Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Author: Jack Thorne (based on an original story (unpublished) by him, J.K. Rowling, and John Tiffany.)
Genre: Literature, Bildungsroman, fiction, adventure, fantasy, war lit.
Publication Date: November 18th, 2016.
Summary: Years after the Wizarding War, Harry Potter's middle child, Albus Severus Potter, gets sorted into Slytherin during his first day of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It is the beginning of drift away from his family, his father specifically. Albus is bitter and unhappy with being the black sheep in the family of the great Harry Potter, with no friends but one. So when rumours of a new dark resurgence begin to float around, Harry's scar begins to hurt for the first time in decades, and the Ministry gets its hands on an illegal Time-Turner, Albus and Scorpius decide to go on a quest back in time to rescue an innocent who died for Harry. But their interference brings about a devastating turn of events and sends ripples down the tides of time, creating horrible realities enveloped in death and darkness.
My rating: 7.5/10
My review: As a person who spent a lot of her teenage years reading and writing Harry Potter fan-fiction (and actually credits learning how to write partially to it), I am going to call a spade a spade - this is fan-fiction. It reads, however, like well-written fan-fiction, with J.K. Rowling distinctly shining through on a semi-regular basis. I think most of us who grew up loving Harry felt like we could read about him forever - the end of the series was definitely a sad mile-stone for me personally. However, as many people notice with their favourite series, especially after a few years, if the author goes back to it, it often feels like a potential invasion on something sacred. I had a distinct feeling of this through the main time-traveling plot device. I am a fan of series and I will always be happy to read more about the characters I love, but I have a distinct preference against authors touching characters or events already established. I generally enjoy time-traveling, but I can say in this case, because of the established canon, it didn't seem like the best choice. It was a clever device to be able to directly tie the books into its prequels, but I simply did not wish to go there. While it was compelling to see some alternate universes (like the world where Voldemort had won the war), on the other hand, as much as we all wanted it, as much the circumstances under which it happened did allow for it, it felt wrong to have, for instance, Snape declare his feelings of love, loyalty, and inadequacy for Lily. That felt like fan-service, just as, for instance, Draco's snarky admiration for Hermione felt, as well. Albus getting sorted into Slytherin and becoming best friends with Scorpius was probably one of the most popular "next generation" fan-fiction plots after the publication of the 7th book, so, again, the plot embraces predictably cheesy. Voldemort having a daughter was one step too far - that was the point in the book where I decided it was a) more fan-service than writing and b) significantly more co-authors than Rowling. I was very torn about some of the characters as they "grew up" - the main one being Ron. I did not enjoy watching him act like a fumbling, awkward, silly fool. There was a part of me that really wanted him to grow out of his insecurities, grow into his accomplishments, and become a confident character. Though on the other hand, Ron ends up very similarly to Arthur, and it's entirely realistic, though I genuinely think that all the experiences he has gone through with Harry would have developed both his back-bone and his self-confidence. One of the things that I actively didn't appreciate was that Hagrid, once again, got the short end of the stick. We get a beautiful flash-back scene with him picking up Harry from his house's ruined debris, and the fact that Hagrid tells him he will need lots of friends is very poignant knowing what Harry's life will come to depend upon, but nonetheless we don't get even a mention of what may be going on with him in present day. I suppose it's not inconsistent for the series to always deal Hagrid unfair blows (especially where the complete lack of acknowledgement that he may have just been the only father-figure Harry really had), but this irked me probably more than a lot of other things, since you do get, at least in passing, to catch up with most other main characters of the series. I did, however, in the end, enjoy the fact that this book was largely about friendship - even the father/son conflict around which the book revolved largely came down to friendship and understanding. I also really enjoy the role Cedric played in the books. You never quite realize, when reading the originals, how much of a throw-away character Cedric was, and how little one thinks about him after his death. That he indeed was one of the only innocent, or, at least, completely oblivious of Voldemort's victims. I believe the scene that touched me the most in the book is when Scorpius goes back to a world where Voldemort had won, and he himself is an evil and cruel boy, and when he tells Albus about this, he acknowledges that though he had "fixed" that time-line and insured that he went back to the world as he knew it, he was only able to do so because he "knew what he should be." I find this to be a powerful idea that really makes one think about good and evil and the choices and perspectives necessary to "be good." To sum up, while I know a lot of fans will be irked by this book and find it an entirely unnecessary addition, I do believe it's worth a read if you've followed Harry on his journey up to this point.
