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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Book Review : Harry Potter and The Cursed Child




Courtesy : pottermore.com
For a long time I have been in two minds about writing a review of the  Harry Potter series' latest instalment. The fact that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was made for the theatre and the book released is a script and not novel as the previous instalments were,did bother me even  before I started reading it but what bothered more was the knowledge that even though the original story is by JK Rowling,the script was written by Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany. But then as a Harry Potter fan, there was no way I was going to ignore this one.  I have never reviewed a Harry Potter book on my blog before,this time I want to precisely because it is part of yet different from other books of the series.
Do note that I haven't seen the play,this review is of the script released in the book format and also that though I will try to avoid including spoilers,I don't offer an entirely spoiler free review especially in the first act.

The play begins retelling some of the parts already included in the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,the opening scene set to platform nine and three-quarters of King's Cross railway station as the 37 year old Harry is seeing off his two sons leave for Hogwarts on the all too familiar Hogwarts Express. Although,Harry's elder son James has already adapted well to the wizarding world, his younger son Albus Severus Potter is seemingly nervous and wonders what it would be like if he is sorted into Slytherin and not Gryffindor to which his entire family belonged. Although Harry tries to reassure him, there is a strong hint that Albus is already troubled with the idea that he would have to live up to his father's legacy and he resents it. In fact, one of the first act of rebellion he does is by striking up friendship with Scorpius Malfoy, son of Harry's school adversary and a former Death Eater,Draco Malfoy.

Further, because of a certain rumour, Scorpius is resented by nearly everyone else. Albus' fears of not being able to live up to his father's legacy is further reinforced when he is sorted into Slytherin House which also brings him closer to Scorpius. The next few scenes highlight the facts that Albus is struggling with studies, has little affinity for extra-curricular (read Quidditch) and his close friendship with Scorpius has made the duo extremely unpopular within Hogwarts. Harry because of his workload is unable to truly connect with Albus and their relationship strain until just before the start of Albus' fourth year at Hogwarts when things between them go horribly wrong. 

Albus along with Scorpius resolves to embark upon his own adventure to correct what he perceives as mistake committed by Harry. As the story proceeds the boundary line between magical fantasy and science fiction become nearly indistinguishable as time traveling and alternative realities come into play. The time travel element is actually quite interesting since the writer introduces new characters but much of the action remains rooted in the past when the golden trio faced adventures as Hogwarts students and even Harry's first encounter with Voldemort. To reconcile these two periods,time travel provides an excellent plot device. As a matter of fact, JK Rowling has used time traveling as a plot device in her third book,Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban but her treatment of the subject was such that it seemed purely in the realm of magic. But that is not the case in the Cursed Child, you could easily replace the magic device with a science fiction device and the story would flow without any hiccups. While I do realise that a script of a play doesn't give much liberty to create a magical environment (that's what the sets and effects are supposed to do on stage) at least the dialogues could have been less of the way muggles speak and more the way it is spoken in Hogwarts and in the wizarding world.

It is perhaps the dialogues that are so different from Rowling's original prose that at times this seems another work of fiction derived from Harry Potter series. Some fans have alleged that this reads more like a fan-fiction than original work and looking at the treatment meted out to some of the characters from previous books,I cannot disagree with them entirely. Now,I have always considered JK Rowling as a masterful story teller,though I hadn't  been much of a fan of her prose but after reading this script one has to accept that it is her writing style that breathes magic into the Harry Potter series. The story of the Cursed Child may not match the standard of the rest of the series,it seems more like an experiment to introduce new characters without taking off the focus from the originals and as far as the story goes I found it quite likeable. It is the writing and execution of the plot that really seems to disappoint. And there are some major plot holes. No wonder the fans feel utterly let down and have been demanding a new book from Rowling  even if millions of books have been sold. I too would like to join the chorus since this story clearly indicates that there is much scope to take the series further as long as author is solely wielding the quill.

So if you are a great fan of Harry Potter series, this is a book you might find enjoyable because of the nostalgia it evokes, even if it doesn't stand up to the mark the originals have already set. However, for those not much into Harry Potter series, and don't remember the stories of the previous books there is not much that this book has to offer. However,I must again emphasise that this is a review of the script only,I do have a strong feeling that the staged production maybe a completely different  thing and much more enjoyable (unfortunately,I don't think I would be able to watch it anytime in the near future).

Rating : 3/5
Language : English
Publisher :Little,Brown
Originally Published : July 31, 2016

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