ELLE Book Club

Book of the week: Harry Potter And The Cursed Child

The last story for Potterheads by JK Rowling

CliffsNotes: “After all this time”, there’s a story from the Harry Potter universe. That’s not counting the many Pottermore missives and Twitter posts from JK Rowling over the last nine years. Harry Potter And The Cursed Child: Parts One And Two is written by JK Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne. The fat book is a Special Rehearsal Edition of the script of the play that premiered in London on July 30.

Cursed Child opens at the close – taking off from where the last book of the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, ended – at King’s Cross, with Potter seeing off his children on to the Hogwarts Express.

So far, we had been lulled into believing that 19 years on, everything is alright, because The Chosen One’s scar hasn’t prickled for a while. But then this isn’t exactly Harry’s story. The wand passes on to Albus Severus Potter, Harry and Ginny Weasley’s middle son, who is buckling under the burden of his heavyweight names and surname. Things get worse when he gets sorted into Slytherin at Hogwarts. Not only that, he ends up befriending Scorpius Malfoy, that’s right, the son of Draco Malfoy. Throw in a “twenty-something determined-woman” called Delphi who convinces them to go time travelling for a seemingly noble cause and that’s Cursed Child sans-spoilers for you. But the two young wizards discover that time travelling comes with serious repercussions, as they stumble through one horrifying alternative reality after another.

Get a taste: The Cursed Child is ultimately a script for the stage, and at times it leaves you cold or at least wanting for more, such as knowing what the characters are thinking or feeling. Instead you have narratives such as “An OVER-ATTENTIVE WIZARDS begins to circle them” or “ALBUS hesitates a moment, and then his face strengthens”. Okay then. Of course, the good thing is that for many children and adults, this will be a lovely way to read a play script and understand its subtleties. And going by the reviews, it seems like the play is quite spectacular, and that is the whole purpose of this story.

Of course, The Cursed Child will take place pride beside our first edition Potter books, and that’s because it has its moments. Moments of nostalgia, humour, and poignancy. And magic. For Potterheads, it’s one more chance to hop aboard the Hogwarts Express, revisit some of their favourite characters, and silently cheer as Albus and Scorpius take us back into the magical world of witches and wizards. This is a story to be cherished, because it reveals Harry’s vulnerability as a parent and reminds us once again, the power of love and friendship. Like in this scene where Harry talks to Professor Dumbledore’s portrait, who is barely paint and memory.

“DUMBLEDORE: A difficult thing. I imagine, to watch your child in pain.

HARRY looks up at DUMBLEDORE, and then down at ALBUS.

HARRY: I’ve never asked how you felt about me naming him after you, have I?

DUMBLEDORE: Candidly, Harry, it seemed a great weight to place upon the poor boy.

HARRY: I need your help. I need your advice. Bane says Albus is in danger. How do I protect my son, Dumbledore?

DUMBLEDORE: You ask me, of all people, how to protect a boy in terrible danger? We cannot protect the young from harm. Pain must and will come.

HARRY: So I’m supposed to stand and watch?

DUMBLEDORE: No. you’re supposed to teach him how to meet life.

HARRY: How? He won’t listen.

DUMBLEDORE: Perhaps he’s waiting for you to see him clearly.”

Professor Dumbledore, still able to turn a phrase, and how.

Author 101: You don’t need a Rememberall to recollect that The Cursed Child is not written by Rowling alone. There are two more writers involved, director John Tiffany and playwright Jack Thorne. Tiffany directed Once, for which he won awards on both Broadway and the West End. Thorne writes across theatre, film, TV, and radio.

Fun Fact: This one’s the exact opposite of a fun fact. In one of the alternate realities that pop up on Albus and Scorpius’ time travelling sojourns, Ron Weasley ends up marrying Padma Patil, and for some inexplicable reason, they choose to name their son, Panju. What we can conclude is that with an unfortunate name like that, it is Panju who must be the Cursed Child. Seriously, Albus Severus Potter may be named after two headmasters of Hogwarts and is the son of The Boy Who Lived, but at least he’s not named Panju.

Similar reads: The Harry Potter (seven books) series by JK Rowling and The Hogwarts Library Set: Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them: From The World Of Harry Potter,

Quidditch Through The Ages: From The World Of Harry Potter, and The Tales Of Beedle The Bard by JK Rowling.