I’ve been sitting on this for D A Y S trying to figure out what to say about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I’ve changed my mind about this review 7 times (which is actually why it’s going up so late).
I don’t know what to think about this book/play/story/thing.
Nor do I know where to start.
There will be spoilers, probably, so be warned. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d suggest you hold off on reading this until you have.
I do know that I don’t hate it. Many do, and that’s fine, but I can’t quite get there. It’s more Harry Potter, so it can’t be all bad, can it?
What I Wish Had Happened
Having the opportunity to get to know the next generation of Potters and Weasleys and Malfoys was good. Except that didn’t happen.
We only got to know two of them. Sort of.
I wanted there to be more there, more character building, more of a glimpse into the personalities of these kids. Basically all we got is that James was a giant ass, Albus was the emo middle child, and Lily was there, I guess, for a while.
Then there’s the Weasley kids. Rose was there for probably a total of 5 minutes, and I’m not sure Hugo even made an appearance.
It all just seemed far too rushed in the exposition; we didn’t get really anything from anyone. We aren’t allowed to know how Harry is fairing, nor Hermione, Ron, Ginny, anyone really.
Then there’s Delphi who just…Well I’ll get to her.
I guess what I wished most would be to have a glimpse of the trio and their kids in a way that would be more expansive than the epilogue in Deathly Hallows and certainly less tacked-on than that epilogue. I had wanted it to be a true installment in the series, and that’s not quite what we got.
It’s possible that all of my complaints are a direct result of the story being in play format, and I’ll talk about that in a bit.
But first —
Delphi – The Real Cursed Child
I do not buy her story. As much as I want to, I just can’t. For a few reasons.
One: Children aren’t something that Voldemort would have a use for. The only interest he ever had for them was as toys on which to practice his powers.
Two: Can you picture Voldemort being in the same room, alone, with Bellatrix for long enough to conceive a child? Because I absolutely can not. She loved him, sure, but he couldn’t ever stand her. He constantly berated her, ignored her, abused her, and just very clearly disliked her. So no, I don’t think they had a child together.
Three: Even if he was interested in children as a general concept, he wouldn’t have wanted to share any of his power. If he had a child, he would have an heir, which would also imply that he was going to die. Voldemort was hell bent on making sure that he would never die. That’s literally what causes all of the problems in the books.
Voldemort doesn’t want to die, so he splits his soul 7 (really 8) times so he can’t die. He kills unicorns and possesses Quirrell and attempts to find the sorcerer’s stone so he can’t die. So why would he have any use for an heir?
Does Voldemort create or keep anything that he doesn’t have a use for? Because he doesn’t strike me as one who would allow useless objects/people to hang around. It seems even more likely that he would allow a child to run around Malfoy Manor.
Four: Can you imagine Bellatrix as a mother? She would be obsessed with that child if Voldemort was the father, because she was obsessed with him. Do you think that she would have gone to the Battle of Hogwarts if she had a tiny Voldemort to attend to?
No, I don’t think she would. Unless she had someone entirely outside of the ranks of the death eaters to take care of her, because pretty much every family member of hers that wasn’t disowned is either dead or was also at the school that night. There wasn’t a house elf to raise her, so who would have taken care of this child?
However, I also have trouble believing that Bellatrix would have the patience to deal with a constantly screaming newborn without killing it. In all honesty, I don’t think any child of Bellatrix’s would have lasted long regardless of who its father was.
The Play Format
This is what I think impedes a lot of the story.
Plays have a very specific set of rules and are meant for a very specific readership and a very specific delivery. A short story would have been able to contain all of the things that I wish were in this book but weren’t. There could have been more exposition, there could have been asides that showed what life was like for the trio and their offspring.
The play doesn’t allow for this.
There was also a seriously jarring discrepancy in the voice of the play versus J.K. Rowling’s other writings. This didn’t capture her voice at all, and that rankles. You can hear her in some of the stage directions, and in bits of the flashbacks, but other than that, Queen Jo isn’t present.
The one thing that I think really irked me the most in the whole play were those flashbacks, actually. I was fine with the movies taking some parts of the dialogue and changing other parts of it.
But the play doing the same thing bothered me very deeply. I think it’s because watching a movie and reading a script are different things, while reading a novel and reading a script are very similar. Reading those scenes again without the “right” words being said threw me off.
I was expecting one thing and got something different. It was close enough that they should have just used all of the dialogue. Either change it completely, or not at all. That would have been better I think.
Maybe I would object less if I had seen it rather than reading it. I would still love to see it, obviously, but I can’t help but feel like I would still want a different experience. Although, it might change my mind about everything, too. You never really can tell.
If anyone wants to fly me to London to test this for science, I will be more than happy to accept both the plane and the play tickets.
All in All
I liked being in the world again. The thrill that always comes with opening a new Harry Potter book was there. Having the opportunity to go to another midnight release party was beautiful and so fun.
I went into this with the knowledge that it might not live up to the expectations that I could have had for it. I actually tried to not expect anything, but you can’t always control those things. As it is, I think I held my hopes pretty well in check. I’m proud of myself, at any rate.
Like I said, I didn’t hate the story. There were some interesting characters introduced (if I’m going to have to accept Delphi’s existence, I have to admit that she’s intriguing as hell), and some of the expansions on the trio’s lives (the few that we did get) were enjoyable. Getting to peek into that world that we saw so briefly in the epilogue of DH was very welcome.
I just don’t know if I can accept this as the next official installment in the series.
What did you think about this play? Let me know! I need to talk about it and will happily do so until I am blue in the face (or until I get carpal tunnel).