Armchair Book Club: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Resident book reviewer Heather Allen explores the latest trip to Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

The news travelled faster than a golden snitch in a Quidditch match: to the delight of millions, a new Harry Potter book has just been released. Well, sort of. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is actually a special rehearsal edition script of a play that is currently debuting in London. And, it’s not entirely by J.K. Rowling either.

In fact the subject of authorship is somewhat complex. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a new play by Jack Thorne, based on an original story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne. So is this really a new Harry Potter or just a marketing scheme? And, is it even worth reading?

After staying up late to finish, I can happily quote Ron Weasley: “It’s brilliant!” This spellbinding new story is fresh, intriguing and has the stamp of Rowling’s unique imagination.

Ironically, because this book is written as a play, the reading experience is actually improved. In the original series, each book became fatter than the last. It appeared that with each book less editing was done to keep the excesses of Rowling’s fantastic imagination in check. This play is a brilliant way to get back to the essentials of what makes Harry Potter so fantastic.

It also satisfies a need to explore a different plot. After seven books, I was hoping that Harry Potter and Cursed Child would have little to do with Hogwarts house points, or the rise of a mostly, but not totally dead, Voldemort.

Set 19 years after the original series, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child begins with Harry Potter’s and Draco Malfoy’s children meeting for the first time. As the surprises start within pages, I can’t divulge more of the plot, except to say that it is wholly original, while still maintaining all of the trademark entertaining plot twists. Rowling and her cohorts have found an ingenious new way to explore the magical world of Harry Potter.

Before starting the book, I had hopes that this play might soon be staged at a nearby theatre. Even thinking that one day it might become a staple high school production. But it becomes clear from the opening scene that this is an over-the-top production with countless scene changes, magically levitating and disappearing objects, transmogrifying, and much more.

Even in London or on Broadway, it’s a pretty ambitious undertaking. All the more reason to hope to see it one day.

 

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