Holy Smokes but this review has taken all of time to write. Seriously, I cannot actually remember the last time I found it hard to put my feelings about a book into words. I mean I know I flail sometimes and I have kind of made the incoherent keysmash into an art form of my own (and I am eternally sorry for any and all posts that are basically just READ THE DAMN BOOK) but I hardly ever sit and just think ‘well then.’
Thing is, ‘well then’ is pretty much what I did think when I got to the end of The Cursed Child and now I don’t know quite what to do or say. WHAT SHALL I DO OR SAY?
I’m not going to talk about it lots. I could, and maybe I should. But I’m not going to, partly because see above and partly because I know some people haven’t read it yet and I don’t want to be SPOILER GIRL. I’m basically going to say that I have feelings and they’re mixed and a lot of that might be down to what Harry Potter means to me, and how despite myself my expectations for The Cursed Child were unrealistically high. So high though, you don’t even know. They were always going to be. Harry Potter owns a part of my soul, my love for this franchise knows no bounds. For all of time I have – for all of time I will – make grabby hands at anything new that JK Rowling and her cohorts want to throw at me. I will grab it all and I will want it all and I will devour it all, and I will expect it all to fill me with the same wonder that the books did the first time around.
And when it doesn’t, I will feel sad about it.
I think that’s perhaps what I’m feeling now. Sad. Because you see, I remember so well the last time a new Harry Potter book arrived on my lap. I remember Deathly Hallows release day so well. I remember how it was so very very worth the wait. I wanted to love The Cursed Child, believe me I did. & I read part one and made myself stop for the night because I didn’t want it to be over too fast – who knew when (if ever) I was going to get this again, I didn’t want to rush it. & it felt good to be back at Hogwarts, it did. So good. I giggled, and I rolled my eyes and I thought ‘yeah, of course he said that’ and I snorted at Draco and Harry and I was mildly irritated by Ginny and I felt strangely calm and settled and like as JKR promised me, Hogwarts was still there to welcome me home. It just….wasn’t entirely the Hogwarts I was expecting.
& still, I don’t want to say too much, I don’t want to spoil and I don’t want to bias and to a point I don’t actually want to say anything negative about a part of something that I love so hard (writing this review is hard, dammit. I feel like a house elf.)
I’ll tell you a few things though and the main one is, is that it’s glaringly obvious that a JK Rowling piece of work this is not. Jo very kindly agreed to let somebody play in her sandbox and that’s fine because it’s nice to share your things, but it’s not Harry Potter in the way I know Harry Potter. It doesn’t feel to me to be Jo Rowling’s Harry Potter and I have feelings about that, because it kind of should be, you know? Jo’s Hogwarts is also my Hogwarts and this, this is something else. I didn’t want something else.
It was weird to read too, in some ways, perhaps because it was a script and not prose. We lost a lot there, a mon avis, because a lot of Harry Potter is in the storytelling; the world JKR built; in the way she used her words. So much of what made me fall in love with the whole damn thing in the first place was lost, and I missed it and it was so obvious to me that it wasn’t Rowling’s writing and that made me sad. You don’t get the same level of description in a script, the same level of detail. The detail is what made Harry Potter and without it, at the risk of sounding like a poor and broken record, it just wasn’t the same.
Also, there were flaws in the plot: things that really bugged me and things that felt too convenient and things that needed explaining and things that made me facepalm so hard and there were some pretty major issues with characterisation, such as (sometimes) Hermione (holy feminist issues batman do not let me get on that soapbox because I was a little bit ragey) and Ron (who albeit had some excellent lines) coming across like he was a caricature of himself.
& then there was pretty much everything about Harry as a parent. I felt like some key issues from the books had been conveniently cast aside in order to try to make the story work. Anyone else remember Sirius, and Remus and how thanks to them Harry sort of did have a father figure? Ok, good. Because all of that stuff, the Harry as a father stuff… actually, no. Let’s not. Don’t get me get on the Sirius Black train, it won’t be pretty.
Oh, and I missed people that I thought should have been there – where was Hagrid please? Where exactly was Hagrid. Perhaps Jen was right (and I don’t mind telling you that our live texting of this was a world away from our live texting of DH) and they just didn’t know how to stage him, ha, but still. WHERE WAS HAGRID???
It’s just….I was from the fanfic era you know? I read a lot of fanfiction back In The Day. A lot. And some of it was out of this world excellent. I read fix-it fic, which essentially is what this play was and whilst I was totally a Marauders fangirl, after Deathly Hallows I also read a fair amount of Next Gen fic and that’s kind of what this felt like to me. Next Gen Fix-It Fanfiction. I already knew this version of Albus and Scorpius because I’d met them – they felt like they’d been lifted straight from the internet. (& if you want to tell me that Scorpius has a thing for Rose then sure, go right ahead, but that’s not the play I read.)
On the flip side, the Voldemort storyline made my skin crawl in the way I imagine it was supposed to and there was also a scene with Harry that ripped out my heart in a way that I was not prepared for, fuckety fuck and also ouch.
There was some excellent and very moving Snape stuff (good God is anything to do with Severus Snape ever not going to destroy me?) and, there was Scorpius. Oh, Scorpius Malfoy, how I love you. If JKR wanted to write an actual book about that kid, I would so totally be down for reading that thanks.
& despite my misgivings I can totally see that it would be pretty impressive on stage, and I really want to see it. I also loved the little bits of JKR that shone through – I mean look at Albus’s initials and tell me she hadn’t already sorted him when she wrote the epilogue. There are zero coincidences in Harry Potter and I have always loved Jo for that. Those little bits, the blink and you’’l miss it foreshadowing, the ‘fuck yes’ moments of realisation, the seemingly insignificant details that turn out to be epically important, the things. Those are what I love. This play was lacking in things. I WANT ALL THE THINGS.
TL;DR: If you want to read some really excellent fan fiction then start here. For the love of God if you’re going to read The cursed Child because you’re a Harry Potter fan, then read this because wowzer.
If you want to read something that’s been for actual real published then read this and then read this because Rainbow Rowell is a genius.
& you know what, read The Cursed Child. Let’s be honest, you’re a HP fan so you’re going to anyway. Just, just remember that it was never meant to be read like this, it was supposed to be seen and remember that JK Rowling didn’t write it, and don’t expect it to be like the books, and make your own mind up afterwards.
(Sad Jo is still sad about this whole damn thing.)