Book review: Harry Potter And The Cursed Child: Parts One And Two

IT’S BEEN a long time since a script has topped the bestsellers list, but that’s just the kind of magic JK Rowling and her boy wizard can create.

JK Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

Little, Brown, €19.99; ebook, €14.99

This is the first update of the Harry Potter story since she completed the seven books charting his time at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry five years ago and transformed her own life.

I was one of those people who queued for the midnight releases of her latest instalment of her famous teenager’s struggle to live up to the destiny set out for him when he was just a baby. 

They are classic reworkings of the good versus evil battle, and I would greedily read them well into the small hours, unable to put them down.

I have recently had the pleasure of watching a love for Harry Potter ignite in my two eldest children who now sleep in Hogwarts duvets and t-shirts and I watch their excitement as the story weaves its magic again.

And it was with some trepidation that I agreed to read Harry Potter And The Cursed Child: Parts One And Two Script Book which takes up the story 19 years later. Despite the rave reviews of the play, the fear remained: what if it wasn’t as good?

No need to fear, reading the script is like slipping on your favourite slippers and wondering why you ever took them off. And don’t worry, there will be no plot spoilers here as the joy of unraveling her twisting, turning plot is not for spoiling here.

This time Rowling has teamed up with playwright Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany to revisit her wizarding world in a new medium. 

They have taken an original story by Rowling and breathed life into it with all the warmth and excitement you would expect from the world of Harry Potter.

Rowling herself had left us a glimpse of the future in her last book, Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows, when we discovered that Harry had married Ginny Weasley and Hermione had married Ron. 

They are all waving their children off on the Hogwarts Express. And that’s pretty much where we pick the story up. 

After a very short time, you stop noticing you are reading dialogue and the stilted format of the name of the person speaking before each sentence as you once more enter her alternate world. 

The detailed stage directions vividly set each scene perfectly. (Harry is in a horrible state. Petrified by what he thinks his dreams are telling him).

Harry is struggling with fatherhood — his third child, Albus Severus (named after two Hogwart’s headmasters, Dumbledore and Snape) is starting at school and struggling to live up to his father’s name. He befriends Harry’s longstanding nemesis Draco Malfoy’s son Scorpius, also struggling with the burden of his father’s legacy. 

One soon convinces the other that altering the past to save someone’s life is a good idea. 

There are time turners, dark alternative realities and the white knuckle adventure ride you come to expect.

By the end, you are left wondering exactly who the Cursed Child is. Is it Harry, forever cursed to live with the moniker ‘the boy who lived, or could it be Albus or Scorpius, trying to find their own way out from behind the shadows cast by their fathers.

Above all, it’s a tale about the difficult bond between fathers and their children — and, as ever with Rowling, the placement of love, friendship and loyalty above all else.

The sadness of putting down the book was alleviated slightly with the knowledge that we still have Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to look forward to on the big screen in November.

Star rating? It’s got to be 9 and 3/4 of out 10


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