A Bittersweet Ending: A reaction to ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’

Much to the initial joy of fans around the world “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” was released on July 31, 2016. The Harry Potter fanbase went wild. “It’s an epilogue about Harry and the gang after book seven,” we all screamed, rushing the doorways of Barnes and Nobles establishments everywhere as employees braced for impact.

But the reaction after the fact was…less eager.

Let’s admit it. Many of us were disappointed. Some hated it. Some liked it. It wasn’t what many of us were expecting or what some of us wanted.

And yet I think it is something that many fans may have needed and I’m thankful to J.K. Rowling and John Hurt for giving it to us. Even though I too had parts I liked and disliked.

I want to remind readers that it’s ok to feel conflicted over this story. It’s not what we were used to. Things were certain things didn’t match up to what we knew. But some parts were good and humorous.

So, if you want my opinion, here’s my thoughts on the last addition to Harry Potter’s storyline.

What I disliked

There are several things to dislike about this script. And it isn’t the fact that its a script rather than a book. This is a play adapted into hardcover. If you were expecting a fleshed out novel you were likely very upset.

There are three things that I personally disliked about this tale including the villain, the alternate reality Snape and the deus ex machina move with a recovered time-turner. These are the main complaints that I’ve heard from other readers too.

  • The villain: The origin of this villain didn’t really make sense to anyone who knows about her supposed father’s origins. I had a thought that she was the villain early on so the reveal wasn’t too surprising either. Her presence in the story was just…too out of place for her to just be someone normal. In addition to this, I honestly didn’t see much depth to this character either, although that may have been on purpose but who knows. Either way, couldn’t we have used someone else or some other event to have moved the plot?
  • Snape in an alternate reality: Snape was not Snape. That’s it. He took on the role of martyr way too much and was far too nice to students, even for the setting he appeared in. Maybe it was meant to show what Snape would have been like had the alternate reality been real. Maybe not. Either way Snape wasn’t himself and I don’t think anyone liked him. At all.
  • The time turner: The entire conflict in this story was based around this item’s existence. It’s part in the story was a deus ex machina move as well and without it nothing really would have happened other than possible emotional turmoil with the characters which I probably would have preferred. The time turner plot honestly felt like a fanfiction bit. I can understand why it seemed like a good idea as it presented the audience with a series of what-ifs and made a statement about the delicacy of time. BUT STILL.

What I liked

So even with some majorly irksome parts to this story there was a lot that I liked about this script. I think I may have actually enjoyed it more because I went into this not expecting it to be as good as the books I grew up with. Maybe it let me read it with slightly rose-tinted glasses but either way here is what I enjoyed:

  • What was conveyed without writing it out: Let’s face the reality here. This wasn’t a book, this was a script for a play so it couldn’t give us the intricate little details that a fully written text would normally convey. Knowing that, I gives kudos for what readers are able to ascertain from the little things like stage directions and specific word choices written into the script. While we may not have gotten to know the characters as deeply as we did in the books, this actually provided a pretty good look at what the characters were thinking and feeling.
  • Challenging old stereotypes: Growing up reading the HP series many of us walked away with the mindset the Slytherin was bad and Gryffindor was good and Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff got caught in the crossfire between the two. This story slaps that prejudice in the face. It offers that the Slytherin House still exists after the battle of Hogwarts and, lo and behold, the students in the house aren’t really evil when their parents are bearing down on them with anti-Muggle propaganda. For once, we just have four normal houses even though we still see that old prejudices towards Slytherin haven’t quite died out.
  • We get to see how the characters ended up after “All was well”: What are the adventuring trio once the smoke settles? Thanks to this play we can actually get a glimpse of them as parents and adults with flaws and grounded personalities. We see them bringing out the best in their spouses and combating the worst. We see them struggle with a past that doesn’t always stay dead. We see them struggle as parents who have kids who aren’t exactly like them, who they have trouble understanding sometimes. We get a chance to see them in a relatively normal setting of life as wizards and witches. And it brings out a different side to them that I really liked learning about.

A final adieu

Okay, so, final take-aways. Some of us loved this and some of us hated it. I myself enjoyed it for the most part though that didn’t completely annul the parts that I felt could have been better.

Rowling openly stated that after this she was done with Harry Potter. No more Harry Potter books. And I’m honestly okay with that. This book, with all its good and bad, probably was the ending we needed. It gave us enough to let us know our trio had a life after the end of the 7th book but didn’t give us a whole extra series about the kids that may have felt repetitious or pedantic. In all honesty too, it gave us enough of a disappointment to help us let go and stop expecting more books.

So ultimately I’m happy with this. I am happy going back and re-reading those 7 books and re-living the adventure and knowing there was a more normal life for the characters later. And I’m okay leaving it at that.

(Personally though I’m still following Rowling’s writing with her stories written under her pen name Robert Galbraith. Look into them!)

Written by Brianna Gibbons, writer, book reviewer and avid reader. For more book-based talk, follow her on Twitter @Bookworm_ish.