Harry Potter and the Cursed Child -J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne & John Tiffany (2016) [Spoilers]

I decided well before I even received my copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child that I wouldn’t review it immediately after reading it. I knew that, being a massive Harry Potter fan growing up (I still am), my thoughts on the play would be clouded by intense nostalgia and love for the series that has been ever-present in my life. I was almost right.

After finishing the book, I immediately went to Goodreads (as I always do) to tell the world that I had read this book and to give it a star rating. Since the announcement of the published script, I had hoped to give it a nice, proud five-star rating and to be filled with the joy and wonder that has always accompanied the Harry Potter universe for me. As it turns out, that didn’t happen, and the book got a nice – but not great – four stars from me.

As expected, I loved the book. I just didn’t love it as much as I had expected. I was so happy to be back inside the world of Harry Potter – particularly the book world. But as much as I loved the new characters (particularly Scorpius, who is my favourite from the book), I was somewhat disappointed in the returning characters.

Harry himself was by far the most disappointing of the returning characters. His entire character seemed wrong to me. That wasn’t the Harry Potter I had grown up loving. I know that it is set 22 years after the final book, but Harry’s life in between didn’t seem to be particularly taxing enough to cause such a massive change in personality.

Draco was also a disappointment; in particular, his relationship with Harry. In the epilogue of Deathly Hallows, there is a minor interaction between Draco and Harry, and from that interaction I inferred that their relationship had changed somewhat in the years since the Battle of Hogwarts. I believed that they had become quite civil acquaintances and would be able to have a decent conversation without snapping at each other. Clearly I was wrong.

However, the return of Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger made me very happy. Their relationship was still quite fun and enjoyable to read, despite the fact that Hermione has probably the hardest job in the Wizarding World. I have to confess that my mental image of Hermione was in fact a white woman. This was not because I don’t approve of the play’s casting, but because that’s the mental picture I’ve had in my mind since reading the Philosopher’s Stone many years ago. And as strange as it may seem to some people, changing your mental image of a fictional character is really hard.

I particularly enjoyed Hermione’s characterisation in the second timeline that was created with the time-turner. Hermione badass, warrior rebel and it made me happy to see her be something other than the bookworm we all know and love. This was my favourite timeline because of another thing: Snape. I don’t know whether it was the fact that Snape was actually a good guy – and we got to see him be a good guy – or the fact that I’m still sad about Alan Rickman, but I absolutely loved Snape in this book.

Albus Potter wasn’t as great a character as I had hoped for. To me he seemed like a bit of a brat who didn’t seem to want anything to do with his father, no matter what Ginny said. According to her, Albus wanted to feel Harry’s love, but I didn’t pick any of that up. He seemed to get worse and worse as the book progressed. He was worse than OOTP Harry.

To move on, I’m going to talk about the story. I found the story somewhat lacking in the ‘point’ department. I didn’t see a ‘point’ in the story. The plot came out of nowhere and seemed entirely random. I mean, save Cedric Diggory? Who came up with this? And why was Albus so determined to rescue someone he never knew and who didn’t really mean much to anyone other than Amos? It all seemed a little bit forced. It also seemed to me that nothing really happened. There were no character arcs or “new equilibrium” that usually follows a plot heavy story. There wasn’t much difference between the beginning at the end is what I’m trying to say. There were no character evolutions and the plot had absolutely no effect of the world in the long run. Rose’s character was also destroyed right at the beginning. I highly doubt that she would stop talking to her cousin – who I assume she’s close to – because he chose to sit with a Malfoy.

Delphini was an interesting character. I remember there being rumours and headcanons all over the internet about Voldemort having an heir with Bellatrix Lestrange, and I was actually quite happy to find out she actually was. I did find her to be an odd, off character but me being naïve thought she was actually a protagonist and didn’t suspect a thing. I liked the idea of her going back to the night of the Potter’s deaths to save her father rather than going to the night of his death. It was a very logical, smart thing to do.

