Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Review – Book 8

Harry Potter is back  — and he’s older, wiser, and working in the Ministry of Magic. Okay, no spoilers, and no, I haven’t read the book yet. I have ordered it on Amazon.in, but, surprisingly, it was only after much deliberation. I think a lot of readers, even hardcore Potter fans, would contemplate whether they should buy the book or not, and I am here to answer your questions.

Update August 1: Yes, I have now read it! Review below.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Is it a book or a play?

This is one of the main reasons why I initially was thinking of not buying the book. I thought it was a play and, honestly, plays aren’t fun to read. Plays are meant to be watched, and, sadly, I can’t afford a plane ticket to London to watch the play. For those of you are planning on being in London in the next few months, buy your tickets here. Potter Mania is alive and kicking, so if you leave it to the last minute I’m pretty sure you won’t get your tickets.

harry potter and the cursed child play

A scene from the play: Platform 9 ¾ in all its mystery. Credit: Pottermore

But Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is NOT written in play format. No exit stage left nonsense. I managed to find a leaked Chapter 1 of the book online, and read the first few lines. It’s in traditional J.K. Rowling style of writing, so no worries there.

Just got my copy and, alas, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is written in play format. I am somewhat disappointed, but hey, maybe this will be an interesting experience in itself.

Harry Potter Cursed Child Page 1

A sample of the first page of the play.

Did J.K. Rowling actually write it?

The authors of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child are J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany. Does that mean J.K. Rowling didn’t write it? Does it mean it was kind of ghost written by Jack & John? (Accredited ghosts). While I obviously don’t actually know who wrote what, I believe that JK Rowling would have written the majority of the book in terms of plot. Jack & John are experienced theatre guys who would know how to script a play brilliantly, to keep an audience interested for 90 minutes or so. J.K. Rowling, let’s admit it, has a tendency to ramble. So she partnered with Jack Thorne & John Tiffany to create a kickass play.

For those of you who are worried that The Cursed Child will deviate from a typical Rowling style of writing, worry not. She’s a woman who you can trust not to get these kind of things wrong.

Part 1 and Part 2 — What does that mean?

I initially thought that there would be 2 books coming out, kind of like the movie version of Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows. But then I thought, wait a sec, it’s a play. And how are plays structured? In acts. Your typical Greek dramas and tragedies were three act plays. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a four-act play  in two parts. This is just a typical theatre structure used, so no, no two Harry Potter books coming out, alas.

Should I see the play before I read the book (before the movie comes out?)

If you are anywhere in or near the vicinity of London, I would say, hell, yeah! Watch the play first for sure. Plays are always meant to be watched first. If, like me, you are many miles away from London, make do with the book till you can eventually travel to London to watch the play. And knowing JK Rowling, I doubt a movie version of the play will come out.

Should I buy the hardcover book or Kindle edition of Harry Potter & The Cursed Child?

While I now read mostly on Kindle (and adore my Kindle Paperwhite), I ordered the hard copy of this book. Why? Because it’s cheaper (Rs 580 for hardcopy vs Rs 878 for Kindle edition on Amazon.in), and I always like to believe a first edition Harry Potter is a good investment for 50 years later 🙂

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Hardcover

My hardcover copy of the play.

Another tip: I just re-read all 7 Harry Potter books on Kindle Unlimited in 1 month straight. How much did it cost? Only Rs 199.

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Harry Potter & The Cursed Child Review

Amazon, oh marvellous Amazon, had delivered my copy of the book this morning. And so, of course, I discarded all my tasks for the day and plonked myself in front of the book.

*** Spoiler alert ***

My verdict: A dissatisfying read.

Oh, the play will be wonderful; you can tell by all the stage directions and the pace of the scene changes. It will be a magical experience alright, but should this play have come out as a book? I’m not sure. Actually, I would say definitely not.

Harry Potter & The Cursed Child is written with time constraints: a play will only be 2 hours long, never much less, never much more. To fit an entirely meaningful story into that amount of time (without any visual aids) is a stretch. While in terms of plot the book is very strong, fast-paced, enthralling, you barely have the time to identify with any of the new characters. Albus and Scorpius aren’t characters you know and so you aren’t rooting for them at any point. To see them go through such character arcs doesn’t connect with me. And to see the entire Wizarding world spin around so quickly leaves me very dissatisfied.

I think if the visuals were there it would have added a world of difference. There is enough nostalgia in the script that any Potter fan would lose an arm and leg to see it live. But, as a read, sitting on my couch, my reaction is lukewarm.

Like I mentioned, in terms of a play, I think it will be a thrilling experience, but is this a play that students of literature will study for years to come? Hell, no. The play is the same as a typical Hollywood movie: great for those 90 minutes, but quickly forgettable afterwards.

Has your copy of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child reached already? Share your review here!

User Reviews and Comments

  1. johnag says

    First: Of course it’s a script. If you’d read anything about this book before buying it, you would know that.
    Second: To everyone who’s complaining about that and demanding their money back, has it occurred to you to simply return the book and move on?
    Third: This book did so much to continue the story in such a short space. I would’ve certainly liked it to be longer, but it did not disappoint all the same. I’m thankful that the script was shared at all so that those of us who could not go to London to see the performance were still able to experience this story

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