This time a week ago I was dressed as Dobby the House Elf ready to celebrate Harry Potter’s birthday. Who would have thought when author J.K.Rowling put pen to paper and started to explore the concept of a wizarding world that she would have created a cultural phenomenon that would touch men, women and children across the globe and have me (aged 33) dressed up as an elf? I remember my first encounter with the Harry Potter series vividly; my younger sister was reading Goblet Of Fire during our family holiday and spent most of the time trying to get me to embrace the world of this children’s character like she had. A few months later, on my way to University for the first time, she gave me her collection of books and told me to ‘just read’; suffice to say I spent the first few months of my higher education with my nose in a book – but not the type of book that was on the curriculum. From practically the first page of The Philosopher’s Stone, I was hooked; the story was such a refreshing escape from my usual literature, providing me with an excuse to let my imagination flow like it hadn’t done since childhood. I read and I read and I read; when the new books were released I was first in line and when the corresponding films hit cinemas I was there as close to release day as I was physically able to manage. Like millions of others across the globe, Harry Potter and his wizarding world captured my imagination and enabled a sense of happiness that has yet to be overtaken by any other form of the written word. It really was magic.
Over the last fifteen years Harry’s stories have played such an important part in my life and the relationships with my loved ones that they’re so much more than books. When I read the last line on the last page of the last book, I found it hard to come to terms with the fact that this was the end. But didn’t we all know it wasn’t really? No matter what Jo told us, we all knew that she couldn’t let go of Harry and Hogwarts any more than we could; it was only a matter of time before she put pen to paper again and explored what would have happened Nineteen Years Later. And I’m so glad she did. A week ago the long anticipated script of Harry Potter & The Cursed Child was released into bookshops globally, causing the excitement we last saw with the launch of Deathly Hallows to explode once again. I have to admit I was a little nervous when I opened the first page of my freshly printed book: Would it be as good as I anticipated? Would it live up to our expectations and successfully build upon the much loved franchise, or (like Sex & The City 2) would it ruin the original by being one step too far? Well I needn’t have worried, because it was everything I dreamed of and more.
Told through the eyes of Harry and his young son Albus, The Cursed Child revisits Hogwarts and some of our favourite characters in a way that stays true to the original seven part story. What I loved most about this incarnation is the fact it touches on the elements I loved so much along the way – and by the beauty of magic, anything is possible. Rather refreshingly, J.K.Rowling illustrates that even The Boy Who Lived can find parenting problematic – and that no matter who your father is, you can still hate him. Some of our favourite moments are revisited through the eyes of a younger generation (boarding the Hogwarts Express for the first time, the sorting ceremony, Quidditch and being told off by Professor McGonagall among many others,) while my favourite two storylines come clashing together with double the excitement than they had the first time round. (I’m talking the TimeTurner and Triwizard Tournament.) There are unexpected friendships (namely between the Potter-Draco offspring,) visits from characters we thought lost (no names, no spoilers!) and even high drama escapes from trains that wouldn’t be out of place in a Bond movie. The Cursed Child has it all.
At so many points through the book I found myself gasping out loud and wanting to tell those around me what was going on, but I refrained as I know the beauty is in not knowing. The eighth story is a complete page turner, so much so that I turned all 200+ pages within 24 hours, so I can only imagine the magic the live stage show creates every single night. If you’ve been wondering whether to jump into Hogwarts again, or leave your memories in tact, then I can thoroughly recommend The Cursed Child as a way to extend and build upon our collective love for Harry rather than damaging it. If you’ve yet to finish the book, I can only request you speed up so as to avoid any spoilers – because the beauty is in the surprise and shock you feel at certain moments throughout the tale. Even if you’ve only ever watched the movies and have never dived into the words of J.K.Rowling, take this as an opportunity to snuggle up with a cup of tea and a book that will leave you smiling from ear to ear. Let the Wizarding World welcome you home once again.
“The stories we love best do live in us forever, so whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
J. K. Rowling
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