Harry Potter and the Cursed Child / by Madeleine

Whether or not you are a dedicated Harry Potter fan, you must have heard of this summer's biggest release:  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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I've mentioned this before, but I could definitely be described as a Harry Potter fanatic. I first read the books when I was about nine years old, and have re-read the entire series close to ten times. I love Harry Potter trivia, I watch the movies pretty frequently, and I'm always using Hermione as an example of a role model for my students. I'm part of what's referred to as the Harry Potter Generation, which means that I essentially grew up with the story and the series played a significant role in shaping my reading identity.

So, it goes without saying that the moment I heard about the new release, I pre-ordered a copy (that was back in February) and I spent the intervening months excitedly awaiting the release. 

There's one thing that I want to make clear to those who have not yet read the book, because I think that sometimes publishers, in all their eagerness, forget to really advertise the little details that are important to avid fans. This happened with Go Set a Watchman, the unedited first draft manuscript from Harper Lee, which was unfairly advertised as the prequel to To Kill a Mockingbird

, and which caused significant uproar to those who were unaware of that when they read it, only to find out that an iconic character (Atticus Finch) was portrayed quite differently (read: negatively). I avoided reading Go Set a Watchman because I was really unsure about the ethics of publishing it (did Harper Lee really give permission? I felt like she was taken advantage of) and I didn't want the characters that I knew and loved to be spoiled for me. I've heard that some people are, quite rightly, feeling hesitant about reading The Cursed Child for similar reasons. If that's you, I can say that I believe it is 100% worth reading, but that you should be well-aware of the facts first:

This wasn't written by J.K. Rowling. It's not actually the eighth story, but it is a continuation of the book for the next generation. It was based on the epilogue from the seventh book, so it is founded in the facts that J.K. has laid out concerning the later happenings in the wizarding world. It's also a play script, for the production taking place in London right now. So you can imagine that the reading experience is not going to be quite the same. 

That being said, I do highly recommend it for all fans, if not for the experience of delving into that world again -- because let's face it, J.K. has left us with just the seven books and seems perfectly content with that decision.

If you've read it/have no interest in reading it/don't care about spoilers (because, SPOILER ALERT!), read on!

I'm not going to summarize the entire book for you, but here are my top five thoughts immediately after reading:

(1) Draco Malfoy, I always knew you'd be redeemed! 

(2) Scorpius Malfoy is far and away my favorite character. Please let's be friends in real life.

(3) You can absolutely tell this was not written by J.K. Her style is extremely unique and the voice of the main characters was just not there. Harry, Hermione, and Ron were all pretty off -- but especially Ron. That was the disappointing part, in my opinion.

(3) Interesting that Voldemort had a child. I always thought that he was not interested in liaisons because he was too narcissistic/power hungry and would be absolutely jealous if any child of his threatened his rightful place as the Dark Lord. Also, Bellatrix Lestrange was practically throwing herself at him the entire series and he was quite obviously slightly annoyed with her eagerness -- I find it a little hard to believe that he would have had a child with her. 

(4) The thought of different realities, influenced by the tiniest change in events during the fourth year, was really fascinating to me. Cedric, a death eater? The return of Umbridge? (Ugh, thanks but no thanks). 

(5) Not to mention the different storylines for Ron and Hermione's romance -- I like the original version the best. 

Of course, I've only read it the once (and in a span of three hours) so I plan on re-reading more slowly next week so that I can see how my thoughts change.

If you've read the book and would like to debate the finer points of fan theories with me, feel free to email me at topshelftext@gmail.com. I'd love to hear from you!