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Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child | Book Review, Spoilers and Qs.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Review

I warn you now, there are spoilers in this post, so if you've not had the chance to read it yet.. look away! (unless you want to know what happens...)

The screenplay for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child made its way into shops and into our hands (and hearts) on July 31st to celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Philosopher's Stone, which was first released back in 1996. Having grown up with the series, and my wizarding world made real with the 8 incredible films, I couldn't wait to get my hands on the screenplay - in book form. So excited for it's release in fact, that I pre-ordered it weeks ago! A lovely guy from Amazon turned up on my doorstep on Sunday evening and handed over the hardback as if it were a holy scripture.. at least.. to me.. it was. (Or so I hoped)

As a Potterhead (I have a tattoo and everything), I've been wanting to know more for 9 years. 9 long years we've waiting for JK Rowling to give us more. Except this time.. in a different medium. The West End play was written, with the help and input from John Tiffany and Jack Thorne.  Written in two parts, and the tickets.. gold dust of course, so fans were overjoyed to discover they could still have their questions answered without travelling to London or spending a fortune on tickets. I had to know what happened to Harry, Ron, Hermione and their kids. I had to know whether Voldemort returned.. as after all.. It's bound to happen isn't it?

The Harry Potter series have been my fastest reads out of any books I've read.. okay I haven't actually read that many.. but I'm a slow reader, so completing a book in one day is a personal achievement for me. 

With Hermione as Minister for Magic, Harry as Head of Magical Law Enforcement, and Ron as... well.. Ron.. the trio have to face their pasts, presents and alternate presents with help of a Time-Turner - a rare, forbidden piece of magic nowadays. This story however is focussed on their children.. Harry and Ginny's middle child to be precise, along with Draco Malfoy's boy Scorpius. In a quest to go back in time (yep.. cheese-fest already) to save Cedric Diggory (we can all dream) they discover that altering the past can significantly change the present/future. Well.. duh.. But they alter things so much that Albus Severus Potter ceases to exist as his father, Harry, in an alternate past actually dies in the Battle of Hogwarts. Leaving it up to Draco's only child, Scorpius to 'save the day' and rally the troops - an outlawed Ron and Hermione and Severus Snape. (RIP Alan Rickman! Always in our hearts, Always with us.. Always </3) to defeat the Headmistress of Hogwarts - Dolores Umbridge - yep that bitch. 
Upon saving Cedric, by humiliating him out of the Triwizard Tournament, he becomes so enraged he becomes a Death Eater, kills Neville Longbottom (meaning Nagini isn't killed, meaning Voldemort isn't defeated) thus meaning the end of Harry Potter and the rise of Voldemort and the Augurey (a signifier of death) who actually turns out to be Tom Riddle's daughter - Delphini (Delphi) - a very skilled dark witch who pretends to be Cedric's cousin to help the two Slytherin students (yep, a Potter in Slytherin!) to get them to change the past (for her own benefit of course).

But that's not all that's shocking.. going back to 1981, the very day Voldemort killed the Potters, Delphi tries to stop her father - He who must not be named - from attacking Lily Snr, James Snr and baby Harry in order to rewrite history and stop the whole 'Boy who Lived' prophecy in the first place, meaning Voldemort, at his strongest, would be able to take over the wizarding world. And the world can actually become that alternate present where Voldy-babes rules over.

This is a lot to digest I know!

Obviously the good guys win.. and there's plenty of magic thrown in the mix, along with father-son relationship issues, and other emotional problems that normal people face when learning about parenting on the job. 

As much as the story answers a few questions that have been burning at the back of my mind for all these years,  there are however have some unanswered questions about this new story, including things that just don't add up for me.

Firstly,  theres an issue of age for me.. In Act 1 Scene 5, Hermione mentions they are aged 40. But this doesn't quite add up. Back in 1994/1995 during the Triwizard Tournament, the trio are supposed to be 14/15.. assuming the play is set in 2016, they would only be a maximum of 38.. not 40. Unless of course, she was exaggerating about her age. Who knows.

Secondly, Delphi is supposed to be the Daughter of Bellatrix Lestrange and Voldemort.. I know right?! Weird. Her birth is said to have occurred just before the Battle of Hogwarts.. but in the books, and film.. there is no indication of Bellatrix being pregnant and she certainly would not have given birth just before going to battle? Would she? Unless Delphi was conceived by magical means, and basically created out of thin air, and the pregnancy lasting about a day, this doesn't seem plausible.. Also, being a new mother, would Bellatrix really be as cold hearted as normal and attack Ginny the way she did? And since when did Bellatrix have a husband called Rodolphus?! If Voldemort could be reborn out of a hand from Peter Pettigrew, a bone of his father and some of Harry's blood, I'm sure he could have conjured an heir without anyone's help or eggs. Also, if she was born just before the battle, I would have thought he would have given himself an extra lifeline by making her a Horcrux. A Horcrux Harry would never be able to destroy - a newborn baby? No way.

