Synopsis: The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.
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.
There are few book releases that have come in the last couple of years I have been more excited for than this one. Upon the day of release I went to my local book shop and picked out the nicest copy of this I could find — ‘this’, of course, being Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the eighth story in the Harry Potter saga. The Deathly Hallows, released ten years ago now, ended the series quite remarkably, but apparently the idea for this story bounced around in JK Rowling’s head for years. Finally, writers John Tiffany and Jack Thorne wrote this screenplay (yes, it is a screenplay and not a novel) based on Rowling’s idea, and voila — into the world this book came. This screenplay is, of course, the script for the play being put on in London. Oh, how I wish I could go!
I must admit I was a bit worried when I started this story. I was scared it would lack the charm and depth of the original seven novels; I was nervous I wouldn’t like the plot or characters . . . or, worse yet, the old characters from the series would no longer sparkle and shine, no longer resemble the brilliant creations that they were when created by the hands of Rowling alone. I was relieved to find my worries were (mostly) for naught — this is a fun, sharp, and memorable read that has all the charm (and none of the fat) of the Big Seven. It’s sure to please almost any Potter fan, I would imagine . . . excluding those who are averse to screenplays.
That being said, this story is different from the Potter books that came before it. It was not actually written by Rowling at all (as far as I know) — it was written by two playwrights who used Rowling’s ideas. I’m fine with that. Most of the characters feel very real and true to the ones we have always known (with the exception of Ron, who just seems too darn goofy in this story). However, these characters are older — Harry and his friends are now forty, and dealing with teenagers of their own — so this story has a different flavor. This is, essentially, fan fiction stamped with approval by JK Rowling herself. The story’s good and the writing’s good, so I’m fine with that. It is the tale, not he (or she) who tells it.
This book is what it is. Some Harry Potter fans won’t like it, and that’s cool. It doesn’t feel like a genuine Potter story, nor do I think that was the point. It’s just a fun little glimpse into the current lives of Harry, Ginny, Hermoine, Ron, and the rest. It was nice catching up with the characters I have come to know and love — Rowling’s creations have almost become family to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed being back in the wizarding world one more time. It lacks some of the depth and originality of the series, but that did not impact my appreciation for this tale too much. I’m glad I bought Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and I would certainly recommend it to any and all Harry Potters fan who are curious about it.