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.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – Ransom Riggs (2011) [Minor Spoilers]

I decided I had to read this book after I saw the trailer for the film. I’ll admit the main things that stood out to me in the trailer were Asa Butterfield and Eva Green but the concept interested me too. The idea of an orphanage for children with powers was something I hadn’t seen before –  the closest thing being Camp Half-Blood in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & The Olympians. I decided that I had to see the film, and, as with most films based on books, I decided that I had to read the book before the film. (I usually do this. I did it with Percy Jackson, City of Bones, Divergent, The Hunger Games, Twilight – and even Wicked, before I saw the musical.)

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is about a teenage boy named Jacob, who, after a family tragedy, goes to a small island off the coast of Wales in search of the home his grandfather lived in as an evacuee during World War II. Jacob’s grandfather had told him fantasical stories about his childhood in that home and Jacob felt a pull towards the place.

This book didn’t go the way I expected it to. From the way the trailer is, I thought the story would take place during modern day, but it doesn’t. Jacob winds up in 1940 inside a thing called a Loop. A Loop is a form of stasis for the children and Miss Peregrine. The same day is repeated again and again and the children don’t grow older. They remember the events of the previous days as you and I do outside of a Loop, but they are forever living on the 3rd September 1940. The Loop keeps the children safe from the hollows – mutated Peculiars with a hunger for Peculiar flesh – as well as the bomb that was dropped on the home by a German bomber. The Loop resets just before the bomb explodes, keeping everyone safe.

I really enjoyed this book and managed to read it in just over a week. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump all year and haven’t read nearly as much as I’ve wanted to, so reading it in a week is pretty good for me this year. I enjoyed the photographs that accompany the story. At the back of the book, the author states that all photographs featured in the book are actual vintage photographs which had little to no editing involved on them. Being in a slump, the photographs helped break up the story a little bit more than the chapters alone did, and this helped me get through the book more easily than I probably would have otherwise.

I would say that Jacob is my favourite character, but a problem I found with this book is that the other characters aren’t characterised very well. I found it difficult to get to know the other characters, save for Jacob’s father. Hopefully this will improve in the rest of the series. I’ll find out soon enough as I’m going to get Hollow City from the library tomorrow.

The story in this first book is intriguing, to say the least. Modern fantasy is one of my favourite genres and I love entering new worlds with complex histories and creatures. The creatures and the lore in this story are original and something I’ve never seen the likes of before. I look forward to reading the rest of the series and seeing the film. I hope they live up to expectations.