Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
July 31, 2016 3:21 AM - by J. K. Rowling - Subscribe

Albus Severus Potter faces dangerous adventure while Harry struggles with the perils of fatherhood. Spoilers.

I read spoilers for this but was waiting until I got my hands on the book before really judging. I am... Glad to have read another Harry Potter story. Less glad that it heavily relies on time travel and Voldemort having a secret child (I'm pretty sure I've read fanfic of this that didn't include Albus and Scorpius).

It was nice to see grown up versions of our main characters. Hermione as Minister of Magic is nice and I'm glad that she makes mistakes. Same goes for Harry. They've both been blinded by their power (might not be the right word). I was disappointed to see Ron as comedic relief through most of the story and didn't get the feeling he really liked Padma or Panju in that reality. I was fascinated by Ron and Hermione's relationship being very dependant on events happening in a certain way.

Draco's life was fascinating in each version of reality. I felt like through all of them he just wants to keep Scorpius safe and does whatever is necessary to make sure of that. The rumor that Scorpius was really Voldemort's son just seemed weird and like the kind of rumor that would be difficult to think of as credible.

Delphi. Man, all those Voldemort/Bellatrix fanfics are right. Maybe Harry was too busy saving Hermione from torture to notice that Bellatrix was very pregnant while they were at Malfoy Manor and Draco didn't notice that a baby was born?? And Hermione was too busy being tortured to take in the pregnancy. I need to tweet JKR about that. Her scheme is convoluted but maybe that's a genetic trait she got from Voldemort.

Overall I think it was nice to see characters I like. The plot was not excellent. I'll probably like it better in a few years though.
posted by toomanycurls (43 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
About midway through Act I right now and it reads very quickly, feels very fast paced. Though that could be because I'm just soaking up the words. This is such a trip back into time for me. Back when I worked a book store and these books were originally released. I can only imagine how this feels for children who grew up reading the books. I came them in my early 20s.

Enjoying it thus far.
posted by Fizz at 8:12 AM on July 31, 2016

I have a very difficult time buying the Delphi daughter of Bellatrix + Voldemort thing, at least without some further explanation about some sort of special concealment of the pregnancy or something.

I also bounced slightly hard off of the fact that near the end they were talking about going into Bathilda Bagshot's house and whipping up a batch of polyjuice, which needs to stew for a month. And not even Hermione said "we can't do that, not enough time."

Is it just me or does this have a bit of a fan-fictiony feel to it? The Voldemort-Bellatrix thing. The Draco being a really good guy thing (just a bit of a jerk). The magnification of messing-with-time not just at crazy levels within short hours but across decades? That's a universe-destroying bomb right there.

The more I think about it the more I feel like everything she did right in Prisoner of Azkaban about time travel, she did wrong here.
posted by tclark at 8:59 AM on July 31, 2016 [6 favorites]

It felt very fanfic to me also. I felt the same about Deathly Hallows too. It could just be that I've read so much fanfic that it's hard to write plots that haven't been well combed over by the fan base (especially with Deathly Hallows having a clear overall goal of destroying horcruxes). With Cursed Child it's not just that I've read fanfic that touches on these points but that these are usually badly written plots that don't generally make sense.

The no world impacting ramifications to time travel (aside from one kid dying) or even personal losses with the main characters felt incredibly empty. Yes the characters went through a ton of growth but jfc they almost destroyed the world doing it and then that's it. Consequences, significant ones too, would give their actions and fuck ups more power.
posted by toomanycurls at 10:39 AM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

I wrote up a mini-review here based on my experiences of teaching the series recently. I must admit it felt fan-fic-ish to me too, though I liked it, and thought it threw into relief some subtle stuff about parenting that the books don't really comment on, even revising them significantly in places...
posted by gerryblog at 1:49 PM on July 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Finished reading it. It does very much have the flavour of fan-fic. The time-travel sequences in particular have a kind of, alternate endings feeling to it. As if they were rejected "Nineteen Years Later" chapters from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Still, it was entertaining and it brought back a lot of feels I had from my first reading of the series. Not perfect by any means, but I'm glad that this will finally be the end of any story having to do with Harry Potter. That this closes out that sequence of the wizarding world.
posted by Fizz at 4:04 PM on July 31, 2016

Draco's life was fascinating in each version of reality. I felt like through all of them he just wants to keep Scorpius safe and does whatever is necessary to make sure of that. The rumor that Scorpius was really Voldemort's son just seemed weird and like the kind of rumor that would be difficult to think of as credible.