LILY: Where's my nose?
♥ ALBUS: Everyone's staring at us again.
RON: Because of me! I'm extremely famous. My nose experiments are legendary!
♥ SCORPIUS: Thank you.
ALBUS: No. No. I didn't—for you—I stayed for your sweets.
SCORPIUS: She's quite fierce.
ALBUS: Yes. Sorry.
SCORPIUS: No. I like it. Do you prefer Albus or Al?
ALBUS (thinks): Albus.
SCORPIUS (as smoke comes out of his ears): THANK YOU FOR STAYING FOR MY SWEETS, ALBUS!
ALBUS (laughing): Wow.
A perfect, profound silence.
One that sits low, twists a bit, and has damage within it.
♥ SCORPIUS: Did you really think she'd come to us? Potters don't belong in Slytherin.
ALBUS: This one does.
I didn't choose, you know that? I didn't choose to be his son.
SCORPIUS: Okay. Hello. Um. Have we hugged before? Do we hug?
♥ SCORPIUS: Okay, now we're on the roof of a train, it's fast, it's scary, this has been great, I feel like I've learnt a lot about me, something about you, but—
♥ SCORPIUS: Albus... Albus...
Well, as fun as you clearly look, I have to go after my friend.
Walker frames are conjured into life, knitting wool is enchanted into chaos, and male nurses are made to dance tango.
These are people relieved of the burden of having to do magic for a reason—instead these witches and wizards do magic for fun. And what fun they have.
♥ DRACO (lip curling, every inch his father): If you need gold... Everything the Malfoys have... He's my sole heir... He's my—only family.
HERMIONE: The Ministry has plenty in reserve, thank you, Draco.
DRACO: I don't care what you did or who you saved, you are a constant curse on my family, Harry Potter.
♥ SCORPIUS/HARRY: My point is, there's a reason we're friends, Albus—a reason we found each other, you know? And whatever this—adventure—is about...
Have you seen the books on these shelves? There are some serious books here. Banned books. Cursed books.
ALBUS/RON: How to distract Scorpius from difficult emotional issues. Take him to a library.
♥ ALBUS: Hogwarts. Never seen this view of it before.
SCORPIUS: Still get a tingle, don't you? When you see it?
From the moment I first heard of it, I was desperate to go. I mean, Dad didn't much like it there but even the way he described it... From the age of ten I'd check the Daily Prophet every morning—certain some sort of tragedy would have befallen it—certain I wouldn't get to go.
ALBUS: And then you got there and it turned out to be terrible after all.
SCORPIUS: Not for me.
All I ever wanted to do was go to Hogwarts and have a mate to get up to mayhem with. Just like Harry Potter. And I got his son. How crazily fortunate is that.
ALBUS: But I'm nothing like my Dad.
SCORPIUS: You're better. You're my best friend, Albus. And this is mayhem to the nth degree. Which is great, thumbs-up great, it's just—I have got to say—I don't mind admitting—I am a tiny bit—just a tiny bit scared.
ALBUS: You're my best friend too.
♥ HARRY: I've never asked how you felt about me naming him after you, have I?
DUMBLEDORE: Candidly, Harry, it seemed a great weight to place upon the poor boy.
♥ HARRY: How do I protect my son, Dumbledore?
DUMBLEDORE: You ask me, of all people, how to protect a boy in terrible danger? We cannot protect the young from harm. Pain must and will come.
HARRY: So I'm supposed to stand and watch?
DUMBLEDORE: No. You're supposed to teach him how to face life.
HARRY: How? He won't listen.
DUMBLEDORE: Perhaps he's waiting for you to see him clearly.
The staircases meet. The two boys look at each other.
Lost and hopeful—all at once.
And then ALBUS looks away and the moment is broken—and with it, possibly, the friendship.
And now the staircases part—the two look at each other—one full of guilt—the other full of pain—both full of unhappiness.
♥ DELPHI: Albus needs you, Scorpius. That's a wonderful thing.
SCORPIUS: He needs me to do what?
DELPHI: That's the thing, isn't it? About friendship. You don't know what he needs. You only know he needs it.