Delphi's cover story about her being Cedric's cousin, also isn't plausible - obviously it was a lie.. but as back stories go.. this one wasn't particularly well thought through and I'm surprised they didn't see through it sooner.  She goes on about having known Cedric - or at least gives that impression. She supposedly was born when Harry was 18-ish, so would still make her 20 years old now, meaning she wasn't even alive when Cedric's was! Delphi even calls Amos Diggory (Cedric's dad) 'Uncle' and he doesn't say otherwise - despite not having any siblings to actually have a niece. Maybe he thought it was one of those nicknames? Like calling a parents' friend "Aunty"? 

Finally, how did Draco Malfoy not know of her existence?! Surely as his father being such a loyal follower to the Dark Lord, and Narcissa, Draco's mother being Bellatrix's sister, he would surely know of the existence of a newborn cousin. Or at least noticed that his aunt was pregnant or been aware of the plan. Yet he seems shocked to learn of this apparent strangers parentage. It all seems a bit overlooked and not very well thought out..

One question that's been burning throughout this whole series.. is where do the younger witches and wizards go to school? Muggles.. obviously.. go to nursery then primary school. But if Hogwarts only accepts students at 11 (year 7 age), where do they learn how to read and write? Do the parents teach them? Was this revealed in past books?

Was it better or worse having it as a play than as a novel? I think they are on par personally. I liked how easy the play was to read, to follow, and there wasn't so much narrative as there is in the books, just simple scene setting. You can almost use your memory and knowledge to build the scenes, the characters etc for yourself, so I think with this far into the series, a script is perfect. It made it very easy to digest and a lot quicker to read. The only thing I didn't like, was trying to envisage the stage dressings. Scenes seemed to last 2 minutes (1-3 pages) and they were so jumpy from classroom to Harry's home to the Ministry, that I can't forsee how this would look on stage - chopping and changing stage props every few minutes. All seems very chaotic. 

There are two things however, which I think would ruin this completely for me.. The magic and the cast. 

Although I've heard amazing things about the quality of 'magic' illusions within the stage play, however, personally, nothing but CGI, and our imaginations of course, could ever do the wizarding world's charms and spells justice. The flashes of light, the levitating, flying etc.. I think it would look so cheesy and odd with puffs of smoke, strobe lights and wire harnesses. Having studied Film and TV production at uni, the 'magic' was ruined for me anyway after studying CGI and how it all works. Then visiting the Harry Potter Studios and actually seeing the green screen, robotics etc. and watching behind the scenes videos really spoiled it for me. But it also made it seem all that more impressive, seeing the amount of work that went into it all. But seeing the cast on strings I think would just make it all a bit of a joke.. But we'll see. Maybe I get the chance to watch it one day. *hint hint*

The actors are another factor which I feel would ruin the magic for me. The films were really what brought the books to life for me, as I have always been more of a visual person. Questionable though their acting was, Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson to me ARE Ron, Harry and Hermione and always will be. No one can play them in my mind, same goes for all other cast members which appeared in the original films. With the reappearance of Umbridge, Dumbledore, Diggory, and most importantly, Snape - it just wouldn't sit right having different actors play them. Especially as stage actors typically play more than one role. I read Snape's part in Alan Rickman's infamous low, slow voice, I just can't see another actor doing his justice. But again, we shall see about that, hopefully. 

I love that my childhood series has continued, how ever odd and random the story line may be. I also love that Rowling is exploring other mediums after her foray into the Pottermore website, giving fans snippets of secrets into the wizarding world. First in the play, and accompanying script, but also in the spin-off prequels coming to the big screens including 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' hitting cinemas later this year, Rowling is really treating the Potter fans!

I do however, feel that the story has been milked a little, and the whole time travelling, butterfly effect storyline was a bit overkill for me. I was a bit disappointed, but also really glad that it was released as it has answered some questions, and given me that bit of closure we were never given before. I feel that the cliffhanger that the books were left on - not knowing whether the trio lived a normal adult life - or did Voldemort return. The unknown was bliss, painful bliss.

I would love for there to be more novels in the series, to follow the new young wizards on adventures - with new villains, tasks, challenges and friendships. But again, that might be further over-kill.

If you've not read the screenplay yet - I'm sorry, I've just spoiled it all for you, but I would definitely recommend reading it. You can purchase it from Tesco's for just £9! (Cheapest I've seen)

Have you read the screenplay? What were your thoughts?


  1. I loved the honest review. I have been hearing amongst the same lines.
    It all seems a bit convoluted to me and unnecessary.
    I don't think I will be picking up a copy of the book any time soon, but maybe just a digital copy. Not sure yet.

    1. I haven't met anyone yet that's THAT happy with it tbh! It's such a shame though, I had such high hopes! The story line is silly and a bit of a weak attempt. Reads like fan fiction if anything!

      And it really takes a LOT for me to bad mouth my favourite thing of all time.. so you know its bad.

      I would def read it though, it does answer a couple questions!


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