Harry Potter fans have waited almost 10 years to go back to Hogwarts. First, Hollywood surprised us with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them being turned into a movie. In fact, it will be several movies. And the Potterverse got extremely excited.
Next, the theater world surprised us again with the brand new production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the two-day, special effects phenomenon currently playing in London. Tickets are sold out for the run of the production, from what I’ve heard.
Then the literary world announced that the play would be released as a brand new book. And the Potterverse went nuts! The newly released play-in-book-format Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by playwright Jack Thorne, hit the shelves on July 31, 2016. This is, not uncoincidentally, J.K. Rowling’s and Harry Potter’s birthday.
Now, there is talk that the play-turned-book could quite possibly become yet another series of Harry Potter movies, with Dan Radcliffe once again leading the charge as the famed lightening scarred wizard we’ve all come to love. This is both good and bad news for fans actually. I’ll explain why in a moment.
The release of this book, which J.K. Rowling didn’t write, but did put her stamp of approval and her name on, was a monumental occasion for Potterheads around the world. Several fan groups, including the Los Angeles Dumbledore’s Army (“LADA”), the second largest Harry Potter fan group in the world, threw midnight release parties to celebrate getting their hands on, what is being considered by many, the official 8th installment of the Harry Potter saga.
The LADA not only hosted a midnight release party, which included everything from a ride on the “Hogwarts Express,” a train ride that started at Union Station in Downtown LA, but also included dinner and drinks at a pub before walking as a group over to SkyLight Books for the actual midnight release.
Two weeks later, the LADA hosted its 8th annual birthday bash and its very first live streaming book club. The LADA book club has been considered one of LA’s top books clubs (according to a poll in LA Weekly). And the opportunity to get to discuss this new book with people who are just as nuts about this fandom as I am was a real treat.
For those of you who may not know, The Cursed Child is a play being performed in London right now. It’s performed in two halves, and literally takes theater and special effects to a whole new level. When you buy your tickets, you have to have two days open for seeing the show, as you see the first half one day, and the second half on the next day. You can’t actually buy tickets for both shows on the same day.
Now, if you haven’t read the book (play), you should stop reading now. I’m going to delve into specifics about the story and what a lot of the fans are discussing. So, spoilers ahead! You’ve been warned!
If you look online, you’ll see reports that the fans LOVED it. And while I know everyone was super happy to get back to the world they’ve loved for almost 20 years now, the real fans have had mixed reviews. I could probably write a dissertation on the issues and nuances about this particular story, but I’m just going to touch on a few things, and a lot of this is why some devoted fans do not want to see this new venture put on film.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (which I will lovingly abbreviate to HPCC for ease) starts 20 years after the Battle of Hogwarts, and takes up where the epilogue of The Deathly Hallows ended. We see the trio, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger-Weasley, and Ron Weasley, sending their kids off to Hogwarts. The play even takes a bit from the epilogue itself in the conversation that Harry has with his youngest son, Albus Severus Potter. Albus, worried about being sorted in to Slytherin, expresses his worry to his father, who tells him not to worry and that is he is selected for Slytherin, he will be proud of him because he’s named after the bravest man he’d ever known, Severus Snape, a well known Slytherin.
Now, I’m not going to paraphrase the whole book here, though I could. If you want to read more about that, you can check out Amazon or a hundred other reviews. I want to talk about the things that we, the readers, had issues with.
A lot of people had trouble immersing themselves in the book because of the format. Now, I personally didn’t have that issue as I not only read plays for enjoyment, but as someone who has been performing in theater for years, am very used to the play format. That wasn’t my biggest issues getting in to the story. What I did find hard was that because it was a play, and not written by JKR, her prose was not there to dive in to. That being said, once I started and stopped twice, I was able to get right down to it and finish the book in an afternoon.
On to actual canon/story issues. A huge part of the story revolves around rumors that Draco Malfoy’s kid, Scorpius, is actually Voldemort’s kid. And throughout the course of the book we find out that there is someone who is the offspring of good old Moldy Voldy. The question of whether a) Voldermort could father a child, especially after the creation of 7 horcruxes and b) Voldemort’s wanting a child are hot bed topics for discussion.
Could Voldemort father a child? Would he have been able to procreate after splitting his soul seven times? If the timeline is correct, Delphi Diggory, who we find out is the daughter of Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange, how did that come about? It’s not explained in the book exactly how old Delphi is, but she’s not much older than Scorpius and Albus who are in their third or fourth year at Hogwarts. Which means that, according to canon, Voldemort and Bellatrix had sex sometime before the Battle of Hogwarts, after he was resurrected in Goblet of Fire, and after Bellatrix was broken out of Azkaban in Prisoner of Azkaban. Delphi would be in her early to mid twenties at this point, hanging around 13 year-olds. Kinda creepy but okay.
More importantly, I have serious doubts that Voldemort would want offspring. He loathed his heritage. He says on several occasions that he hated his filthy muggle father and his filthy muggle father’s name. There is no way he would pass that lineage on to his offspring. Voldemort’s idea of becoming immortal was to create those horcruxes … not have kids.
This entire argument, the question of a “cursed child,” in Delphi, is what this story revolves around. And even though I am sure it’s a fabulous theater going experience, the premise stuck me as a bit of Mary Sue fan fiction. Delphi, as the daughter of Voldemort and Bellatrix, is the quintessential Mary Sue. Without her as a plot device, there is no story. It’s contrived. She is, in my opinion, the perfect example of deus ex machina, “an unexpected power or event saving a seemingly hopeless situation, especially as a contrived plot device in a play or novel.” Her very existence is the deus ex machina of the story.
Now, there are several other issues with the story, the time turning, making Harry seem like a bad father, making Ron seem like a bumbling idiot (which he is NOT in the books), mistakes made by Hermione that she would never have made (i.e. wards or lack thereof, on her office in the Ministry), the other Weasley and Potter kids ignoring Albus, no mention of Teddy Lupin … the list is pretty long.
Over all, I enjoyed the book. I did love getting a glimpse back in to the world that JKR created, even if it wasn’t in her style and even though it did have many flaws.
If you’d like to see the in depth and thought provoking live streaming book club hosted by LADA, you have to join the Facebook page. I guarantee it’s worth it. I also hope this article opens up an in depth discussion from fans here at Krypton Radio. I’d love to hear what you thought of the book.