It actually pains my Harry Potter loving heart to write a less-than-stellar review on this story, but I firmly believe that releasing Cursed Child in print was a mistake. Going in I was fully aware that this was the script for a play, not an eighth novel, and I really tried to manage my expectations accordingly. But even knowing that didn’t soften the blow of cold, fleeting stage directions like “A busy and crowded station. Full of people trying to go somewhere”. It is in these moments where you truly realize that all of the magic of Harry’s world depended completely on Rowling’s ability to paint a vivid picture with her word choices, something that is completely missing in this format.
Even setting the format aside for a moment, the story just didn’t do it for me. If you’re going to write an eighth story, then write an eighth story – don’t lackadaisically fumble around in beloved plotlines, turning this into what is essentially “Albus Potter and the Butterfly Effect”. Even now I’m struggling not to roll my eyes just thinking about it and, quite frankly, I’ve read fanfiction that I enjoyed more.
The nostalgia factor helps a bit, until you realize that all of the updates you’re getting on your favorite characters are wholly superficial and have no depth whatsoever. For example, you never get a good sense of the relationship between Harry and Ginny, and Ron has completely regressed to little more than occasional comedic relief. The entire story depends on the reader to rely solely on their imagination to fill in the missing gaps, and is so rushed that you’re left feeling completely dissatisfied. Would that I could have a time-turner of my own so that someone could get JK Rowling to take a step back and reconsider this whole thing.
All of that said, Cursed Child certainly has the potential to make for a magical stage production if executed properly, it just doesn’t work on paper and lacks the descriptive detail that made Harry Potter what it was. Here’s hoping that I one day have the opportunity to see it on the stage as it was meant to be experienced, because this format certainly didn’t do it for me. If anyone needs me, I’ll be rereading the series for the millionth time, trying to override this memory in my head.