This morning I walked into the same building where I purchased Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows nine years ago – the book we all believed to be the final instalment. Until now.
It's true, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not technically "The Eighth Harry Potter Book" as many have dubbed it. It is the rehearsal script for the two-part play that has just premiered in London. However, it does start off where the seventh book left off.
Nine years ago there were hordes of readers shaking in excitement to see how Harry Potter's journey would end. Yet there were only a handful of them when I went to get a copy of The Cursed Child at its release date of 11:01am on the 31st of July here in New Zealand.
I finished reading The Cursed Child in just a few hours and I don't consider myself a particularly fast reader. True, the format is entirely different – being mainly comprised of dialogue with few descriptors – but it was that same Potter fervour that propelled me through.
Unlike a lot of readers, I never asked for or wanted a sequel showing the next generation at Hogwarts. Nor did I yearn for a prequel starring the Marauders. In fact, the only series that piqued my interest was the idea of one about Albus Dumbledore in his years leading up to becoming the man as we knew him to be. There was so much conflict and character development to explore... Alas, it will never be.
The Cursed Child was something that I was initially excited about, but then put out of my mind. Even leading up to the release date, I hadn't pre-ordered a copy. Yet the night before its release it hit me. I knew I would be at the bookstore at 11:01.
Now I've read it.
To be perfectly candid – and to quote Cecily Cardew "I think that whenever someone has anything unpleasant to say, one should always be quite candid" – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is hard to swallow as canon. It's an odd notion, because while the play may have been penned by Jack Thorne, he co-conceived the story with John Tiffany and J.K. Rowling herself.
This is the part where I will go into some spoilers, but I won't dissect the book because, frankly, I feel thoroughly confunded. However, SPOILER WARNING. You have been warned. Please do not cast any Unforgivable Curses my way.
It is curious to me that the play chose to incorporate two of the biggest causes for disgruntlement in the Harry Potter fandom. It expands on the epilogue, which so many people – myself not included – detested, and it heavily incorporates the use of time travel, which many readers have been iffy about. Mainly the fact that it popped up and then went away. Surprise, it's back! I suppose that's the real reason I find Harry Potter and the Cursed Child so hard to take in as canon. It weaves together so many different realities, that I’m unsure how seriously to take depictions of certain characters. When Snape is acting like Sirius in one reality and Hermione is acting like Snape in another, it gets incredibly confusing.
To speak with perfect candour, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child reads like a trippy fanservice. Which isn't to say that I didn't enjoy it and – clearly – thoroughly devoured it. I suppose it's just something that takes time to digest. I never expected there to be another instalment in the Harry Potter universe – in whatever form – and now I and many other fans will have to adjust to this expansion.
My favourite parts about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child would have to be the friendship between Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy, along with each and every instance Ron and Hermione were together. Their dynamic has always been one of my favourite aspects of the Harry Potter series, and it was wonderful to read. I do wish that Rose Granger-Weasley had been more prevalent in the story. I was under the impression that we would have another Hogwarts trio – Albus, Scorpius and Rose – but I was mistaken.
I would love to be able to see the play performed. Many times while reading the stage directions I wondered how certain effects might be pulled off. I am incredibly jealous of those who do get the chance, and I think it might give a more well-rounded impression of the story to see it brought to life on stage.
All in all, I have no regrets in reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I thoroughly recommend that you read it for yourself, and I look forward to discussing it with other fervent Harry Potter fans.