“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is likely to be the best-selling book of 2016. (Rob Stothard/Getty Images)
“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” the script of the London play of the same name, has been out for three days now, and reviews have been all over the place. Some fans and reviewers love it, some hate it, and many are somewhere in between.
A lot of that, I think, has to do with expectations. If you were expecting an eighth book on par with the original seven, full of all the character development, setting details and side stories that made us fall in love with the series, then yeah, you’ll probably be disappointed.
But if you were able to manage expectations a bit and understand that a play script was never going to be as immersive as one of the books, or even as the play itself (which is generally getting better reviews than just the script), then you just might be content, or even happy, with “The Cursed Child.”
That was my experience, at least. I wasn’t expecting to love “The Cursed Child” as much as I love the original seven books, and it turns out I don’t. But that doesn’t mean I regret reading it or wish it hadn’t been made like some fans apparently do.
I enjoyed revisiting the world of Harry Potter and seeing many of our favorite characters again. I’m glad this universe is not just a thing of the past. I’m not one of those people who wants my favorite series to end after their original run and never be renewed.
Make all the “Star Wars,” “Batman” and “Rocky” movies you want. Give me a bunch of “Game of Thrones” spinoffs and short stories. Sure you might get some stinkers, but if you also get “The Force Awakens,” “The Dark Knight,” “Creed” and “Tales of Dunk and Egg,” then it’s all worth it as far as I’m concerned.
“The Cursed Child” doesn’t quite succeed at the level of the installments I just mentioned. Maybe I’d feel differently about the play itself, but the script is probably more along the lines of “Attack of the Clones” or “Rocky Balboa.” It’s fine. Not great, not bad, just fine.
“The Cursed Child” play is already split into two parts and making it any longer probably wasn’t feasible, which means the script is just 320 pages. It reads like a story half that long given the way it’s structured — you can easily get through this in one or two sittings without needing to pull an all-nighter — which means it obviously isn’t going to give you everything the original seven books gave you, similar to the way the movies couldn’t give you everything the books did.
Because of this, the story sometimes feel rushed. Some of the dialogue and some of the characters’ decisions feel a bit forced and unnatural, like they’re saying and doing things just to move the story along. “The Cursed Child” also literally revisits the past — a lot — which is a storytelling technique that pretty much always leads to mixed reactions.
There’s still a lot to like about “The Cursed Child.” Harry and Draco Malfoy are both struggling to connect with their sons, who are both struggling to escape their fathers’ shadows while building a friendship that neither Harry nor Draco is really comfortable with. There are some interesting plot twists and, regardless of how you feel about revisiting the past so much, it’s hard not to be intrigued by the what-ifs the script explores.
“The Cursed Child” may not be a home run, but I’m glad it exists, and I hope we continue to get more original Harry Potter content in the future.