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Being labelled as ‘the boy who lived’ for his whole life has not been easy for Harry Potter. In the official eighth instalment of the Harry Potter series penned in the form of a two-part stage production play, J. K. Rowling along with Jack Thorne and John Tiffany weaves yet another thrilling and magical yarn featuring the life of Harry Potter nineteen years later in the post-Voldemort wizarding world.
A glimpse into the epic tale:
Harry Potter plays the role of a man finally living out the quiet, conventional lifestyle he always wanted to live as a Minister of Magic employee, who is a doting husband and father of three. Yet, he struggles to escape the haunting past, the demons of which continue to consume him. The play also features a grown up Albus Severus Potter following the footsteps of his legendary father and labouring to carry the burden of a family bequest and fortune he hadn’t expected. As the past meets the present, the legendary father and son duo strive to come in terms with the darkness that lies within and overcome their inner demons.
So after 9 years another Harry Potter book came for we the fans, with midnight parties, fans dressed in costume and pre-orders that already have made it the bestselling book of the year in Europe. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not your ordinary Potter book. For starters, this isn’t a book, but the script of the two-part play that opened in London on July 30 (hours before the book went on sale). Second, this one takes place 19 years later (opening with an extended version of the epilogue from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on platform 9 3/4). And third, and most important, this one isn’t written by J.K. Rowling herself, making it the first one not written by the original creator. She helped come up with the basic story along with Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, but credit for the play script goes to Thorne alone (Tiffany directs).
That the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child evokes so much nostalgia is perfect for a story that depends so heavily on nostalgia, the past and familiarity with the original seven books. The best parts of The Cursed Child are the beginning and the epilogue. The story focuses on Albus Severus Potter’s arrival at Hogwarts, the Sorting Hat (as Albus feared, he’s a Slytherin) and seeing friendships and alliances reconfigure in a new generation. Particularly interesting is the friendship that develops between Albus and Scorpius Malfoy, each so unlike their fathers, and the character of Rose Granger-Weasley, also so unlike her parents. (For starters, she’s an epically good quidditch player.) It is the most Rowling-esque part of the story and frankly the most fun.
Seeing how the children of Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Draco are both like their parents and also distinct characters is fascinating, and the relationship between Albus and Scorpius feels genuine (though Rowling had a better ear for kid’s dialogue than Thorne). Part of me wished this was book one of Harry Potter: The Next Generation and the story really luxuriated in everyday life at Hogwarts in the same way as the original book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Instead, The Cursed Child becomes a convoluted time-travel adventure that honestly is a bit of a slog. Without giving away too many plot details, Albus and Scorpius travel back in time to save a life and in doing so they set off a domino wave of changes that radically alter the present. As in Back to the Future, further attempts to fix the timeline result in more changes and still more attempts to make it right, even as their parents are rushing to rescue them. Some of the alternate future versions of familiar characters are fun and others don’t quite work. But understanding any of it assumes a pretty deep familiarity with the Potterverse. This isn’t a story accessible to newcomers (in the way the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie appears to be), but one designed to service the existing fan base.
But the big problem with The Cursed Child is that it’s less an original story than a remix of the existing Potter mythology. The been there, done that feeling to the whole thing is its greatest weakness. How the sins of the father (and the mother) weigh on their children is an interesting theme, but it would have been better served exploring that idea in a truly original story and not one that rehashed the mythology of the previous seven books. Even the plot looked somewhat similar to Marvel Universe’s X:Men Days Of Future Past where Wolvorine went back in time to rectify an error done by Mystique. Even though I never found any problems in reading the much awaited story in stage screenplay format but it restricted the new characters to etch out well and flourish the old characters.
Let’s hope that if there’s a ninth story, it leaves the time travel behind and give us something really fresh. Being an ardent fan of Harry Potter world I liked the book and infact tried to Love it but failed. Its strictly for fans not for the starters. I enjoyed in parts and will wait for the next part, this time in full JK Rowling style. I’ll give 3 stars out of 5.