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Review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two

rowling_harry potter and the cursed childHarry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two
based on an original new story by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne; written by Jack Thorne
7/16    Levine/Scholastic    328 pp.
Middle School, High School    978-1-338-09913-3    $29.99

This “Special Rehearsal Edition Script” of the two-part play that opened in London’s West End in July 2016 is complete with stage directions and original cast list. The story begins at the “nineteen years later” point seen briefly in the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (rev. 9/07) and focuses on Harry’s adolescent son, Albus Severus Potter, who is having a difficult time fitting in at Hogwarts. After an argument with his dad (and using an illegal Time-Turner), Albus embarks on a mission with best friend Scorpius Malfoy, son of Harry’s childhood nemesis Draco, to right wrongs in Harry’s past. Their trips into history have unintended consequences, however, in part because an apparent ally isn’t what she seems. There are a few too many elements that strain credulity to suit the plot — never-before-mentioned magical rules, unlikely cause-and-effect chains — all of which might be easier to ignore in a special effect–laden live performance. The play is more successful with its characters than with its storyline — in indulging the audience’s desire to spend time with grown versions of old friends, yes, but also in creating a new generation of wizards who might be grateful for their parents’ past heroism but who have concerns of their own. In examining the emotions of characters young, old, and in-between, Cursed Child acknowledges that life isn’t as simple as Deathly Hallows’s last line — “All was well” — might have us believe.

From the November/December 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Shoshana Flax About Shoshana Flax

Shoshana Flax, assistant editor for The Horn Book, Inc., is a former bookseller and holds an MFA in Writing for Children from Simmons College. She is a member of the Sydney Taylor Book Award committee.

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