Before I start with the review, I would like to list out a few facts about The Cursed Child –
- This is not a novel like the regular Harry Potter books, but is the script of a play featuring the characters and settings from the Harry Potter series.
- The Cursed Child is conceived by the trio of Rowling, Thorne and Tiffany and Thorne has been credited as the playwright.
- My review is purely based on the script as I have not watched the play.
- As most of the content of the script has been widely discussed, my review CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS. So proceed at your own risk only!
The story takes place 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts at the very same spot where JK Rowling concluded the book series. We are introduced to the new characters, mainly Albus Severus Potter, James Potter and Rose Granger-Weasley, while they are waiting for the Hogwarts Express. The central characters in the script are Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy, son of Draco Malfoy. Within the first meeting itself this duo strikes an unlikely friendship which is further strengthened when Albus gets sorted to Slytherin (giving you a moment here to catch your breath)! Albus, struggling under the expectations piled upon him for being Harry’s son, finds solace in the friendship of Scorpius, himself a victim of rumours about his parentage. As time passes, Albus becomes more and more withdrawn from his family, especially Harry. When Amos Diggory and his helper Delphini approach Harry for the use of the time turner to resurrect Cedric and gets turned down by him, Albus takes it upon himself to save the “spare” (remember Voldemort’s “Kill the spare”?). He ropes in a reluctant Scorpius to help him. From here on starts a series of misadventures by a boy with unresolved daddy issues.
Let me start with the positives of this book. It definitely helps to re-live the Harry Potter nostalgia. It gives us the right dose of Hogwarts, the Triwizard Tournament, Dumbledore, Hagrid, McGonagall and even Snape. The script gives us a wisp of the friendship between Harry, Ron and Hermione. It also takes us to the Forbidden Forest reminiscing about the numerous adventures which Harry and Ron had in there (spiders, unicorn, centaurs and what not!). The wizarding hormones will definitely be soaring through your veins while reading this book.
The unprecedented part of this book is the depiction of the Malfoys. A new side of Draco is revealed where he is an endearing husband and a protective father in addition to being an obedient son. This is a welcome change from the spoiled brat that he was in the Harry Potter books. He confesses to Harry about how envious he was of Harry’s friendship with Ron and Hermione. He also confides to Harry that, unlike his father, he just wanted to play quidditch and did not long for any powerful position in the Ministry. Scorpius Malfoy is a precocious and noble child. Even when the entire world is tormenting and harassing him, his heart is brimming with love and compassion. He is made all the more adorable by his crush on Rose Granger-Weasley. Overall, Scorpius Malfoy is a marvellously written character in the play.
In no other way did the book make any impact on me as a reader and an avid Harry Potter fan. One of the biggest disappointment was the portrayal of Hermione in one of the alternate realities. The mere suggestion that Hermione would end up as a bitter and lonely hag without Ron is sacrilegious. Hermione is a strong, independent and unconventional fantasy heroine who does not need a Prince Charming to rescue her. The portrayal of Hermione pining for Ron’s love does not do any justice to the actual character.
The undoing of The Cursed Child, for me, is in the depiction of the lead characters. Albus and Scorpius undertake a series of adventures which, many dragging pages later, leaves the world in a far worse condition than when it started. I personally do not root for Albus in the way I used to do for Harry. Harry never went in search of any adventure but was reluctantly drawn to it due to his infamous history with Voldemort. Yet, he never failed to rise to the occasion and tried his best to tackle the dangers and protect his friends. This was what had made Harry special! If Harry was a self-absorbed and impetuous little boy would we have the same soft corner for him in our hearts that we have today? Definitely no. This is why Albus Potter failed to make any impression in my mind.
Overall, this book is not a worthy heir to the Harry Potter series. It is a book about the magical world that is completely devoid of magic. Die-hard Harry Potter fans would have already read this book for sure by now. For the others out there on the fence about this book, I would suggest to skip it completely and forget that it ever was released. Not a recommended read.