I have been counting down feverishly to the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for MONTHS, and on Saturday night at midnight, like so many other die-hard Potter fans around the world, I finally got my hands on it.
I don’t need to explain what this eighth story means for Potter fans: it’s like coming home, revisiting the magic we fell in love with when we were kids, and feeling like that magic won’t ever end. It meant reading more about the characters and where they ended up, and for me, it meant being immersed in that amazing world again. And even though this story is only in the form of a scriptbook, most of us had little to no doubt that the last story would shine as bright as the other installments. However, after reading the book, a lot of people felt a little disappointed. Here’s what I thought.
What I loved:
1. Harry and Ginny’s marriage. Some of my favorite scenes of the story involved the conversations between Harry and Ginny, getting to see their dynamic as a couple. I shipped Harry/Ginny hard back in 2005, and knowing that their marriage is solid was so sweet to read!
2. Ginny’s incredible personality peeking through. Ginny is my favorite character, so knowing she had a successful Quidditch career and then a second career as a newspaper editor was AWESOME. I also loved how she was as a wife and as a person: she told Harry off, was bold, brave, and loving, and she was treated as a full equal by Harry. In my opinion, there’s still not enough of her in the books, but I won’t be fully satisfied unless Jo decides to write the entire series over in her voice.
3. That Ron and Hermione are a happy, loving couple. YES! Not only are Ron and Hermione still married, they’re happily married, and free of couples’ therapy. Throughout the story, it’s clear that these two people are meant for each other, despite their differences, and that they balance each other out so well that being away from each other causes deep unhappiness. With Hermione, Ron is funny, loving, and confident. With Ron, Hermione is more level-headed, gentler, and stronger. I love that this story reaffirms their love.
4. That Hermione is a bad ass witch and the Minister for Magic to boot. HERMIONE ROCKS.
5. Being able to re-explore themes of good and evil, what it means to be brave, what it means to be kind, and the importance of family. Jo’s voice and prints are all over this story, from exploring friendships, like the one between Albus and Scorpius, to examining father-son relationships and a different kind of bravery: one that allows you to see and accept others the way they truly are, instead of how you think or wish they would be.
6. Getting to know Albus and Scorpius as Slytherins, and thus getting to know Slytherin House as more than just the place where the Death Eaters’ kids ran amok. The next generation of witches and wizards didn’t grow up in between two wars, so naturally, the culture at Hogwarts has changed. I liked that Albus was in Slytherin, because it shows that no house is pure evil. I also loved Scorpius as a kind, gentle, smart, sensible Slytherin, and Draco’s son.
7. Seeing the Wizarding World again. The Ministry of Magic, seeing the trio dial “62442,” and revisiting scenes from the original series was hella magical.
What I didn’t love so much:
1. That Harry Potter is less brave than he used to be. One of my biggest issues with the story was Harry’s actions: he treats Amos Diggory less sensitively than I would expect, and definitely treats his son Albus with anger and derision. The anger I get, but the Harry of the original series, I feel, would be a much more sensitive and caring father, especially considering he never had one.
2. That Voldemort has a daughter. The more I think about how batshit crazy Bellatrix was, the more sense this makes, but pulling a daughter out of thin air felt weird to me. Also, Voldemort…doing that? CAN’T PICTURE IT, DON’T WANT TO.
3. That it read like fan fiction. A lot of people found this to be true, so I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
4. That the plot was based heavily upon a premise I found silly. I was not a huge fan of the time-travel angle, because I was sort of unsettled by how easy it was to change the entire course of the series simply by changing minor events like Cedric’s performance in the Triwizard Tournament. Also: he would never become a Death Eater. I disliked the time travel angle because, like the Voldemort-daughter thing, it felt too easy and too cliched. It brought up too many opportunities for plot holes, and was much less subtle and well-planned than the time travel scenes in The Prisoner of Azkaban. That said, I did love that final scene at Godric’s Hollow. YOU KNOW THE ONE.
5. The dialogue. The dialogue was a bit cheesy to me, but I recognize that on stage, it would work much better.
When I think about the flaws in this story, it’s true that most of them wouldn’t be an issue onstage. The scriptbook is hardly the best medium to deliver this story, and it’s true that I’ve read glowing reviews of the performance. Despite its flaws, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the Potter story we’ve all been waiting for, and maybe now that it’s been told, HARRY CAN FINALLY HAVE SOME PEACE IN HIS LIFE.