You won’t like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. That is, if you believe in the sanctity of the seven-book canon. HPCC breaks the rules, repeatedly.
First, it is a screenplay, not a novel.
Second, it mashes together characters who you always imagined would cross paths but never actually thought would (think: elevated fan fiction).
Third, it takes us into J.K. Rowling’s world but is clearly not written by Rowling herself. Despite her name taking center stage on the cover, we don’t know what role she played, exactly, in creating HPCC. However, there are enough interlocking plot points between this and the original series to think she at had least some of it buzzing around her head like the Golden Snitch.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a refreshing plunge into a pool of nostalgia, an excuse to keep strolling through a newly beloved world.
These three qualities may seem like cons; to me, they’re pros. HPCC is fun. It’s breezy. It’s a one- (maybe two-) day read that, for older readers, is a refreshing plunge into a pool of nostalgia and, for younger readers, is an excuse to keep strolling through a newly beloved world.
As for age appropriateness, Common Sense Media recommends HPCC for ages 10 and above. That sounds about right to me. There are some scary scenes (though nothing near the level of Harry Potter books 5 and on) but what will trip young readers up more is the format.
You lose something reading HPCC as a screenplay. There were many times where, in the course of the story, I thought, Boy, how cool would this be live? So if you do read HPCC, on your own or with your child, make it interactive. Perhaps read it aloud as a family (dibs on Scorpius!). After you’re done, watch videos of the cast performing; explore Rowling’s site, Pottermore, and the play’s Instagram; cross your fingers and hope to win the ticket lottery to see it onstage.
As for what’s next for Harry Potter, Rowling has already said this is it. HPCC is the end, for real this time. Her marketing team may not agree, but I’m inclined to believe her.
There’s a finality around HPCC, a sense of having taken a quick peek over our collective shoulder before returning to life as normal. We lifted the curtain, remembered what we loved and went on our way — our hearts a little more full, our spirits a little more buoyant, our days a little more magical. And really, what’s wrong with that?
The writer shares her fond memories of reading Harry Potter as a kid. Read on.