way the story was presented.

The second concern I had was that this story was told in the form of a script book rather than the standard novel. This concern, in my opinion, ended up being a valid one. In Rowling’s previous novels, readers have been able to completely immerse themselves in her universe through her expert use of imagery in her storytelling. With “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” being presented as a play, it seemed that a lot of this rich imagery was lost. It was also more difficult to capture the attitudes of the characters simply through use of their dialogue, which made them appear to be a bit disconnected from the characters in Rowling’s novels.

By the afternoon of July 31, I had completed reading the script book. I was left with a sense of unrest. I thought that through this book I would have a sense of closure. The seventh book ends with a short epilogue, which takes place 19 years after the defeat of Voldemort. Fans got a little taste of Harry’s future, but, for many fans, that epilogue was not enough. This book, at least to me, was an opportunity to get to see more of how Harry’s life unfolded after defeating the Dark Lord. It was also an opportunity to see how his children’s lives were. In fact, this is the main story line of the book, exploring the relationship between Harry and his son, Albus. This turbulent relationship between Harry and Albus came across as a cliché conflict between father and son within itself. This was not what I was expecting when imagining the life of Harry Potter. I feel like many decisions were made in this book just to go against what was expected, which I think took away from the book.

Along with the plot of Harry’s relationship with his son, there are also several other mini-plots within the script book. Sometimes this can lead to a nicely layered story; however, in this case, it just seemed confusing and as if the author had several small ideas and just squeezed them all into one story. In many places, the plot either did not match information from the previous book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” or the plot just seemed to have a shaky foundation that needed much more explanation than what was provided in the script book.

I deeply enjoyed being able to open a Harry Potter book that told a new story, a story that I had no idea what was going to happen. However, as a Harry Potter fan, I fall in with the group that does not recommend reading “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” It gave me the opportunity to fall back into the wizarding world, but it was not quite the same as when Rowling was at the helm. The plot was shaky at best and consisted of too many ideas; many of the characters did not seem to be true to the characters represented in the seven books before this one; and the script presentation seemed to take away something from the story. I have hope that the play performance does the story more justice than the script book, but, as for the book, I could have done without.