SPOILERS AHEAD for the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child book and play. Only proceed if you haven’t read/seen the play (or don’t really care about spoilers).
First up, I am a HUGE Potterhead and always will be so I’m probably a little bias about this review, but I will try and be totally honest. The play was written by Jack Thorne and only based on a story by JK Rowling (who worked with Thorne and John Tiffany as well) so I think I would have enjoyed it more if it written by Jo BUT let’s get into it!
You have to remember that the book is actually a play, and so there won’t be as much/any internal dialogue or lots of descriptive narration and it’ll feel a lot shorter and rushed. That’s just the nature of a play – if it was a ‘proper book’ I think the story would feel a lot more thought-out and realistic. My first read-through took a couple of hours and it did feel like everything happened so quickly – it read like fanfiction because of it, where everything happens fast to move the plot along. Not the content, but just the pace of the story and character progression. Also, I didn’t like that the ‘nineteen years later’ chapter of the last book was made to feel redundant. Dialogue was changed very slightly and therefore it was difficult to believe the play as canon from the very beginning. It didn’t feel right.
In terms of character, I LOVED Scorpius. He was great and put up with so much shit from Albus, who came across as a whiny teenager a lot of the time. But Scorpius has obviously taken after his mother, Astoria, rather than his father, Draco Malfoy. I was actually surprised that Scorpius was in Slytherin. He seems more like a Gryffindor or even a Ravenclaw because he’s way too smart for his own good and has to be pretty brave to follow Albus through the bother he gets himself into. He’s fiercely loyal to his friend, just like the original trio was, which was nice to see.
Albus was a bit of a dick to his father, but I can’t really blame him because Harry was an even bigger dick to his son and even to Professor McGonagall WHICH WAS SO INFURIATING. Harry would never be threatening to her, but there he was, being a huge arsehole to what would be a pretty elderly woman by now. Bloody hell, Harry. Rose wasn’t developed enough to comment on, but from what we saw of her, she came across as a bit of a bitch.
Plot-wise, it was an interesting thing to explore and it could have been done SO well (the timeturners and alternate universes) but it kind of felt a bit… fanfiction-y again. It seemed very convenient that there was suddenly this magical timeturner that could take you back years or decades rather than hours but only lasted for a few minutes before transporting you back to your own time. Then, when the kids get stuck in time, the adults CONVENIENTLY have another one that works just perfectly. Again, I feel like it could havebeen more explained in book-form.
In fact, lots of things seemed too convenient and there wasn’t enough conflict that was drawn out to make it feel like anyone was in any actual danger. For example, Delphi managing to sneak into Hogwarts, Scorpius knowing what potions reacted with love potions, Albus knowing a spell to leave a message on a blanket that was never mentioned before in the books but is now the most important blanket in the world, Hermione leaving the timeturner in her bookcase, the kids managing to get to the forbidden forest when everyone was looking for them, Cedric turning into a death eater after losing the triwizard tournament (overreaction much?!) and probably others that I’m forgetting.
It was really obvious that Delphi was a bad guy from the beginning. It was just SO OBVIOUS. But ignoring that – SHE IS THE LOVE CHILD OF BELLATRIX… AND VOLDEMORT. Can you imagine how that went down? No? That’s because Voldemort definitely didn’t want to have sex with Bellatrix. Or anyone. It just feels like someone shipped them a little too hard and thought, “Yes! They can have a kid that’s evil!” I mean, if it wasn’t HIS DAUGHTER, but rather a random Death Eater kid that wanted to bring him back then sure, but it felt so weeeeeeird and icky that it was Voldemort’s child. Weiiiiiird. I feel like Bellatrix didn’t have time to be preggers, either. She was pretty busy, tbh.
There was also the universe where Snape was alive which felt like a thing for the fans rather than anything integral to the plot, but that’s just a small thing I’m getting picky about.
I could go on about the book for a year but I won’t because I’m sleepy and I desperately need a coffee, but I think I’ll end with an /10 rating.
It’s a Harry Potter book so I’m going to like it no matter what, but the way too fast-moving pace, convenient plot points and strange characterisation of characters we already know and love felt odd and more like a fanfiction than canon. I think it would be 100 times better to watch the play (which I’ll hopefully get to do at some point in the future). In spite of its flaws I really did enjoy going back to Hogwarts and meeting the next generation of witches and wizards and revisiting some old friends.
Wow, my review is really negative. I did enjoy the book, but it’s easier to talk about the bad points in a review! Let me know what you thought of the book (and the actual play if you’ve seen it!) down below.