Harry Potter & The Cursed Child – JK Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

I didn’t plan to read this book.  I loved the original 7 Harry Potter books – children’s school stories form one of my many collections, although they are mostly vintage stories – and I’m not really fussed about finding out what happened next.  However, when your nearest and dearest buys you a book for your birthday it would be rude not to read it.

I started it expect to find it hard going and not terribly interesting.  I don’t mind reading plays but it’s always easier to read them if you know the story and are reading to delve deeper into the language or to understand nuances you didn’t quite catch when seeing it on stage.  Actually, I found it very easy to read and would have completed it in one sitting if I’d had the time.

I enjoyed finding out what the alternative ending to the original Harry Potter story might have been had certain things gone a different way.  I’m not sure how the authors came to their conclusions about some of the characters though.  At least one of them seems inexplicable to me (it’s difficult to be more explicit without spoiling the story for anyone who hasn’t read the book or seen the play but who is planning to).

I think Albus, as the central character in the play, is believable.  I can imagine that life is hard for the child of famous parents, trying to find their way in world and make their own mark.  It’s also credible that a child trying to find their own way would make friends with someone the rest of their family might disapprove of.

I did struggle with the idea of Voldemort having a child and that child remaining unknown for 19 years.  And if the child did manage to remain unknown how, when the Death Eaters have been defeated, did she learn about her parents and about the Dark Arts?  It just doesn’t add up.

Nor does it add up that the Potters and Granger-Weasleys would suddenly become friends with one of their arch-enemies from the original series.

I think these last two points highlight the main problem of this book for me.  It is a script and so you don’t get to find out what the characters are thinking, what their back story is or what their motivations are.  One of the joys of the original books was the gradual unfolding of the story and the build-up of the characters so you understood why they were who they were.  Of necessity a play can’t give you this same depth.

Did I enjoy reading it?  Yes, with reservations, but unlike the books in the original series I don’t think it will be a book I return time after time.

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