Note: This is going to be a #KeepTheSecrets review, so I am mostly going to talk about impressions and feelings in a very vague way. I’m writing this fresh off finishing the play, so these are more preliminary thoughts than you usually get from me. I won’t spoil any significant plot points, but if you want to know absolutely nothing before you read for yourself, then please skip this review!
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child begins where Deathly Hallows concluded, and the opening scenes are rife with echoes that go back to the original series. Harry’s son Albus is headed off to Hogwarts, nervous about the expectations for him to live up to his father’s legacy. Though the wizarding world has been peaceful for nineteen years, the scars of the Battle of Hogwarts still linger. Meanwhile, Harry is struggling with his role as a father, partly because he never had one himself.
Overall, The Cursed Child strikes a decent balance between nostalgia and new material, though there are certainly plenty of fannish moments (and I’m sure the fandom will have a heyday with this). Plus, through the clever use of storytelling tools like dreams and memories, as well as established magical elements of the Potterverse, I got a few things that I never would have expected. The scenes with the younger characters are, understandably, less weighted with nostalgia and expectation. Interestingly, it makes a rather good metaphor for Albus trying to stand apart from his father’s legacy.
The Cursed Child is, of course, a script, not a novel. However, I found that I was able to sink right into it. I have a tendency to think of plays as hard reading, but the fact of the matter is that most of the plays I’ve read were about four hundred years old; it is the language, not the form that is the barrier. I actually quite enjoyed reading this in script form–the dialogue was generally good if occasionally a bit sappy–because I could really let my imagination loose on how the scenes could be staged. I’m dying to know how they pulled some of these scenes off, and I fully expect that the stage production has magnificent sound engineers and special effects! I think it is probably helpful to imagine a play in your mind, rather than trying to read this like a new Harry Potter novel.
I was definitely a little nervous about stepping back into Harry’s world in a new story–I reread the originals all the time–nervous enough that I decided to borrow The Cursed Child from the library rather than preorder it, in case the magic just wasn’t there. My reading notes will attest that I have a few criticisms–most of which are much too spoilery for me to even begin to touch upon–but I enjoyed my time back in the Potterverse. And I seriously wish I could get some tickets to this play.