A few weeks ago I scooted through the hot-off-the-press script of the latest J K Rowling creation: ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’. I wasn’t sure what to make of there being a sequel: I generally think series of novels are best left ‘finished’ rather than projected into the future, a problem CS Lewis solved by killing off all his characters as well as the setting which spawned them. I partly wish Rowling had gone the same way: although there is a case for background info like ‘Pottermore’ I think it’s generally unwise to give in to the temptation to write further stories.
On the whole I think this instinct was confirmed by my reading. The story definitely ‘jumps the shark’ in many ways by going back in time to alter outcomes arising from events in HP 4, specifically the death of Cedric Diggory. A time-turner has conveniently survived the Ministry purge and falls into the hands of two newcomers to Hogwarts; Albus (second son of Harry and Ginny) and Scorpius, son of Draco Malfoy. The friendship between these two is the most authentic part of HPCC; sons of enemies who both end up in Slytherin, their relationship is touching and feels genuinely updated. There’s tons of irony here; the fact that Albus is cursed by his father’s legacy; the fact that he ends up in Slytherin house, and the fact that he becomes best friend of his father’s bete noire. But whilst the boys are rounded personalities, the same cannot be said of Harry, Ron and Hermione projected into the future; in fact I found all the adult characters flat and uninspiring. That said, this is a play and not a novel and I can well imagine that with thousands spent on special effects and equipment this is a stunning spectacle. But as a read? Nah.
Enough Potter already!