Which, really, just means that Draco took a page from Narcissa's parenting book. There are worse parents to pattern yourself off of.

As for super weird rumors that don't really have any basis in them, that does seem to be par for the course in the wizarding world. Even if Scorpius was described as a mini-Draco, which would probably point to his correct parentage.

The Voldemort/Bellatrix thing is just . . . ew. No. Even it it happened at the end of the war so she wouldn't be showing, Voldemort is not entirely human at that point. It really is a badfic plot.

Generally, I liked it. Harry really did have a bunch of shitty father figures in the books - Vernon, Albus, Sirius. Arthur wasn't horrible, but never seemed to be presented to Harry as a surrogate dad the way that Molly was a surrogate mom. And the general idea of how to be a good dad when he doesn't really have any experience to pattern that off of was very sympathetic. And I really like that there's a Harry Potter thing to be excited about again - it's very nostalgic, people asking who has finished it and planning when they're going to talk about it.

Rowling really hasn't gotten better with relationships and consent, though - Uncle Ron giving Albus a love potion was gross, Albus making out with Hermione as Ron seemed like it was supposed to be funny but just seems really uncomfortable on so many levels, and Scorpius's aggressive pursuit of Rose despite everything that Rose says really isn't great with the other two in play.

Also, ugh, Snape.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:22 PM on July 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

Cursed Child is from some dark alternate reality where JK Rowling has gone mad.

There can be no other explanation.

The only likeable aspects of it all for me are Draco's growth as a character and Hermione being black. Everything else is apocryphal.
posted by Hermione Granger at 8:24 PM on July 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

grumpy Harry Potter fan is grumpy; read it again and I still don't like it but I don't hate it nearly as much as I did initially either.
posted by Hermione Granger at 9:32 PM on July 31, 2016 [3 favorites]

Fine, I read it a third time and I get the appeal. All the transitions and stage directions must be amazing in person, so it makes sense that most of the people who've seen the play thus far are enamored with it. That being said, I still find myself going, "This can't possibly be real," every few pages. Scorpius and Albus are cute, but their lines sometimes feel too modern, and maybe that's why seeing it in person is best because tone and delivery matter a lot in theater. I'm honestly really disgruntled about liking it a little. But I am a stick in the mud who judges things too quickly so I'm sure I'll get over it eventually.
posted by Hermione Granger at 10:04 PM on July 31, 2016

Reading this made me wonder whether a big part of the antipathy of some authors toward fic is that they're afraid their fans will write better stories and overshadow the original work. Because, boy, I have read next-gen HP genfic that puts this effort to shame. This felt like something I'd "meh" out of after a few chapters if I ran across it on AO3. I'm sure it's doper on stage but reading it was not that fun.

I was so underwhelmed by it that I couldn't even get that pumped about a few more lines of Canon Snape, which was sad. I'm really at the point where I prefer my personal Headcanon Snape. He's less of a depressing sadsack.
posted by town of cats at 1:42 AM on August 1, 2016 [5 favorites]

Also oh man it would've been so great if they'd named Delphi "Enoby" cmon guys, opportunity squandered
posted by town of cats at 1:46 AM on August 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

Not too bad, as fanfic goes. I hate time travel plots in general, and in this case they don't even bother hanging a lampshade on why the future timeline is still going while our protagonists are in the past, which would have taken about two lines of dialogue, but oh well. Still, it's nice to see some Slytherins finally getting their due.

Quite a few moments appeared to be there as how-did-they-do-that? stage setpieces. This makes perfect sense, but reading the script isn't going to give you the proper effect there.

(The dialogue was strongly reminiscent of Maya's work, but she would have gone farther down the Albus/Scorpius path than a couple of awkward hugs.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 6:44 AM on August 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've seen the plays - I just saw Part Two on Friday, so it's still pretty fresh in my mind - but I've not yet read the script. I'm going to try to describe my feelings about the plays without spoiling anything that isn't in the script, but I'm happy to answer questions if anyone has them.

