Author: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publishing Date: July 2016
Number of Pages: 327
Nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts…
It was always difficult being Harry Potter, and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and a father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son, Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: Sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
When Harry Potter waived goodbye to his sons, James Sirius and Albus Severus, during the conclusion of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the last book of the seven-installment series, Potterheads thought they would no longer be given a glimpse of the world of wizardry. J.K. Rowling kept releasing materials about the world of wizardry but none was directly related to the continuation of Harry Potter’s story.
Then came the stage production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Potterheads the world over erupted in euphoria because their life-long wish has been granted.
And so begins our reentry into the wonderful world of wizardry, witchcraft, magic and adventure. It has been 19 years since Lord Voldemort spawned a reign of terror over the world of wizardry. The rapscallion’s wicked plans were thwarted by the boy who lived and his friends during the Battle of Hogwarts. Peace since then took over, with it the growth and development of the world of wizardry’s favorite wizard.
Since Lord Voldemort’s fall from grace, Harry and Ginny got married and had three children. Hermione and Ron, the unlikely pair, also tied the knot and had children of their own. Hogwarts of Witchcraft and Wizardry rose from the vestiges of the war and is now adeptly administered by the valiant Professor Minerva McGonagall, former Gryffindor head of house. But just when everyone thought that the peace would last, trouble began brewing over the horizon.
In the eight “installment” of the Harry Potter series, Albus Severus Potter takes the spotlight from his prominent father. His father’s popularity weighed down on the son, hence, making him feel like a disappointment, not only to his father but to the entire world of magic. Equally gloomy is Scorpius Malfoy, Draco Malfoy’s son. In each other, Albus Severus and Scorpius forged a friendship grounded on their ineptness to live up to the perceived expectations born out of their famous and powerful fathers.
Harry, Hermione and Ron had limited participation in the story although they played key roles in the significant events. In their limited exposure, they showed flashes of their maturity and wisdom. Harry is working at the Ministry of Magic and is are doing a fine job of keeping the world of magic safe from the dark forces while managing his family life. Professor Dumbledore’s wisdom has been bequeathed to him and guided his every action. Hermione, meanwhile, remains nerdy and bookish while Ron is still the same comic guy. As they say, some things just never change.
As always, J.K. Rowling never fails to enthrall her readers with her wide array of magical themes. The magical series stimulates the puerile mind, with its feel good atmosphere, even though at times it falls into a chasm of bleakness. In The Cursed Child, she incorporated the concept of time travel amongst the myriad of themes. It is inevitable for her not to intertwine destiny and fate in this theme of magical time travel. Albus Severus and Scorpius tried to alter history but in the end they only came up with one conclusion – things happened just the way they are supposed to.
Beyond the magic of time travel, the microscope placed on The Cursed Child uncovered two strata of major themes – fatherhood and choices. These are profound subjects but Rowling added her own magical touch to keep it in line with her other books. However, readers who revel in the innocent fun the other books conjured might be disappointed with the play because of its more mature themes. As a result of these mature themes, magic is less dealt with in the book in compared to its predecessors, something that devout Potterheads wouldn’t be too keen about.
And what is a J.K. Rowling story if it doesn’t possess two fundamental themes that defined the seven-book series – friendship and loyalty, specifically that of Albus Severus and Scorpius. It is a trite subject but nonetheless something that Rowling knows how to depict. What sets apart Albus Severus and Scorpius’ friendship is the fact that they belong to families with long history of strife. This is an undertone of that old adage, “burying the hatchet.”
Because it was originally a play, the story is related in a dialogue format. Before reading Rowling’s other work, Fantastic Beasts, I was apprehensive about reading books in this format. I thought this format would stymie my understanding of the story but contrary to my expectation, I ended up with a well-facilitated reading experience. My doubts were assuaged as I enjoyed this foreign format. Although it bothered me at first but as I gathered my momentum, I began enjoying the book. It is indeed a welcome change from the lengthy paragraphs I got accustomed to. The only thing that went against it is that there were lesser descriptions. The reader has to rely on the dialogues and the observations of the characters, who are unreliable at times.
I am cognizant that some devout Potterheads are not quite receptive of this play/book. Its restrained showcase of magic offended their sensibilities to some extent. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed the story because it depicted growth, and change. It had the perfect balance of the realistic and the magical. It is still anchored on friendship and loyalty, the fundamental Rowling, while dealing with more mature themes. It is just unfortunate that it didn’t showcase the real power of Rowling’s entire repertoire.
With all this said, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a great breather from the overburdening books whose heavy themes have weighed down on me. Magic is still alive and that is what matters more. The series, whether in stage, in movie or in written form will always be widely syndicated because of its magic. But alas, things change. They always do, and so does the characters from our favorite books. We just have to sit back and relax and witness their literary transformation.
In the end, one thing still baffled me. Who is the real cursed child?
Recommended for die-hard Potterheads, those who delve in the world of fantasy, those looking for a light and pleasant read, and those who are looking for a break from the world of heavy reading.
Not recommended for those who resist change and those who believe that their favorite book characters will never grow.
About The Author
To know more about J.K. Rowling, click here.