Freitag, 12. August 2016

Harry Potter and the cursed child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne (2016)

J. K. Rowling opens the gate to Hogwarts for readers around the globe once more. The interest in a sequel of the magical story is huge. Who has visited some fanfiction sites recently will notice that the next generation section of Harry Potter is booming.
But what is Harry Potter and the cursed child all about? Is it a book worth buying or just an attempt to make more money out of a successful book series? Can J. K. Rowling and her team bring the magic back we all felt when first got lost into the magical story of an orphan boy?
Let’s have a closer look.

The core of the story

Harry Potter and the cursed child is more than a story about wizards and witches. It is a story about generations, about the conflicts between sons and fathers. It deals with issues of separation, struggle and reunification. It is all about accepting that time cannot be turned back and the past has to be accepted in order to move on.

The story concentrates on Harry’s son Albus Servers Potter who tries to find his own place in the wizarding world in spite of his famous father’s shadow. By doing so he gets into conflict with Harry. As readers we are not only introduced to Albus point of view but also to Harry’s life after his time in Hogwarts. Both characters have to deal with the history of the magical world to find a new way to each other.

New story – new genre?

We do not experience the familiar magic of the Harry Potter books anymore. It is no longer Harry’s story to be told, it is Albus’s turn. And a new story might also deserve a new form. That is probably why we should appreciate that Harry Potter and the cursed child was written as a script.
Due to the domination of prose texts in the book market some readers might find it unfamiliar to read a dramatic text these days while others consider the script a welcoming diversification of the market. Nevertheless readers should keep in mind that narrative techniques vary between epic and dramatic forms.
As mentioned above Harry Potter and the cursed child deals with interpersonal conflicts. But deeper insight into the psychology and emotional state of the characters cannot be given easily because of its dramatic form. On stage monologues and soliloquies serve this purpose but the authors created their plot without the use of these techniques. Rather J.K. Rowling and her team mainly used dialogues to drive their plot forward. This narrative technique creates a certain dramatic tension between the characters. As readers we cannot predict their exact reaction whenever conflicts arise and so we are kept curious what might happen next.

Reading a text which is written for stage also leads to spare descriptions of figures and places. The reader has to rely more on his/her imagination as with detailed epic texts. This is also the case for this book.

Another result of the dramatic form is the limited complexity of the story. J.K. Rowling created with her Harry Potter book series a complex plot and a lot of characters. Albus Serverus Potter’s story is not only reduced by the dramatic form of the text but also by the fact that his story is told over a time span of several years.
The lack of complexity leaves Harry Potter fans with a lot of unanswered questions alone. Where is Teddy Lupin? How are the rest of the Weasleys besides Ron and Ginny doing? Do Hagrid and Luna even exist in this future? How exactly is Albus’s relationship to his siblings and cousins? What happened to the S.P.E.W. movement? And how is a class given by Neville Longbottem experienced by students?
Readers do not find out about these things.
This information could have been given if more scenes would have been included into the plot for the reading audience. Creating a closet drama would be one option to give the reader more insight. Another one would be shifting the form of a drama to an epic text.

An opportunity for identification

Some scenes of Harry Potter and the cursed child are written very entertainingly, some are very heart breaking. Those who ever experienced the feeling of standing in someone’s shadow will feel with Albus when he struggles to follow his own way. Whoever felt the pressure of his family or society to commit oneself to a lifestyle one cannot simply adapt will appreciate this story. Everyone who struggled to find one’s place in our world will discover a part of oneself while reading this book.
Harry Potter and the cursed child is about moving away from Harry Potter’s past without regretting it. A process Albus has to go through, but he might not be the only one.

Moving away from Harry Potter

J.K. Rowling might have struggled like Albus did regarding Harry. She did not stand in the shadow of a father rather than her own work. Her magical book series was a huge worldwide success.
As an author she tried to move on, she published the Corman Strike crime novels under the pseudonym of Robert Galbraith. In 2012 her book The casual Vacancy appeared on the market. (Rowling 339)
By reading these publications some might got the feeling that the author tried desperately to move away from literature for children and young adults.
But should an author who weakened the boundaries between literature for adults and literature for children and young adults so effectively not do it again? Harry Potter was consumed not only by children and adolescents but also by a huge amount of adults. They seemed to find their inner child again when reading the story of the boy who lived.
Harry Potter and the cursed child is a book with the potential to go beyond these boundaries again. While young readers might identify with Albus, older ones will understand Harry’s struggle in parenting.
For J.K. Rowling this book might be a chance to settle down with literature for children and young adults again and doing what she can best – crossing boundaries.

But not only J.K. Rowling has to leave Harry behind. The ones who loved the magical story of the orphan boy should always have a place in their hearts for its magic. But other great stories are out there waiting to be discovered.
Readers should therefore treat Harry Potter and the cursed child as the thing it is – a new story with the right to be recognized as independent from a successful book series’ shadow. Who is ready to do so is ready to enjoy Albus’s story, too.

If you still have doubts considering reading this book, here are some bits you might enjoy. 

Dialog from Harry Potter and the cursed child (SPOILER!!!)

Did you really think she’d come to us? Potters don’t belong in Slytherin.

This one does.

As he tries to melt into the background, the other students laugh. He looks up at them all.

I didn’t choose, you know that? I didn’t choose to be his son. (Rowling 29)


Rowling, J.K., John Tiffany and Jack Thorne. Harry Potter and the cursed child. London: Little, Brown, 2016.

Facts about the book:

cover: hardcover
page numbering: 343
year of publication: 2016
language: English
ISBN: 978-0-7515-6535-5
publishing house: Little, Brown

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two (Special Rehearsal Edition): The Official Script Book of the Original West End Production

Review written by my lovely friend Daniela Kletzl

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