♥ DRACO: As hard as I try, I can't reach him. You can't talk to Albus. I can't talk to Scorpius. That's what this is about. Not about my son being evil. Because as much as you might take the word of a haughty centaur, you know the power of friendship.
HARRY: Draco, whatever you may think...
DRACO: I always envied you them, you know—Weasley and Granger. I had—
GINNY: Crabbe and Goyle.
DRACO: Two lunks who wouldn't know one end of a broomstick from another. You—the three of you—you shone, you know? You liked each other. You had fun. I envied you those friendships more than anything else.
GINNY: I envied them too.
HARRY: I need to protect him—
DRACO: My father thought he was protecting me. Most of the time. I think you have to make a choice—at a certain point—of the man you want to be. And I tell you that at that time you need a parent or a friend. And if you've learnt to hate your parent by then and you have no friends... then you're all alone. And being alone—that's so hard. I was alone. And it sent me to a truly dark place. For a long time. Tom Riddle was also a lonely child. You may not understand that, Harry, but I do—and I think Ginny does too.
GINNY: He's right.
DRACO: Tom Riddle didn't emerge from his dark place. And so Tom Riddle became Lord Voldemort. Maybe the black cloud Bane saw was Albus's loneliness. His pain. His hatred. Don't lose the boy. You'll regret it. And so will he. Because he needs you, and Scorpius, whether or not he now knows it.
♥ SCORPIUS (a little bit scared, a tiny bit brave): Then I'm entirely ready. For whatever comes.
DOLORES UMBRIDGE: For Voldemort and Valor.
♥ HERMIONE: Though I am sorry what it will cost you.
SNAPE: Sometimes costs are made to be borne.
♥ SNAPE: One person. All it takes is one person. I couldn't save Harry for Lily. So now I give my allegiance to the cause she believed in. And it's possible—that along the way I started believing in it myself.
SCORPIUS: A doe? Lily's Patronus.
SNAPE: Strange, isn't it? What comes from within.
You need to run. I will keep them at bay for as long as I can.
SCORPIUS: Thank you for being my light in the darkness.
Are you okay, Albus?
HARRY: No. Nor me.
♥ SCORPIUS: Cedric was a different person entirely—dark, dangerous. My dad—doing anything they wanted him to. And me? I discovered another Scorpius, you know? Entitled, angry, mean—people were frightened of me. It feels like we were all tested and we all—failed.
ALBUS: But you changed things. You had a chance and you changed time back. Changed yourself back.
SCORPIUS: Only because I knew what I should be.
♥ SCORPIUS: No one can do what we did, Albus. No one. No, (slightly grandly) it's time that time-turning became a thing of the past.
ALBUS: You're quite proud of that phrase, aren't you?
SCORPIUS: Been working on it all day.
PROFESSOR McGONAGALL: Your solidarity is admirable, but it doesn't make your negligence negligible.
DRACO: Then it's a negligence I too should face.
Hermione and Harry have done nothing wrong but try and protect us all. If they're guilty then I am too.
RON: Just to say—I didn't know about much of it so can't take responsibility—and I'm pretty sure my kids had nothing to do with it—but if this lot are standing up here then so am I.
♥ HARRY: Go. Leave. I don't want you here, I don't need you. You were absent every time it really counted. I fought him three times without you. I'll face him again, if needs be—alone.
DUMBLEDORE: Harry, don't you think I wanted to fight him on your behalf? I would have spared you if I could—
HARRY: "Love blinds us"? Do you even know what that means? Do you even know how bad that advice was? My son is—my son is fighting battles for us just as I had to for you. And I have proved as bad a father to him as you were to me. Leaving him in places he felt unloved—growing in him resentments he'll take years to understand—
DUMBLEDORE: If you're referring to Privet Drive, then—
HARRY: Years—years I spent there alone, without knowing what I was, or why I was there, without knowing that anybody cared!
DUMBLEDORE: I—did not wish to become attached to you—
HARRY: Protecting yourself, even then!
DUMBLEDORE: No. I was protecting you. I did not want to hurt you...
But I had to meet you in the end... eleven years old, and you were so brave. So good. You walked uncomplainingly along the path that had been laid at your feet. Of course I loved you... and I knew that it would happen all over again... that where I loved, I would cause irreparable damage. I am no fit person to love... I have never loved without causing harm.
