I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in just a few hours the day I bought it. It’s captivating and magical as all Harry Potter is, but it’s not the greatest story of the saga by any means.
If you haven’t read it already and don’t want spoilers, DO NOT READ PAST THIS POINT. REALLY. I’m reviewing this one with spoilers to do it justice and because Harry Potter is just too important to me to gloss over the parts that stuck out. If you don’t mind spoilers, go on and read. BUT SERIOUSLY. SPOILERS. THEY ARE BELOW.
Cursed Child begins nineteen years after the original series lets off, with a scene we’re familiar with: Harry dropping his second son off at King’s Cross for his first year of Hogwarts. Albus Severus, afraid he’s going to be sorted into Slytherin, meets a boy on the train who is alone like himself. This is Scorpius, Draco Malfoy’s son, and the two quickly become best friends - it doesn’t hurt that Albus does indeed become a Slytherin along with Scorpius.
At the beginning of his fourth year, Albus overhears a conversation between Harry, who is Head of Magical Law Enforcement at the Ministry, and Amos Diggory. Amos is an old man, unable to let go of Cedric’s death and he begs Harry to go back in time and rescue Cedric. He believes (correctly) that the Ministry recently confiscated a Time-Turner. Amos’ nurse and niece, Delphi Diggory, befriends Albus and Scorpius when Albus decides to go behind his dad’s back and help Amos.
The trio steal the Time-Turner and head back to the beginning of the Tri-Wizard tournament, where they promptly mess up the present by changing Cedric’s past. They go back again to jinx the second task of the tournament and ruin things even further. This time, Albus doesn’t exist and Voldemort was never defeated. As a Malfoy, Scorpius rules at Hogwarts but he knows he has to change it back. He seeks out Snape, who is alive in this reality, knowing Snape might still be a double agent. Snape, along with an unmarried Hermione and Ron, helps Scorpius undo the changes he made to the past. Scorpius returns to the present and all seems to be well.
Scorpius has kept the Time-Turner and plans to destroy it with Albus. Delphi arrives and Albus explains everything that has happened but slowly realizes something is off about Delphi. Meanwhile, Harry has a dream where he realizes his son is still in danger. They figure out that it was Delphi who was last seen with them and rush to speak to Amos Diggory, but she has been confunding Amos and isn’t his niece. It's revealed that Delphi wants to bring back dark magic and is following a prophecy about saving Cedric in order to do so. (I assumed Delphi was the “bad” character the second she appeared, it was fairly obvious.) She tries to force Scorpius and Albus into helping her finish changing Cedric’s past. When that fails, she goes even further back, to that fateful night in Godric’s Hollow. She plans to convince Voldemort not to kill baby Harry so he won’t be defeated. Delphi is in fact Voldemort’s daughter and when Harry, Ron, Ginny, Hermione, and Draco realize what’s happening, they travel back as well to help Albus and Scorpius. Once they defeat her, they realize the real Voldemort has come to Godric’s Hollow. Harry is forced to live through the darkest night of his life again as they hide, knowing he can’t save his parents.
Scorpius was my favorite character. I liked his sense of humor and that he loved learning. Even when he realized that he could have it all in another reality he chose to come back and make the world a better place for everyone else. I wasn’t a Malfoy fan in the original seven books but this is one Malfoy I can get behind.
There was one small moment with Albus and Scorpius, when they’re back in the last challenge of the Tri-Wizard Tournament and accidentally run into Cedric, that really got to me. The two knew what was about to happen. They had been invested in this part of the past for so long now that they were emotionally involved and couldn’t help but pass an unrequested message along. “Your dad loves you very much.” That part hurt my heart. One scene in the movies that always makes me cry is Amos Diggory screaming, “That’s my son! That’s my boy!” as Cedric comes out of the maze dead. So Scorpius and Albus making sure Cedric knows this fact - one last time - was probably my favorite moment of the whole script.
During the story, two characters seemed to be acting completely out of character to me. Ron felt like he was just there for comedic relief. He didn’t have as big of a role in Cursed Child but I still expected more. Snape, for the brief moments when he interacted with Scorpius, was nothing like himself. Sure, it was an alternate reality, but it was Severus Snape. In that reality, he was still pretending to be a follower of Voldemort. If anything he should’ve been harsher after years of living a life he secretly detested. I thought he was just a little too helpful and understanding of Scorpius, regardless of how short the scene had to be.
I wasn’t crazy about the script format because it made it feel a little fanfiction-y. I knew that’s what it was going in, and I don’t mind reading this format in general. For Harry Potter, I’m used to the novels and JK’s brilliant storytelling. Reading something that was 99% dialogue didn’t feel right, even though I picked up on JK’s influence. I would really love to see the play since it’s obviously meant to be enjoyed in that context.
In general, the story didn’t really feel like anything new. The very beginning of Cursed Child was the final chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; the ending was another rehash of that night in Godric’s Hollow that we’ve been to a hundred times. There was so much reliving of the events in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that it just seemed like reading some new facts from that story. I can get behind the events for what they were, though. JK signed off on it so - like it or not - it’s canon. I don’t necessarily have a problem with Voldemort having a daughter, or Time-Turners coming back into the picture, or Harry having trouble relating to one of his children. I think all three of those things make sense in the bigger picture of the magical world. Voldemort was obsessed with where he came from so I can believe that he’d make an heir. It’s more believable that Time-Turners could be made again than not. And Harry’s only human, from what I know about parenting everyone goes through that stage with their kid. But I wanted to see more new stuff. I wanted to see Hermione changing the Ministry for the better. I wanted to see Harry with his other two children. I wanted to see more of McGonagall as headmistress (though really, she should be retired already). If we’re going to reopen this world after fans thought it forever closed, then give me something new!
It’s Harry Potter. There’s no way I could ever completely hate it, so I give this a 3.5 of 5. For an overview of one adventure after Voldemort is defeated, it works. It just left me wanting more. I don’t want the series to ever be beaten to death but at the same time I won’t ever say no to the magic. If I had a bucket list, I would add this play to it. “Go to Hogwarts” would be number one...