A new Harry Potter book in this generation is received as nothing short of magical-- especially if said Harry Potter book comes out years after the emotional end and is written as a play set to be performed immediately. I, like thousands of other young Muggles, nearly had a heart attack when the news dropped. An 8th Harry Potter book? Accio!
In some ways, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child lived up to its label as #8; however, after having read the screenplay I am more inclined to give the book its own category somewhere between the original Harry Potter series and the offshoots, such as The Tales of Beedle the Bard. Though the characters are true to the original series and Harry, Ron, and Hermione make up much of the dialogue, the trio read differently than they once did in the original series.
Though I thoroughly enjoyed the play, my critique rests on this essential difference in writing. Throughout the play, J.K. Rowling's spirit is notably absent. The idea of the play was hers, but the writing itself belongs to Tiffany and Thorne, which is quite clear. The characters seemed to have lost a bit of their luster and their distinguishing characteristics, so artfully integrated into the original 7 books, are present but weakly so. For this reason, I would never count Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as part of the original series.
On a brighter note, I loved the story. I was surprised by the plot's direction often and the action moved along so well I never want to put the book down. The character development of Harry and Lucius' sons is really well done. I was particurally satisfied with the agency of Albus as a separate entity from Harry Potter, despite their connectedness.
Overall, I loved the experience of buying and reading a new offshoot of the Harry Potter franchise. The plot was well-thought out and free of errors-- an impressive feat when working with time hopping. Though the writing departed significantly from the authorship a devoted fan is used to, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a great, entertaining read for a nostalgic HP fan and for a younger crowd who grew up without the magical world of Hogwarts.
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Publication Date: July 2016