HARRY: You would have hurt me less if you had told me this then.
DUMBLEDORE (openly weeping now): I was blind. That is what love does. I couldn't see that you needed to hear this closed-up, tricky, dangerous old man... loved you.
HARRY: It isn't true that I never complained.
DUMBLEDORE: Harry, there is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge the pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.
HARRY: You said that to me once before.
DUMBLEDORE: It is all I have to offer you tonight.
HARRY: Don't go!
DUMBLEDORE: Those that we love never truly leave us, Harry. There are things that death cannot touch. Paint... and memory... and love.
HARRY: I loved you too, Dumbledore.
DUMBLEDORE: I know.
♥ DRACO: The thing is, though—never really fancied being a Ministry man. Even as a child. My dad, it's all he ever wanted—me, no.
HARRY: What did you want to do?
DRACO: Quidditch. But I wasn't good enough. Mainly I wanted to be happy.
♥ HARRY: Love blinds. We have both tried to give our sons, not what they needed, but what we needed. We've been so busy trying to rewrite our own pasts, we've blighted their present.
♥ SCORPIUS: I mean, it's unlikely, but... Stand over the baby—and just repeatedly shout HELP. HELP. HELP. I mean, it might traumatize the baby slightly.
ALBUS: Only slightly.
♥ GINNY: You know, after I'd opened the Chamber of Secrets—after Voldemort had bewitched me with that terrible diary and I'd almost destroyed everything—
HARRY: I remember.
GINNY: After I came out of the hospital—everyone ignored me, shut me out—other than, that is, the boy who had everything—who came across the Gryffindor common room and challenged me to a game of Exploding Snap. People think they know all there is to know about you, but the best bits of you are—have always been—heroic in really quiet ways. My point is—after this is over, just remember if you could that sometimes people—but particularly children—just want someone to play Exploding Snap with.
HARRY: You think that's what we're missing—Exploding Snap?
GINNY: No. But the love I felt from you that day—I'm not sure Albus feels that.
HARRY: I'd do anything for him.
GINNY: Harry, you'd do anything for anybody. You were pretty happy to sacrifice yourself for the world. He needs to feel specific love. It'll make him stronger, and you stronger too.
♥ RON: Then I would like to—I think I should be him. I mean, it won't be—exactly nice being Voldemort—but without wishing to blow my own trumpet—I am probably the most chilled out of all of us and... so maybe transfiguring into him—into the Dark Lord—will do less damage to me than—any of you more—intense—people.
♥ DRACO: Hermione Granger, I'm being bossed around by Hermione Granger. (She turns towards him. He smiles.) And I'm mildly enjoying it.
♥ DELPHI: You think you're stronger than me?
HARRY: No. I'm not. ... I've never fought alone, you see. And I never will.
♥ DELPHI (truly pitiful): Then kill me.
HARRY: I can't do that either.
ALBUS: What? Dad? She's dangerous.
HARRY: No, Albus...
ALBUS: But she's a murderer—I've seen her murder—
HARRY: Yes. Albus, she's a murderer, and we're not.
HERMIONE: We have to be better than them.
RON: Yeah, it's annoying but it's what we learnt.
♥ HARRY: Voldemort is going to kill my mum and dad—and there's nothing I can do to stop him.
DRACO: That's not true.
SCORPIUS: Dad, now is not the time...
ALBUS: There is something you could do—to stop him. But you won't.
DRACO: That's heroic.
He looks down and stands over the crib. Which seems to radiate light.
Well. Hello. Yeh must be Harry.
Hello, Harry Potter.
I'm Rubeus Hagrid.
And I'm gonna be yer friend whether yeh like it or not.
'Cos yeh've had it tough, not that yeh know it yet.
An' yer gonna need friends.
♥ HARRY: Those names you have—they shouldn't be a burden. Albus Dumbledore had his trials too, you know—and Severus Snape, well, you know all about him—
ALBUS: They were good men.
HARRY: They were great men, with huge flaws, and you know what—those flaws almost made them greater.
♥ HARRY: The boy who was killed—Craig Bowker—how well did you know him?
ALBUS: Not well enough.
HARRY: I didn't know Cedric well enough either. He could have played Quidditch for England. Or been a brilliant Auror. He could have been anything. And Amos is right—he was stolen. So I come here. Just to say sorry. When I can.