I enjoyed Part One significantly more than Part Two. It really crams a lot into two and a half hours, but I think they do a good job of introducing the new characters and making you feel warmly towards Scorpius and to believe his friendship with Albus. Although there are definitely massively exposition-y bits.

The cliff-hanger is fantastic, and the wave of horror that spread through the audience as the Dark Mark was revealed at the end was genuinely chilling.

Most of the set pieces that Shmuel510 mentions are really great, and there are some really jaw-dropping moments.
On some occasions I felt that the play was a bit too similar to the films - I loved that Hermione wasn't exactly the same as Emma Watson's portrayal, but unfortunately that's not true of every character.

I was less keen on Part Two, but there were some moments that I was really moved by, but I'm not sure whether that's more to do with my attachment to the characters - particularly Cedric and James and Lily - than to do with quality of performance and writing! In a way it was sadder seeing Snape on stage because of Alan Rickman than because of Snape.

Would have really liked to see Teddy Lupin. I suspect she's keeping him in her back pocket somehow.

I suppose the thing that I feel most strongly about the plays is that at the end nothing changes - the end of the books is still the end of the books, and Voldemort is not back, and his daughter has been defeated, and the next generation is going to be just as weirdly incestuous as the previous.
posted by featherboa at 8:26 AM on August 1, 2016 [6 favorites]

I liked Scorpius a lot, and Draco a fair bit, and everyone else somewhat less.

I do now have to revamp my interpretation of the epilogue -- Albus was asking Harry what if he got in Slytherin not because he was scared he would be sorted there but because he wanted to be sorted there (note: Scorpius feels very Hufflepuffy) and was scared his family wouldn't love him if he was.

I enjoyed the Snape scene a lot.
posted by jeather at 3:15 PM on August 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

So... who raised Delphi all these years? Orphaned at one, just like Harry, but she certainly didn't get raised by her aunt Narcissa. Really, really have to overlook the plot holes in this. One drawback of the play format, I guess.

That said, it was fun. I liked the new characters, it was interesting seeing the various alternate versions of old favourites, and I really thought the end of Deathly Hallows should have brought Draco and Harry closer. Very pleased. Kept thinking, oh, it would be neat to see how that would be staged, too.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:40 PM on August 1, 2016

So... who raised Delphi all these years?

Delphi said the Rowle family took her in (and got a stipend for it). I'm assuming they're related to Thorfinn Rowle who fought at the Battle of Hogwarts.
posted by toomanycurls at 6:43 PM on August 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

I found the story pretty thin but I enjoyed being back in that world for a while and it makes me really eager to see how it's staged, even though imagining it thrilled me a lot anyway.
posted by crossoverman at 1:46 AM on August 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

The impression I had formed of Voldemort was that he was asexual. I find it hard to imagine him gettin' it on with Bellatrix. It makes me think of Dr. Evil and Frau Firbissina... "Don't worry mama, things wont get weird."
posted by wabbittwax at 8:31 AM on August 2, 2016 [2 favorites]

I mostly enjoyed it although I agree with the comments above about the plot holes ... especially Voldemort having a child.

I am hoping to read it aloud with a group and I think that will make it more enjoyable... scripts need to be brought to life, and I felt like it just could compete with a novel.

There were times when I felt it was obvious that Rowling was not the writer of the final project, there was something different about the voice.
posted by chapps at 12:41 PM on August 2, 2016

Just finished this. It was pretty ok. I don't do the fanfic thing, so I didn't have any of the "fanfic already did it" feel it sounds like a lot of other folks have had. The biggest drawback for me was that we already know everything. One of my favorite parts, actually probably my favorite part, of the HP books is all the world building that JK does. Here, the world has already been built and we don't really get anything new. Except for darkest timeline. I was all about the darkest timeline scenes with Rebel Warrior Granger, but it was all over so fast.

So that's my biggest problem I guess. I didn't get the thing I like the most about Harry Potter from this.

