The Outcasted Book

A Review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a Play by J. K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany

/ by Katarina Ferk

Like a child awaiting their Hogwarts letter, I've been anxiously hanging by the mailbox, waiting for the new Harry Potter book. After it finally arrived, I couldn't help but glide my fingers across its shiny cover, and take a peek inside. Of course, when I came across a big pair of letters saying “PART ONE,” I wasn't able to put it down.

The eighth story, nineteen years later, picks up at the end of the Deathly Hallows epilogue, where we see the grownup Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny and Draco saying goodbye to their children, who are on their way to Hogwarts. We read again about Harry's conversation with his son Albus, and Albus's fear of getting into Slytherin. After the father-son talk, we are once and for all reminded of the way Harry will be presented to us in this story - as a father, and not as the teenage character with whom we fought dragons and trolls.

What is interesting about this story are the characters; you never know who you're going to love and who you're going to hate. Rose, daughter of Ron and Hermione, at first gives us the impression of being a snob, and a very angry little girl, after she refuses to share the Hogwarts Express compartment with Scorpious, Draco Malfoy's son. It is revealed that there is a rumor going around about Scorpious being Voldemort's biological son, which supposedly happened with the help of a Time-Turner. Rose leaves, but Albus, like the most of us, is charmed by Scorpious’ sunny and harmless personality. At Hogwarts, Albus' prediction comes true, and he is sorted into Slytherin, but he goes light-hearted, for cheerful Scorpious welcomes him at the Slytherin table.

At first, everyone at Hogwarts was happy at the arrival of another Potter, judging Albus solely on the basis of his parents. After he was sorted into Slytherin, the atmosphere around him changed. They did not see him as a true Potter, but as an outcast, somebody for whom they had hopes high, and when they finally met him, he disappointed them. Unfortunately, this is just what happens to the readers of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Everyone expected another Harry Potter story, but once they realized this story, much like Albus, was different from the others, they were disappointed. What we must remind ourselves is; although this story is a part of Harry Potter series, it is not about Harry Potter. It is about his son, Albus Severus Potter, and thus the atmosphere of the story diverts from the original.

The story is written in the form of a play, and while this may be distracting for some, it is quite enjoyable for the others. Rowling's spell-binding writing style bewitched us with a permanent image of Hogwarts that not even one of Gilderoy Lockhart's memory charms could erase. With a touch of imagination, anything is possible; even re-creating Hogwarts in our minds, regardless of John Tiffany's and Jack Thorne's modest descriptions.

The story flashes forward, perhaps a bit too quickly, through Albus' years at Hogwarts. In the fourth year, we are left with an extremely bitter Albus, who has been feeling the pressure of his father's name throughout the years. Albus' cranky personality makes us wonder if it truly was Harry who lived in the cupboard under the stair, and not in fact, Albus. Thankfully, Scorpious high-spirited personality remains unchanged, if anything he becomes more upbeat every year. Regardless of being an outcast himself, bearing his father's name as well as the Voldemort rumor, he is simply a ray of sunshine, and a fan favorite.

The adventure begins after Albus overhears Amos Diggory's plea, asking Harry to use the newly-found Time-Turner to save his son, Cedric. After Harry refuses, Albus decides to take action, thus climbing out of his outcast cage. Of course, he takes his best friend Scorpious with him, who is reluctant at first. Later, Draco states that his son is “more of a follower, than a leader.” Harry's and Albus' crushed father-son dynamic mimics that of Draco and Scorpious. Both pairs have issues, and the growing tensions force the fathers to join forces, in order to help and save their children.

We are confronted by the grownup versions of Harry and Draco, and for some strange reason we find ourselves agreeing with Draco Malfoy, and his parenting decisions. Harry, although with good intentions, drives a wedge between Albus and Scorpious, and consequently between himself and Albus, as well.

Much like his father in his youth, Albus is determined to prove himself. He, Scorpious and Delphi Diggory (Cedric's cousin) break into Hermione's office, who is now the Minister of Magic. Once they start solving riddles, searching for the hidden Time-Turner, one remembers the earliest mischief of young Harry, Ron and Hermione. Scorpious is the smartest of them all, and he proves himself to be the “Hermione” of the group. They manage to steal the Time-Turner, and decide to save Cedric at the Triwizard Tournament, which was the subject of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

When the trio decides to save Cedric, thus altering the past, they hardly think of the consequences time meddling might bring. Dumbledore himself said the consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed,” and the group of misfits simply didn't have time to think about that.

The butterfly effect soon shows itself, after Albus and Scorpious come home to an alternate version of their present. Albus doesn't seem particularly worried, considering his cousin Rose has vanished into thin air, and so did Ron and Hermione's marriage, but Scorpious is the voice of reason. Although he wants to fix the current situation, he does not want to use the Time-Turner again. But, as his father said, he is more of a follower than a leader. The boys use the Time-Turner one more time, but this time everything turns into chaos.

Scorpious is left alone in a world where the boy who lived died, and the one who shall not be named ruled. In this world he is royalty, the Scorpion King. And although there are some perks that go with not being an outcast, Scorpious is too gentle, and too kind for Voldemort's world. Through the screams of tortured Mudbloods, Scorpious finds his way to the only person he knows could help him: Severus Snape. Apprehensively, Snape at first doesn't seem to believe him, that is until he mentions Lily's name.

We meet the alternative versions of Hermione and Ron, both fierce warriors. In order to help Scorpious, all three of them (Snape, Hermione, Ron) sacrifice themselves in the most heart-tearing way. Although we know this is an alternative universe, the scene proves to be extremely emotional, as we are forced to witness the downfall of our heroes.

The present is restored, and meddling with time seems a thing of the past. As we think we're safe, we are reminded of a character we’d almost forgotten; the love child of Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange. The whole concept of Voldemort's child seemed strange to me, especially since I thought of him as an asexual being.  The fact that the child was born in the Malfoy Manor, right before the Battle of Hogwarts, seemed a little too far-fetched, as well, but it was definitely one of the plot-shockers.

The cursed child is definitely the theme of the story, for all children are affected by the sins of their fathers. The father-child relationship is the central subject, even between Dumbledore and Harry. Although Dumbledore is just a painting, Harry still feels strong emotions of angst towards one of the few father figures in his life. Harry and Draco's lack of a proper fathers caused issues with their own children. They don't know how to connect with their sons, because they never experienced this themselves. The lack of a father figure is also apparent with Voldemort's offspring, who is desperate to be accepted and loved by him, but as we all know, at least one of those things is entirely impossible.

The eighth story, nineteen years later, seems to be the outcast, the “spare one” of the Harry Potter franchise. Although it is based on an original J. K. Rowling story, it was adapted for stage by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne. Regardless of the lack of Rowling's charming spells of words, Tiffany and Thorne did their best to conjure the magical world of Harry Potter in this special rehearsal edition script. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a treat for anyone with a sweet tooth for Harry Potter, in the words of J. K. Rowling: “Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

Katarina Ferk

is a comparative literature and literary theory graduate, trying to make it as a writer in YA fiction world. Binge watching The 100 is her guilty pleasure, but she still makes time to sit down and do some serious writing on her laptop. Katarina was in the top fifteen in the international competition called Young Writers Prize, hosted by Hot Key Books, in the top five in a short story competition, presented by Cosmopolitan, and she won the second prize in Slovenian Short Story Competition, hosted by NMN.