The eighth story. Nineteen years later.
At the end of July, Harry Potter fans rose from the background as J.K Rowling released the next instalment of the series. Bookstores opened at midnight. People threw themed parties. Everyone was just generally super excited. Yet, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not as it seems. Rather than being a novel, it is the printed script of the West End play. Over the past few weeks, the new story has had a mixture of reviews and opinions. So let’s take a trip through the story and how it has made everyone feel.
Starting From Where We Left Off
The Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play opens exactly where the epilogue of Deathly Hallows left off. Harry’s second child, Albus, is starting his first year at Hogwarts along with Ron and Hermione’s daughter, Rose. As they board the Hogwarts Express, the scene mirrors Harry and Ron’s first meeting as Albus meets Draco’s son, Scorpius, and they hit it off as friends — much to Rose’s anger. To everyone’s surprise, the sorting hat puts Albus into Slytherin. Over the next three years, he becomes unpopular and inactive with only Scorpius as his friend. His relationship with Harry becomes strained, and he no longer speaks to Rose.
Reading the first few scenes of the play gives you that great nostalgic feeling. We’re seeing the characters we love and that we grew up with for the first time in years, and it’s just brilliant because we’ve missed them so much! However, the story is already taking a dark turn. Albus’s mood and relationship with Harry is a bit depressing. Although it is not uncommon for a Harry Potter story, it’s a weird way to start it. It seems that everyone thought it would start with fun at Hogwarts with Quidditch games and what not.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Magic obtains an illegal time-turner, and Amos Diggory demands that Harry use is to go back in time and save Cedric from dying. Albus decides he wants to fix at least one mistake that Harry made, so he decides to try and save Cedric. Along with Amos’s niece, Delphi, the three steal the time-turner from the ministry. Together they go back in time to the Triwizard Tournament. Before and while this happens, Harry yells at Albus telling him that he wishes he never had him for a son. Later, Harry starts having nightmares which lead to his scar hurting again.
Harry telling his son something like this is a bit mean and unlike the Harry we know from the first seven books. Despite this, the story is moving on in an interesting way. It’s exciting that we get to go back and see the Triwizard Tournament again but from a different perspective. Some readers have expressed that this is lazy writing, using events that we have already seen rather than creating new ones. But yet, at the same time, it is new in a different and interesting way.
A Step Back in Time
They first time they travel back, they stop Cedric from retrieving the golden egg in the first task. This, however, creates a new future. Albus is in Gryffindor; Ron has married Padma Patil, and Hermione is a rather mean Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Harry advises Albus that he stay away from Scorpius. He thinks he is the “black cloud” above Albus that is haunting him. Again, this makes Harry a little less likable, and we become annoyed at him even more. Harry is not the type of person to want to split up a friendship.
After avoiding each other for quite some time, Albus and Scorpius attempt to go back a second time to save Cedric. This time, they try to embarrass Cedric in the second task by inflating him in the lake. But again, this creates a new future. Cedric’s humiliation leads him to become a Death Eater and kill Neville Longbottom in the Battle of Hogwarts. Voldemort wins the battle and kills Harry, meaning Albus does not exist. Hogwarts is now a school for Dark Magic and worst of all, Dolores Umbridge is now headmaster!
If you could think of the worst thing to happen in the history of worst things, this is it. The one character of the books that we loathed, that we hated more than Voldemort himself has returned. And Voldemort now rules the wizarding world? Well damn, this is exciting and dreadful at the same time.
Now into part two of the play. We find out that in this alternate reality, Snape is alive and teaching at Hogwarts. Scorpius confronts Snape who reveals that he is still secretly in Dumbledore’s Army. Scorpius then meets Ron and Hermione, who are now wanted fugitives and living on the low. The trio agrees to help Scorpius even though it means Snape would die again. But he says he would rather die than live in a world that Voldemort rules (Cue: Aww). Hermione advises him that to make things right again he must go back and block his other self’s spells towards Cedric.
Before any of this happens, Dementors attack them and perform the Dementor’s Kiss on Ron and Hermione. But not before they confess their love for each other (They’re not married in this timeline). Before Snape gets his soul sucked out, he asks Scorpius to tell Albus that he’s proud Albus shares his name. This scene must be super emotional acted out. I mean, it’s sad reading it, let alone seeing it. We see the good side of Snape again, and it’s nice to know that even with Harry and Dumbledore dead, he’s still on their side. It’s also emotional because 1) Ron and Hermione are not together, and 2) they sacrifice themselves knowing that in another timeline they have a daughter and a son (Ultimate AWWWWW).
Once returned to the real timeline, Scorpius and Albus confess what they were trying to do. They also say they have lost the time-turner. However, Scorpius still has it as he did not trust it to be in safe hands with the adults. They decide to destroy the time-turner and invite Delphi to help them do it.
