Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two (Harry Potter #8), by Jack Thorne (with input from J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany)

Eight stars

Having completed the seven novels in the Harry Potter series, I sought a little extra Potter-ing. I turned to the controversial (by some) eighth story in the series, which has its beginnings in the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Some call this blasphemy and a piece of fan fiction that tries to line the pockets of a few. While I will permit those folks to suck on the lemons and lick their theatrical wounds, I dove in to see how this piece might be developed for the stage, penned by Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, with the support and guidance of J.K. Rowling. Working with a new generation of Hogwarts students and some additional drama from the past, the story seems to work well and offers Potter fans some insights into how things turned out and what struggles remain. Sit back and enjoy, though reading (or listening) to this may force the brain through some somersaults, as it is in script form. Then again, this should be easy for Potter fans, as it’s a literary format Muggles can digest with ease!

Taking place two decades after the reader last saw their favourite characters, the piece begins at King’s Cross Station. Here, the next generation of Potter, Granger, and Weasley children are headed off to Hogwarts. Albus Potter and Rose Granger-Weasley prepare for their first year, eager to see what awaits them. Albus worries about which House he will be delegated to, though others are sure that the answer is a foregone conclusion. On the ride, Albus befriends Scorpius Malfoy, the son of Draco, which proves interesting for fans of the Harry Potter series.

At the annual ceremony, Scorpius is sent Slytherin, as is Albus Potter, a shock to everyone. Rose follows the family tradition and ends up a Gryffindor, continuing the familial magical aptitude. Due to whispers of a Malfoy progenation issue, Scorpius is rumoured to be the offspring of the Dark Lord, through a mysterious time-travel capability, thus earning him unsubstantiated vilification.

Draco Malfoy is also tormented these rumors and asks Harry Potter for a statement that all time-turners have all been destroyed. Harry, holding a high bureaucratic position in the Ministry of Magic, cannot offer concrete reassurances and receives a visit by Amos Diggory and his niece Delphi. They ask Harry to use a time-turner and save Cedric, the Hogwarts student who died at the Triwizard tournament after being an innocent victim of Lord Voldemort. Again, Harry is non-committal, though the issue does pique his interest.

During a school holiday, Albus and Harry argue about former’s difficulties at school. Fuelled by a gift that Albus feels is both useless and empty, Harry admits something that is painful to the younger Potter. Soon thereafter, Harry’s scar begins to hurt for the first time since the death of the Dark Lord almost twenty years before.

Albus and Scorpius learn of the Diggory plea and agree to help them by using a time-turner. They promise to visit the Triwizard Tournament and stop Cedric from dying. After sneaking into the Ministry offices, they steal a time-turner and plan to sabotage Cedric, thereby ensuring he cannot make it to the final round.

Harry and Draco discover the boys outside Hogwarts after their first trip to the past, as the time-turner has a limited usage time. Learning of their plan, Harry senses evil around Albus and forbids him to have anything to do with the Malfoys, as it can only lead to new and horrible evils. It seems that no matter the generation, Hogwarts tends to show similarities in family trees.

After meddling with time, small changes in the present occur, from the elder generation marrying others, to different employment, and even an altered reality that sees Harry Potter having lost the battle with Voldemort. Scorpius visits Severus Snape, who is still alive in this narrative. Through use of the time-turner, Snape can rectify the changes made at the Triwizard Tournament, though new horrors occur when the Scorpius returns to the new present.

Scorpius learns his lesson and seeks to destroy the time-turner once and for all. He takes it to Delphi but her true parentage is finally revealed, which sends shockwaves through many. Another travel back to the Triwizard Tournament seeks to use Cedric to help ensure that Voldemort is able to cement his power over everyone, though something goes wrong and Delphi must make a drastic decision.

After Delphi takes the boys to an unknown time, they discover that she has plans to deal with baby Harry Potter, ensuring that he is killed alongside his parents. Worried, Albus and Scorpius send a message through time, in hopes that Harry and the others will discover it in time and can save them.

When the elders arrive back in time, they lure Delphi away from the younger boys, tricking her and forcing an admission as to her parentage, which puts the entire narrative into perspective. A powerful duel occurs and Harry is forced to battle the forces of evil once again, all to save his family and the world from another evil-doer. Will Potter have it in him again to confront those who would harm his world?

This is definitely a less intense piece, after some of the latter novels really caught me in a web of despair. While Neo and I have enjoyed all eight movies based on the novels, I was intrigued to see how this would be presented on stage (or cinematically). New characters and returning themes pepper this piece, which adds depth to an already exciting Rowling series. As I mention above, some dislike the play and seek to smear it, but it’s best to let them whinge, so they feel validated. I have tried to keep an open mind and enjoy it, which I did. It may not be as powerful as most of the Rowling novels, but one cannot live solely in black and white without expecting to keep one’s head stuck in grey clouds!

The entire cast of this piece offer the reader something exciting and the opportunity to think outside the box. From the new Potter lead through to some of the melting of frigid pasts between the Potters and Malfoys, the story offers newness and some wonderful twists that series fans may not have expected. I enjoyed how this was developed, yet not completely erasing the past differences between Harry and Draco. There are many characters who return from the novels, but also a slew of new ones in which the reader can find new attachments. As mentioned before, to see how they would present themselves on the stage intrigues me even more. Heck, I would love to see more adventures from them, though the Potter traditionalists would likely have a coronary.

I enjoyed the narrative as it developed throughout this piece, able to see progress in the plot without having to suspend what I know about the Potter series too much. There were moments of intrigue, of entertainment, and even of pulling the past drama into the current era. Working with some degree of fantasy, the writers kept throwing the reader something new and exciting. I’d read more, be their stage plays, short stories, or even full novels. I enjoyed how things were balanced throughout the four acts and can only hope that Rowling would authorise it. Her current literary issues could surely use a distraction.

Kudos, Messrs. Tiffany and Thorne, for allowing me to see a new perspective of the Potter world. Don’t let the haters get to you, as they are more than likely Muggles who just don’t understand.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons