This article contains spoilers from the book as plot points are discussed. I strongly encourage you to read the Cursed Child before proceeding…
It’s been five years since we last saw Harry and the gang and if you’re like me, you’ve been slightly depressed about the end of the Potter-era. That is, until the Cursed Child was announced last September and had readers worldwide eagerly anticipating the premiere of the play and the release of the published script.
Set 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts, the Cursed Child focuses on Harry’s youngest son, Albus Severus Potter. The script is a fairly quick read since it does not involve Rowling’s imaginative detail from the original series. However, Cursed Child recalls the themes of love and hope, the power of friendship, and of course, lightness versus darkness.
Harry struggles to empathize with Albus, resulting in some regrettable choice words. Their personalities are more similar then they realize: both are determined to create their own identity regardless of the precedent that has been set. Both have a desire to prove themselves – Harry never wanted the notoriety of “The Boy Who Lived” and Albus does not wish to be known as the son of “The Chosen One”.
Just as Harry befriended Ron on the train during his first year, Albus also finds loyal friendship with Scorpius Malfoy, son of Draco Malfoy. Both boys face difficulties living with the burden of their fathers’ reputations, deepening their bond. In an effort to remedy the past, they become involved in a plot to travel back in time to save the late Cedric Diggory with the help of Delphi, Amos Diggory’s (supposed) niece.
At various stages, the script becomes too predictable and reminiscent of the past. Albus, Scorpius, and Delphi use Polyjuice Potion to infiltrate the Ministry of Magic to steal a Time-Turner (similar to the original trio’s plot to steal the horcrux in Deathly Hallows). The risks involved with time-travel are not fully grasped until it is too late and alternate realities are created.
In one reality, Hermione and Ron do not marry and both fall short of their full potential. Without Ron to soften her, Hermione is cold and almost cruel, while he is dim-witted and married to Padma Patil (settling much?). In another reality, where Harry is killed during the Battle of Hogwarts, Ron and Hermione are fugitives and Voldemort survives. The Dark Lord’s reign is our worst nightmare: a fear-filled dictatorship proclaiming the mantra “For Voldemort and Valour”.
We also discover Delphi’s true identity: she’s the daughter of Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange (ew, gross!). Oh, how I loathe imagining an intimate relationship between the two… I always assumed more than just Voldemort’s nose was missing. Like a chalky pale Ken doll with a propensity to avada kedavra your ass if you snickered at it. But where there’s a will there’s a way, and with magic you can do just about anything.
Delphi manipulates the boys to gain control of the Time-Turner, using it to return to that fateful night of October 30, 1981, when Voldemort tries to kill infant Harry. In an almost unbelievable sequence of events, (adult) Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Draco travel back to this moment to stop Delphi and rescue their sons. With Albus by his side, Harry must face his past and relive his parents’ murder. This experience provides closure for Harry and forms a newfound respect and appreciation between father and son.
Overall, the story is light-hearted even as we discover that darkness can come from unlikely places. With the exception of the children, nothing is entirely new about this story but more of an encore from the original series. It is assuring to know that love, light and friendship prevail because even if there’s a fight ahead of them, they will always have something Voldemort (and darkness) doesn’t have: something worth fighting for.
Have you read Cursed Child or plan on doing so? What are your thoughts on the direction and future of the Harry Potter series?