My biggest dislike was actually the ‘romance’ in the book. Albus’s crush on Delphini didn’t sit right with me and Scorpius asking Rose out was completely out of the blue and made absolutely no sense. Rose despised Scorpius from the get-go and I can’t see how Scorpius developed a crush on her at all. In my complete and utter honest opinion, I thought Albus and Scorpius would become a couple. From the awkward interactions at the beginning, to the “Do we do hugs?”, to the clear amount of love those boys held for each other, I saw a couple. People could argue that it was just a strong friendship bond and that there was no romance at all, but to me they were as clear as Ron/Hermione. Rowling failed with her representation of LGBTQ+ characters in the original series, I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to change that. Alas, no. Heterosexuality must prevail, apparently.

I did really enjoy this book, despite all the dislikes I appear to have ranted about in this post. It took me a total of 7 hours to complete the book from start to finish, including breaks for food and other things. It was great to return to the world of Harry Potter for what was probably the final time. I will miss it greatly, but we can’t have something this great go on for too long, lest it be ruined by continuing on for longer than necessary. (Looking at you, Supernatural.)  Of course, we have Fantastic Beasts to look forward to, but it’s not going to be quite the same as returning to the actual character of Harry Potter.

The Winds of Winter – Game of Thrones Season 6 Finale

Anyone who knows me knows that my opinion of the last 2 seasons of Game of Thrones is pretty negative. I’m a person who likes my adaptations to stick to the original source material as closely as possible, something Game of Thrones hasn’t done as of late.

Now I know nothing can stick to source material 100%, especially something as large as A Song of Ice and Fire, but they managed well with seasons 1-4 without much of a problem, but then crammed 2 novels (3 books) worth of material into season 5 and then overtook the books for season 6, taking the story into their own hands, but I digress.

Episode 10 of almost all of the seasons has been pretty bad in my opinion. This may be because episode 9 is the big climax to each season and that episode 10 is the aftermath, which is never as enjoyable as the climax itself. However episode 10 of season 6, The Winds of Winter, was definitely a great episode. This episode might even beat episode 9 for me.

Cersei dealt with the High Sparrow and his band of fanatics, as well as taking out Margaery in the process (much to my despair). Daenerys has finally set sail for Westeros, Arya went home and crossed another name of her list (and about time too!), and Tommen met his foreseen demise, if in an unpredictable way.

Despite the fact that Margaery was killed in a fiery explosion and the beautiful Natalie Dormer will no longer be gracing our screens on Game of Thrones, Kings Landing hosted my favourite parts of this episode. I loved seeing Cersei’s plot unfurl. Watching Lancel crawl to the barrels of wildfire to try and put out the fuse was an enjoyable bit of mental torture for the religious fanatic. Seeing him fail was even better. The floor erupting beneath the High Sparrow and the wildfire engulfing him was a beautiful sight (despite, as I’ve said, the tragic deaths of Margaery and Loras Tyrell). What I also found amusing was the fact that Cersei used the zombie Mountain to keep Tommen away from Baelor’s Sept in order to keep him alive, but once he was told of Margaery’s death, he decided to take an stroll out of a high window of the Red Keep. What this means is that Cersei can now die at any time, since the Maegi from her childhood predicted that all of her children will die before her, and now they have. (I’m annoyed about Myrcella but I’ll let it go for now.)

The most satisfying scene in this episode, if not the entire season, was in the Twins. An unknown girl enters the great hall and serves Walder Frey a nice big pie. He wonders aloud where his sons are and the girl insists that they are already there. And by that she meant that they were dead, carved up and baked into the pie that Frey was just about to tuck into. A moment later the girl pulls off her face, revealing Arya Stark, getting revenge at last. After a nice little vengence speech, Arya slices open Walder Frey’s throat, much like how Black Walder murdered Arya’s mother.

Daenerys! Daenerys has finally set sail for Westeros. Six seasons we’ve waited for this and now it’s actually happening. Only without Ser Jorah Mormont or Daario Naharis at Dany’s side.  The big question on everyone’s lips is: When the heck did Varys get back? I also asked myself this question, and from online comments I’ve managed to understand that the last few scenes take place a while after the preceding ones. Varys manages to travel from Dorne back to Meereen, Jaime travels from Riverrun to Kings Landing, and Arya travels from Braavos to the Twins. My only problem with this theory is that Dany and Tyrion are talking about setting sail with no Varys in sight or mentioned. It’s assumed (at least by me) that Dany sets sail very soon after this conversation. I guess I’ll just have to put it down to some confusing editing and move on.