I struggled long and hard whether to write a review of this…well, I can’t quite call it a book. It is part of the canon of a major literary franchise I’ve been following for the last 20 years, and I did read it, but I have a pretty strict anti-book-bashing rule on this blog. As I know from experience, authors work very hard on their books, and negative reviews crush souls. But, in the name of fairness and transparency, these playwrights aren’t really authors, and they’re never going to read this review, so…
I was very disappointed in this script. I’m about as upset that this was allowed to happen as I am about the Fantastic Beasts movie franchise – which is the George Lucas-ification of my beloved childhood series before my very eyes – but that’s another topic for another time. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is a stageplay about an adult Harry Potter and his Slytherin son, Albus Severus. Having had a crummy childhood himself, with few decent father figures, Harry struggles with how to be a good dad to a son he doesn’t quite understand. Young Albus can’t stand living in his famous father’s shadow, and takes refuge in a somewhat forbidden friendship with Scorpius Malfoy, the son of his father’s school-hood enemy, Draco.
*HERE THERE BE SPOILERS*
I’m not complaining about the above premise. What was cheap and silly was that the entire plot was Albus and Scorpius using a Time-Turner to go back in time – to the Triwizard Tournament, to the night Voldemort tried to kill Harry as a baby – essentially, to events we’ve already seen in the books. Nothing fresh, nothing new. Nothing even remotely creative. Just taking us to past events we already know all about and, in the process, retroactively ruining the series. They also show some alternative outcomes, such as if Snape had survived and Voldemort had won the Battle at Hogwarts. It was worse than fan fiction, purely speculative, with zero storytelling effort or originality. As a writer, I can’t decide whether this kind of laziness on such a grand scale saddens or outrages me. Some of us have invested our entire adolescences into this franchise (*awkwardly raises hand*). And this is the thanks we get?!
The writing was bad. The dialogue was bad. The plot was bad. The entire experience was overall so awful, I kept reading only because I was curious to see if it was possible that the ending could hit below rock-bottom, and truly disappoint me any more than I was already disappointed. The idea that Cedric Diggory – whose death was such a significant turning point in the series because he was so good, decent and innocent – would’ve turned into an evil Death Eater had he lived, is appalling and goes against the spirit of the original story. In the words of Lucius Malfoy: It’s a disgrace to the name of wizard.
If you are, or ever were, a fan of the Harry Potter series, I’d advise you to stay far away from this “book”. Certainly don’t waste your money. Read it in one sitting at your library or bookstore if you absolutely must, but it’s truly not worth the time or the damage it will do to your feelings toward the series and its author’s (lack of) integrity.
If you want to read a fan fiction script about Albus Potter that’s actually good, I’d recommend “Albus Potter and the Founders’ Fountain” by Evilolive. You can read the full script here, or listen to the performance by The Leaky Cauldron Acting Troupe on the archives of PotterCast podcast here (episodes 177, 182, 187, 193, 202 and 203).*
*I have no affiliation with the writer(s) or podcast; I was simply a listener of the pod way back in the day and enjoyed that story far more than I enjoyed “Cursed Child”.