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Book Review: “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” disappoints

On Harry Potter’s birthday, July 31, the latest story in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World was released: “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”

The story is not a new book, exactly. Instead, it is the script of a two-part play written by Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, based off of a story created by Rowling. The play premiered in London on July 30, the day before the novelization was released, and the story is the eighth story in the Harry Potter world.

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“Cursed Child” tells the story of Harry Potter’s youngest son Albus as he attends Hogwarts for the first time and grapples with living up to the legacy of his father, who is now an overworked Ministry of Magic employee. Albus makes friends with Scorpius Malfoy, the son of Draco Malfoy, and disaster strikes when Albus’ frustrations with his father lead him to a disastrous decision.

The new characters in the story, of which there are few, are even less memorable. Although the script format of the story leads to far less introspection than the previous Harry Potter stories have thrived off of, this is no excuse for how static and uninteresting many of the children in the story are. Albus is the stereotypical angsty teenager seen in every coming-of-age story, and Scorpius is the only character who I felt any affection for, simply because he was sweet and seemed the only one to have any logical motivation.

Many characters who returned from previous stories seemed to be shadows of themselves, included only as a nod to the original books. Although there is no doubt that excellent performances from actors onstage could bring life to many of the characters, they are poorly written from a novel standpoint.

The story itself is also unsatisfying. Although I could not put the novel down after picking it up, this was mostly due to the ease of reading and the hope that some part of the story would have a redeemable quality. Otherwise, it’s not a stretch to say that this story feels like fan-fiction more than anything.

It’s a story I’ve read before. Without spoiling anything, nearly every aspect of “Cursed Child” is a trope or cliche that I’ve seen done better in many other instances. It exists only to set up fan-service to the many of us who are reading this story because we grew up with “Harry Potter” and are excited to read a new story from the world that was so amazing in our childhood.

I found myself hating how many scenes were delivered in the script, and although it was obvious how some scenes were written to work better on the stage, this shouldn’t have detracted from the magic that the previous stories were so full of.

If the play ever makes its way to Denver, I will absolutely pay to go see it. I love theater, and I love “Harry Potter,” and I would love to see the interpretations of these characters. Perhaps it might even change my mind about this story a bit. However, this doesn’t change the fact that “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” as a novel is by far the worst story in the series.

Although I have no issues with Rowling continuing to produce new stories in the world she has created, and I’m excited for “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” this story proves that the story of Harry Potter is over, and that many fans can imagine the adventures of his children better than she seems able to write them.

Collegian Social Managing Editor Chapman W. Croskell can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @Nescwick.

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