Also yes, a billion % agreeing with whomever above said there should have been consequences for all the timeline mucking they did.
posted by phunniemee at 6:09 PM on August 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

from the hp subreddit
posted by phunniemee at 6:29 PM on August 2, 2016 [1 favorite]

I liked it okay, though it did read very fanficy, but I'm really looking forward to watching the play, now. Alas, my tickets are for March only. I just hope that Jamie Parker is still playing Harry then, because after reading the play, I feel that he's the perfect actor for the role.
posted by snakeling at 4:58 AM on August 3, 2016

I went back and checked because I didn't remember seeing it, and I didn't find anything--do we get any indication in the darkest timeline that Cedric is a bad guy? I don't think he talks ever. Just Scorpius later saying oh yeah, and Cedric is bad now.

(Putting aside, of course, how ridiculous it is that getting embarrassed would make Cedric a death eater. But anyway.)
posted by phunniemee at 5:22 AM on August 3, 2016 [1 favorite]

I mean, the play was written by someone who isn't JKR, "based on a story" by JKR and a second person who isn't JKR.

It basically is fanfiction.
posted by Itaxpica at 6:06 AM on August 3, 2016 [4 favorites]

Oh and I would also just like to say

Before we got the reveal of the secret fix everything time turner and we were still working off the assumption that there was a time travel baby, I was really enjoying the implication that Voldy was a two pump chump who could assess the whole situation and nut in under 5 minutes.
posted by phunniemee at 6:25 AM on August 3, 2016 [7 favorites]

Hagrid is part giant and Flitwick has at least one goblin ancestor.
posted by brujita at 7:29 AM on August 3, 2016

"The infamous final three words of Deathly Hallows were: 'All was well.' No, it was not the most polished, most sophisticated of endings. It certainly wasn’t the most brilliant sentence of her seven-book saga. Still, I like knowing that all was well. I like knowing that, after every heartache, horror, and loss endured by these beloved characters, they simply…lived their lives. They found jobs that fulfilled them, that showcased their talents. They got married. Bought houses. Raised children. Learned to drive cars. Harry and his friends became adults in the simplest, greatest sense. I could see that from afar, and feel happy that they got there. And I’ve only come to appreciate that even more as I grow older, and start to do some of those things. To be told, now, after all this time, that all was not well, and that all was not well for their children, particularly, comes more like a blow to me than an exciting new journey."
— from Why I Won’t Be Reading The Cursed Child (via bookriot)
posted by Hermione Granger at 3:10 PM on August 3, 2016

I went back and checked because I didn't remember seeing it, and I didn't find anything--do we get any indication in the darkest timeline that Cedric is a bad guy? I don't think he talks ever. Just Scorpius later saying oh yeah, and Cedric is bad now.

I mean there's a part where they talk about how after his embarrassment in the Triwizard Tournament he turns in to an "angry young man" and then Scorpius has to figure out how that changed things and it turns out he kills Neville in the Battle of Hogwarts. So he is bad for sure in the darkest timeline.

I finished it last night. At the end of Part 1 I was very sceptical and not really enjoying it that much, but I came around by the end of Part 2. I hated that they were messing with time travel, but the surprises were usually surprising and being with the old characters was pretty fun.

I agree with whoever said that one of their favorite parts of Rowling was her world building. I miss all the small, subtle magic always happening in the background of the films and books. Hopefully that comes across well on the stage.
posted by DynamiteToast at 9:29 AM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Overinvested definitely had a WTF reaction to it.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:20 AM on August 5, 2016

Apart from being amused when I see Hermione Granger posting here...

"To be told, now, after all this time, that all was not well, and that all was not well for their children, particularly, comes more like a blow to me than an exciting new journey."

To be fair, all was well...more or less...ish... for nineteen years. That's doing pretty good.

Also, that's the nature of fiction: if you want to revisit your friends/characters, you have to mess up their lives again. Nobody's gonna want to read "Harry Potter Goes To Work, Does The Grocery Shopping, Eats and Plays With The Kid A Bit And Then Sleeps."