Delphi then reveals a tattoo of an Augurey, a creature symbolising the right-hand witch of Voldemort from the second alternate reality. She reveals that all along she had intended to save Cedric to bring back Voldemort. She takes the boys’ wands and takes them back in time to the final task of the Triwizard Tournament — the maze. While trying to stall Delphi, they come across Cedric in person who thinks they are obstacles of the maze. He lets them free, and the two realise they must allow Cedric to carry on, knowing that it will result in his death. This is another heartbreaking moment. As the reader, we want the boys to save Cedric, but like them, we know we cannot. And it’s depressing. Knowing that a character we love has to die for the greater good is overwhelming.
Delphi then uses the time-turner to take them back one more time. She destroys it, leaving them stuck in the past.
An Unexpected Reveal
Now, this is where the story takes a surprising and unusual plot twist. In the present day, Harry and the gang discover that Delphi is not Amos’s niece. They find a prophecy in her room that foreshadows the return of Voldemort. They then find out that Delphi is the secret child of Voldemort (dun, dun, DUN).
Before we go any further, let’s a take a moment to think about this. Voldemort has a child? Really? I mean, kudos to the writers for a shocking plot twist. You can’t get more surprising than that. It’s a good turn of events but at the same time, it’s a bit weird. The thought of Voldemort having a child is a little repulsive. It’s not something you want to think about. Some fans see it as lazy. We have had seven books with Voldemort as the main antagonist, you would think they would try and come up with a different villain. Yes, Delphi is a different villain, but she is still related to Voldemort. And in a way, it does seem a little cliché, even for J.K Rowling, to come up with. But hey, it is still exciting, and would work great on stage.
Stuck in Time
Back in the past, Albus and Scorpius learn they are stuck in 1981, on October 30th, the day before Voldemort kills Harry’s parents. Realising that Delphi is going to kill baby Harry to save Voldemort, they travel to Godric’s Hollow and try to find a way to communicate with Harry in the future. Albus remembers the blanket that Harry tried to give which he threw across the room in an argument. The one that collided with some love potion. They understand that a Demiguise would burn through the blanket so they could use it to write a message on the blanket. And being the eve of Lily and James’s deaths, Harry would be keeping the blanket close to him. They sneak into Bathilda Bagshot’s house and write the message on the blanket. Harry and Ginny see this and go to find Ron, Hermione, and Draco.
Draco reveals that he has another time-turner, one that can last more than five minutes. The five travel back in time and realise Delphi did not choose this moment in time to kill baby Harry, but instead to stop Voldemort from killing the Potters in the first place. Hiding in a church, they decide to transfigure Harry into Voldemort as he can speak Parseltongue again, to trick Delphi. Just as Harry/Voldemort confront Delphi, the transfiguration spell ends. Harry turns back into himself.
We also find out in this scene that Bellatrix is the mother of Delphi. Which, again, is a bit weird. (Bellatrix and Voldemort?) She was born at Malfoy Manor before the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry and Delphi begin a duel with each other and Delphi pleads that she only wanted to know her father. Harry, surprised by this, tells her that she cannot change the past and thus cannot know Voldemort.
As they hear the real Voldemort coming to the Potters’ cottage, Delphi tries to call out to him. But Hermione and Draco send her back to the present. Harry decides to stay and watch the events of his parent’s deaths but this time surrounded by his friends and family. As they return to the present, we take a look back at the events of the first book. Hagrid arrives at the cottage and takes baby Harry to the Dursleys. Another, sad yet fun throwback to the original books. We start to feel sympathetic towards Harry again because he has gone his whole life without his parents and now he has to watch them die again. We align ourselves with Harry because we too loved James and Lily.
As the book draws to an end, Harry takes Albus for a walk to Cedric Diggory’s grave. It is a place that Harry reveals he visits often so he can apologise to Cedric for his death. The play ends with a glimmer of hope that Harry and his son are at the beginning of a better relationship.
Is It Worth Reading?
All in all, despite having some flaws and odd moments, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is still good. Fantastic even. The fact that it is not written by Rowling herself changes this quite a bit. Some of the characters are not as well written or accurate, and that makes it harder to like.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that this is a story created to be watched, not read. It’s like Shakespeare; his works are a lot easier to understand when you watch people performing them. What we’ve got to consider about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child being on stage is that we get to experience the magic and special effects. Everything comes alive, and we focus on that more than the story or characters. Yes, they are important, but magic is what Harry Potter is all about. We get to experience the magic again for the first time in a long time. We get to see our favourite characters again and what their kids are like! All these are what makes this book so great. It may not be a fan favourite, but it is still great in many ways. Plus, it’s Harry Potter! And you can’t hate Harry Potter.