By Cassidy Delahunty, executive entertainment editor
The phrase, “new Harry Potter book” is one I had been waiting to hear since I was 13 years old. However, the excitement I felt upon hearing about The Cursed Child was far more than what I felt when actually reading it, as the so-called eighth installment in the beloved series was no more than a compilation of cliché fanfiction tropes and distortions of everything about the original series that I have loved for so long.
Before I started reading it, I had brushed aside all the negative comments I had heard about The Cursed Child and instead decided to focus on the positive. However, a few pages in, I could already tell that the negative comments were far more accurate.
One of the biggest complaints I have is the gross mischaracterization of some of the characters that were originally some of the most well written and dynamic I had ever seen.
Hermione Granger is portrayed as no more than a stuck up, bossy, government official, instead of displaying the intelligence, vulnerability, bravery and overall human-ness that makes her such a compelling and lovable character in the original series.
Ron Weasley is reduced to comic relief, only ever making comments when the scenes are getting a little too dark. He never once displays the vast magical knowledge he has acquired over the years from living in the wizard world longer than both Hermione and Harry Potter himself, nor does he give any hint of his fiercely loyal friendships he has developed over the years with Harry and Hermione.
Even Harry Potter himself has no resemblance to the Harry of the original seven books. Instead of an extremely kind person, a loyal and loving friend and husband, or a person who just went through too much too young, Harry is a so-so father who shows no effort to try to do better where his guardians failed. Even though Harry does not lock his son in a closet, he ignores what he wants and does what he thinks is best despite what his son says. This is ironic considering that an extreme source of conflict in the original books was Harry feeling as though he had no control over his own life and was not being given any information about his own future from adults he trusted.
Even if we ignore characters who were heavily covered in the original books and instead focus on characters who are original to this book, the character development is sloppy at best.
Aside from Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius (who is a human ray of sunshine, might I add), characters feel underdeveloped and one sided. Albus Potter is an angst-ridden teenager who only acts to go against his father’s wishes. Rose Weasley is a fiery, angry redhead whose only character traits are a combination of her parents’ most prominent and surface level qualities. Delphi Diggory is a beautiful girl who only exists to make Scorpius jealous that someone else has his best friend’s attention and to cause conflict.
Along with this, aspects of the Harry Potter universe that gave Hogwarts the warmth and light characteristic of the series were completely and utterly twisted.
At one point towards the middle of the book, Albus and Scorpius attempt to leave the Hogwarts express. Instead of facing trouble escaping from professors, other students, or even just the speed of the train, the boys find trouble escaping from one of the cornerstone’s of Hogwarts’ charm: The sweet old lady who pushes the food trolley.
When Albus and Scorpius make it to the roof of the train, the trolley lady follows them, her hair and teeth transforming into long, sharp spikes, revealing that the lady who was for so long valued as a kind and welcoming presence to guide children coming to Hogwarts into comfort and new friendships is instead a gatekeeping demon who will harm children if necessary to keep them on the train.
However, the worst part is that even if you ignore all the ways that The Cursed Child distorts thousands of readers’ vision of the beloved magic school, the book is just straight up poorly written. The plot relies on clichés and predictable twists that have already been written about so many times in amateur fanfictions that it’s almost laughable that the authors of this book would even consider using them as plot devices.
If the goal of The Cursed Child was to get people to start being invested once again in the Harry Potter universe, it definitely worked; I’m going to have to reread the whole series just to get the taste of this book out of my mouth.