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August 02, 2016

Book Review: 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child'

Books Opinion
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Sinead Cummings/PhillyVoice

The script-book of "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" was released at midnight on July 30 -- just in time for both J.K. Rowling and Harry's birthdays on July 31.

An eighth story. It's something the Harry Potter Generation hoped for but wasn't sure would ever materialize. Then J.K. Rowling announced the play "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" and fans hoped they'd wished for the right thing. No one wants to see their favorite author misstep, especially when it comes to beloved characters.

  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
  • By J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany
  • Arthur A. Levine Books
  • Published: July 31

Thankfully, the consensus among those who have seen and reviewed the play, at the Palace Theatre in London, has been positive, with many praising the complexity of the story and the special effects. For those of us who can't just hop on a plane to the U.K. to see a play, the script for "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" — written by playwright Jack Thorne and based on an original story by Rowling, Thorne and director John Tiffany — was released to the masses on July 31.

Nineteen years have passed since the Battle of Hogwarts and Harry is now a middle-aged father working at the Ministry of Magic. The script picks up right where the final pages of "Deathly Hallows" leave off: Platform 9 3/4 at the King's Cross train station, where Harry has taken his middle child to send off on his first year at Hogwarts. 

"Deathly Hallows" assured us that "all was well" for Harry on its final page, but "Cursed Child" makes it clear that the same cannot be said of his son Albus Severus Potter — a boy whose three famous names carry some serious baggage. 

Albus hasn't found a way to connect with his father, but he does find an ally in Scorpius Malfoy, another boy struggling with his moniker.

The script moves hastily through Albus' first and second year at Hogwarts and lands on his third year, where — in typical Potter form — he overhears a strange conversation between Amos Diggory and his father. Amos wants to use a time-turner to rewrite history and save his son Cedric from the tragic fate he suffered in "Goblet of Fire." 

A pained Harry refuses, but an angry Albus has an idea — he just needs Scorpius' help. What happens from there is fast-paced, suspense-filled and stay-up-all-night-reading worthy. 

The action is exciting, but the heart of the story is found in the scenes related to Harry and Albus' relationship. Can the orphan be the type of father he always yearned for, or has being Harry Potter left him clueless on how to connect with his child?

We may not get to watch the spells fly around the theater — and Rowling's trademark descriptive prose is sorely missed — but the familiar names, places and dialogue are enough to conjure up the Harry Potter Universe. 

Harry giving his son James the invisibility cloak and Albus his only keepsake from his parents is touching. Ron helping George to run Weasley Wizard Wheezes causes a pang of sadness. The many, many kisses between Ron and Hermione are satisfying. 

An eighth story wasn't necessary, but longtime fans will appreciate the opportunity to rekindle the magic.