Anyway...I dunno about reading this, I think every review I've seen mentioned the word "fanfic," I seriously wonder how the casting went with all the new characters, and some things I've read really did sound WTF.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:44 PM on August 5, 2016

Terminator Trolley Witch.
posted by Faintdreams at 6:21 PM on August 5, 2016 [5 favorites]

Reminded me of the third Bridget Jones book. Throws away a beloved happy ending for a grim, joyless retread. I can't imagine ever wanting to read this again, or watching the stage version. In fact I want to forget it quickly so I can still enjoy the original books.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 5:21 PM on August 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Something I enjoyed was that the play got rid of the Gryffindor vs Slytherin essentialism. At no point in the books there's a wholly likeable Slytherin (Snape may have been a hero all along, but he's still a major asshole who hates Harry for what his father did) and there's exactly one unlikeable Gryffindor (Peter Pettigrew, who spends most of his time in rat form anyway). And no Gryffindor or Slytherin student in the books' main timeline breaks out of their house's stereotype: Gryffindors are all somehow good if not heroic, and Slytherins are all somehow villainy if not evil. Perhaps Rowlings did that on purpose to give the Snape reveal some extra oomph, but this Disney-level essentialism is still odd considering the general antiracist subtext (mudbloods, elves). In the play, Scorpius and Albus are not just Slytherin: they are the first Slytherins that we can actually root for in the entire series.
posted by elgilito at 9:49 AM on August 11, 2016 [4 favorites]

Maybe it's a good play. It's not a good anything else.
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 9:57 AM on August 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

I was flipping through the book (first time I came across it in the wild) and a lady came up to me to make sure she talked me out of reading it.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:29 PM on August 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I finally got it from the library today and I loved it! It was like fanfic, but it was filled with the things I like, angst, time travel, crying and hugging, and now I feel slightly optimistic about Fantastic Beasts.
posted by betweenthebars at 9:43 PM on August 14, 2016

On The Cursed Child and published play scripts - I really love this essay about translating JK Rowling's world to the stage.
posted by crossoverman at 2:12 AM on August 15, 2016

Well, apparently this is where I should have been sharing my disappointment with this play. Other than everything I already said about the way female characters are written in this play, it's a mess in other ways. Ron's characterization only makes sense if we're to believe he's been getting stupider ever since the brain attacked him in OOTP, Draco is so nice he makes Harry look like a jerk, and poor Cedric.

Honestly, when I first saw stills I thought it might be about Albus Severus and Scorpius and their budding romance and I really wish I had been right.

(Hi, my name is asteria and I take Harry Potter very seriously.)
posted by asteria at 8:19 AM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

(There are threads for all the HP books and movies under the harrypotter_club tag)

I liked nice Draco more than I liked mean Harry. I've always pictured both of them moving towards each other's personality after Deathly Hallows. They're set up as the antithesis of each other so seeing them merge a bit makes sense.
posted by toomanycurls at 5:34 PM on August 17, 2016

Most of what the reader sees of James Potter isn't likeable in the books.
posted by brujita at 7:41 AM on August 18, 2016

Apparently the time-turners in the play are entirely unlike the ones seen previously in the books, since nobody is depicted laboriously turning them over hundreds of thousands of times to go back the requisite number of hours. Why even call them time-turners if they're so fundamentally different in nature?

And what the hell happened to Ron? It's like there was an accident during a séance for Fred. Speaking of, where is Fred? No mention of Hogwarts' newest ghost? No talk about how he exorcised Peeves to become the new king of mischief and guided thousands of students in their quest to do no good? Whadda you mean 'not canon'!?! We will fight!
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 10:49 AM on August 18, 2016

1) Draco’s redemption arc was nice. He wasn’t owed it, but I liked it, nonetheless.
2) The Voldemort/Bellatrix thing was 50% ridiculous and 50% vomit-inducing.
3) I will never understand why they wrote a Scorpio/Albus love story and chickened out in the last few pages. They could have easily left out the Rose bit and just ended with S/A being best friends. But the Rose thing at the end was like “See?? I’m not gay!! I swear!” It was so bizarre. It honestly read like the writers were so scared S/A would be interpreted as gay characters that they had to add that in.
4) I’ve seen time travel handled so much better in fanfic. Turn by Sarah’s_Girl, for instance. But it also wasn’t the worst I’ve read so...
posted by greermahoney at 8:57 PM on August 3, 2018

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