This review is a difficult one to write.
From the day I first learned about this eighth installment in the Harry Potter series I’ve had very conflicted feelings about reading it. Prior to its release day I had convinced myself that reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child would be a mistake, that the risk of being disappointed was much too high. But my feelings began to change as more and more people read and discussed this rather polarizing script. It seemed as though nearly everyone had a strong opinion about the story, either praising it highly or pointing out its flaws. Part of me felt left out of the conversation, and I decided that the only way for me to jump in was to read the script and form an opinion of my own.
Now here I am, on the other side as a contributor to this ongoing conversation. I’ve finally read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and, unfortunately, I did not love it. To be honest, I didn’t really even like it. After flipping the final page I was left with a sour taste in my mouth: disappointment.
One of my biggest critiques of this addition to the Harry Potter world is that it didn’t feel like one at all. It’s immediately obvious that J.K. Rowling played a small role in the actual writing of the script because the style, tone, and portrayal of characters are completely different from that of the original series. I understand that the fact that it’s a script instead of a novel contributes to these differences, but that’s also a factor that the writers should have taken into account. As a loyal fan of the Harry Potter series, I was expecting a similar written quality of work with this new installment; however, that is not what I feel has been delivered.
This difference in writing style is extremely noticeable in the way the characters are portrayed. Harry Potter fans know these beloved characters like the backs of our hands, so why would the writers reduce these complex personalities to mere shells of what they once were? Harry is frustratingly unlikable, Hermione has lost her sharp wit, and Ron’s sole purpose in the play seems to be as a source of comic relief. The only character that feels remotely close to his original personality is Dumbledore, though he plays but a small role in this new story. Once again, I understand that because this story takes place nineteen years after the original series ends it is therefore natural for their personalities to have changed over time. However, it often does not even feel as though Harry, Ron, and Hermione are lifelong friends. At times the members of this terrific trio treat each other almost as acquaintances. The odd changes made to these characters’ personalities is frustrating, disappointing, and simply nonsensical.
Another significant critique of this script is that it feels unnecessary. Nothing about the story made me feel as though it is an important, relevant, or essential addition to the original series. Where do we end by the conclusion of the play? Quite close to where we started, unfortunately, with the exception of some slight character development. No exciting secrets are revealed, no past questions are answered, and the plot does not even directly connect to that of the original series in any significant way. It is clear that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is an afterthought, an extension of a beloved magical world that was not initially planned for. After finishing this script, a saddening question lingered in my mind: What is the point of this play in the first place?
While this review has been rather scathing thus far, I will admit that there are a few positive aspects I should mention. For instance, I really enjoyed Scorpius’ funny personality as well as his optimistic attitude towards life in general. Moreover, despite my harsh criticism, it was fun to return to the world of Harry Potter once again. More than anything, though, this story filled me with a desire to reread the original series. This reading experience was nothing if not nostalgic.
So, where does that leave me, a lifelong fan of Harry Potter who is unhappy with this recent addition to the series? Disappointed, frustrated, and surprised are a few adjectives to describe how I’m currently feeling. However, I don’t regret my decision to read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Now I’m able to form my own opinion of this story, albeit a rather negative one.
My Rating: :0) :0) 2 out of 5. It pains me to give such a low rating to a Harry Potter story, but it’s an honest reflection of my opinions.
Would I recommend it to a friend?: Despite my negative review, I would still recommend this script to Harry Potter fans. I’ve heard numerous glowing reviews o it, so it’s possible that your reading experience could be much more positive than mine.
Have you read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? How do you feel about the script specifically or the release of an additional Harry Potter story in general? Let me know in the comments section below!