If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you probably did not miss the release of the eight instalment of the series just this past Sunday. The book is already touted to be the best-selling book of 2016 and that’s just based on pre-orders alone. And if you’re like me, you’ve probably finished reading the book in one sitting.
But is the hype really all that it’s cracked up to be? Here are ten spoiler-free things that might help you decide if you should grab a copy for yourself (but really, do you even need a reason to read another Harry Potter book?).
1. This is not an ordinary Harry Potter book.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is in effect a play that premiered on 30 July in London’s Palace Theatre, a night before the release of the book. And the book is actually a script of said play. Which means, that this is the first Harry Potter book that is written purely in conversation with stage descriptions peppered here and there.
2. Don’t expect details.
Because it’s essentially a script, there are little to no descriptions of characters or settings. When they do appear, they are brief and vague but enough to create your own visualisation of the characters or scenes. This might pose a problem for new readers or those who have lost touch with the franchise since the last movie in 2011. If you’ve read through every single book and familiar with how the characters look like in the movies, this is not an issue.
From left: Anthony Boyle as Scorpius Malfoy, Sam Clemmett as Albus Potter
3. The focus is on the juniors.
While Harry and his usual band don’t really take a backseat in this instalment, the focus is definitely on their children – specifically Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy (the icy-blonde Draco Malfoy’s only heir).
4. Some of the kids get left out.
Don’t expect any significant presence of some of the other children though. Somewhere past the first act, you’ll eventually forget that some of them even exist. In fact, some (like Teddy Lupin, the orphan of Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks) are not mentioned at all.
5. Fan-favourites return.
The Cursed Child dabbles into the existence of different realities (an integral aspect that was introduced in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban). In other words, everyone makes an appearance in some form or another. Yes, even the ones you can’t help but hate.
6. It gets confusing.
Because of the way it’s written, figuring out which timeline or reality the story is at might be confusing initially. And just like any other time-travel arcs, it does get blurry on what happened where and when as well as what caused what.
7. The book is split into two parts that are further split into two.
The Cursed Child, just like the play, is split into two parts. If you’re heading to London with the intention of catching the play, the shows are either scheduled in such a way that the first part is a matinee while the second shows in the evening of the same day or two evening shows of different parts. Each part comes with two acts so typically there’s a cliffhanger at the end of each act.
8. The scene changes are sometimes abrupt.
This is more of an issue with how the stage changes and effects are able to shift realistically from one scene to another onstage as described in the book. Reading the book, there seem to be visually-stunning and quite impossible stage effects that transport characters from one location to another. But then again, one should never underestimate the magic of the theatre. If anything, the stage descriptions serve as added reasons to watch the story unfold onstage; a brilliant advertising tool.
From left: Jamie Parker as Harry Potter, Sam Clemmett as Albus Potter
9. There are deaths, emotional struggles and drama.
As with any Harry Potter story, if you’ve ever read one. There is an especially interesting dynamic that plays out between Harry, a father who has never had the experience of having his own father to mould himself after, and Albus, the son who is expected to live up to being a child of The Boy Who Lived. In other words, daddy issues.
10. This is definitely the last Harry Potter story.
Or so J.K. Rowling says. And we all know that’s what she said about book seven too. As of yet, there have been no plans of making The Cursed Child into a movie but we can never truly rule that out. With the response that the book is having so far and the fact that tickets for the play are mostly sold out through 2017, a film adaptation is not farfetched. Rowling does give some comfort to loyal fans though – November’s film release of Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is part of a trilogy.