| Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany | Play Review

August 4, 2016 / 4 Comments / Review

| Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany | Play ReviewHarry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two (Special Rehearsal Edition)

Author: J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany
Series: Harry Potter #8
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine
Publication date: July 31st 2016
Source: Purchased at Chapters Indigo
Format: Hardcover
My rating:
Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | The Book Depository | iBooks | Google Books | Audible

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on 30th July 2016.
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
This Special Rehearsal Edition will be available to purchase until early 2017, after which a Definitive Edition of the script will go on sale. 

Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Disclaimer: Light spoilers in this for the beginning of the play and its concept. If you don’t want to know ANYTHING at all, please stop reading now. If you don’t mind a bit more than the synopsis, read on.

Harry, Ron and Hermione laughing together in snow

Reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is strange thing.

On the one hand, it was a complete and total joy to be back in the wizarding world again, to see all my old favorites and to see brand new characters really spring to life.

On the other hand, it’s a very strange to be reading something that is so definitively not J.K. Rowling’s writing. I feel like it’s akin to when a new writer comes onto a comic book – it often takes them a few issues to settle into the characters, and even though it’s the same characters, and it’s canon, it’s just…different.

Jack Thorne didn’t really get that few issues. But he and John Tiffany did get the opportunity to work with Rowling on this story, so because of that, I assumed that the characters would immediately feel like home.

Unfortunately, they didn’t.


While I’m grateful for the opportunity to read and complete (at least in my head) more of one of my favorite stories of all time, I missed J.K. Rowling’s snappy writing, wit, and plotting. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is more subdued in dialogue, far less complex in plot, and to be honest, kind of predictable compared to the novels. I was able to guess some of the major plot points pretty easily.

As characters, Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermione didn’t quite feel like the same voices that I loved from the novels (Ginny, in particular, has far less sass than I remember from the novels – that might be because she’s my favorite character, but I was like, “COME ON, give her more!”). Perhaps this is an instance where I really needed to see the play to feel the characters, perhaps this is time passing, but man, I missed Rowling.

ginny casting spell harry potter
More fierce Ginny please!

That said, the writing is compelling, if not super exciting. I raced through the play, learning to enjoy the progeny of Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione, and yes, Draco and his wife. The focus is on Albus Severus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy this time, but like any epic fantasy, the past never really stays in the past and the sins of the father…etc, etc.

And that’s really the theme of this play. And the only way to resurrect and hammer home that theme is how the playwrights conceived of it: through time travel (more on that in a bit) and through the exploration of the parent-child interactions throughout this play.

Harry and Albus Potter

These themes feel more mature than in Rowling’s original books, and because of that, I felt like this play had a lot less of the wonder that I felt at the beginning of the series. It’s inevitable, I suppose, because even though we ended Deathly Hallows with a happy-ish ending, the world has changed, Harry has grown up and has children, and he no longer thinks magic is the cure-all for everything. There are more important things.

And here, we really see Harry – and Albus – trying to figure that out. What happens if you CAN’T live up to your father? How do you deal with being the son of The Boy Who Lived? How can you parent a child who has to deal with that? The playwrights don’t have easy answers for this, and I appreciated that even throughout the script, they never took any easy ways out with the characters. The relationships, if nothing else, are complex, especially between parent and child – and if that was what they were going for, then I do feel they achieved it.


harry hermione time turnerTime Travel: I honestly can’t say much here, but let’s just say that if you like time travel, you’ll probably enjoy this aspect of the play. I’m still not convinced that the logic of it worked, but I’d have to go back again or watch the play to really see.

Severus Snape as a teenRealistic Teens: Let’s be honest, as much as I loved Harry, Ron and Hermione, there was definitely a side of teenagerhood that was missing from Rowling’s original books: that of the “average teen.” I really appreciated that (mild spoilers) Albus and Scorpius are both really moody and unpopular, because that’s sometimes your experience as a teen.

The Final Word:

Reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a unique experience. I liked it, but I confess to feeling a bit disappointed. Unlike with the novels, the play’s plot, writing and dialogues just didn’t hold up to the standard set by J.K. Rowling’s original series. That said, I think this was an ambitious concept, and one I’m SURE is far more interesting staged than on the page. I am definitely glad I read it, but I do feel like I still want to see it as a play, so I guess it achieved its goal?


HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD is out in bookstores now. Have you read it/watched it yet? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

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4 responses to “| Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany | Play Review

  1. Tiff:
    Thanks for this really intriguing review. Your viewpoint I think as far as I can tell is the most common one currently about this screenplay.
    I actually really loved it and thought it was very consistent and enjoyed it so much. This may be from my perspective as I am almost reaching the age of Harry Potter in this play, and have grappled a lot with what he is going through. I felt that his character as someone in his 40’s makes total sense from how he’s grown up and the issues he’s dealt with through the books, and feel like all of the characters are very consistent. There were many things that I was disappointed by in the 7th Harry potter book, just some of the main issues being Draco and feeling very dissatisfied with his character arc and how Slytherins were depicted as just evil as a group, which really rang false to me. You can see how this play totally satisfied those issues. So I was extremely happy with this screenplay and for me, it makes me feel the story is that much more complete. And while I agree it was a lot more predictable than the majority of the books, I was okay with it. I wanted the focus to be on the characters, which is why the third book was my favorite, and why I loved this so much. Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. I liked reading your thoughts, Tiff! I have to say though I loved The Cursed Child, and I think that, in large part, it has to do with the expectations I had for it going in. While it was being lauded as the 8th Harry Potter story, I never really thought of it in the way, personally. I instead approached it as another story in the world of Harry Potter, with character I loved and characters I wanted to know more of, and so, I found it charming and fun to come along on this brand new journey. I do think it would be really much more effective to see it staged though!

  3. Loved your review! I was just so happy to have a new HP book in my hand I had zero time to be disappointed. Although, I did wanna smack a few characters at times, and cry at others!

  4. I love Harry Potter and I have read them all three times. This summer I am about to start the fourth run and I’m out reading up for inspiration. It’s not like spoilers are an issue after so many reads 😉

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