"Come now my child, if we were planning to harm you, do you think we'd be lurking here beside the path in the very darkest part of the forest..." - Kenneth Patchen, "Even So."

THIS IS A BLOG ABOUT STORIES AND STORYTELLING; some are true, some are false, and some are a matter of perspective. Herein the brave traveller shall find dark musings on horror, explorations of the occult, and wild flights of fantasy.

Monday, August 1, 2016


LEAVE IT TO J.K. ROWLING to come up with the only thing worse than being an orphan fated to confront the most terrible dark wizard of all time...being the son of the man who saved the world from Voldemort.

Albus Potter is not the wizard wunderkind his father was.  He is not terribly good at spells, he is lousy at Quidditch, and he is the only Potter sorted into Slytherin rather than Gryffindor.  From his first day at Hogwart's forward, everyone is clucking their tongues about how disappointing he must be to his father.  Even his cousin Rose--Hermione and Ron's daughter--turns her back on her childhood friend.  The only companion he has is another "cursed child," Scorpius Malfoy, the son of Harry's old rival Draco.  Scorpius has his own baggage, not the least of which are dark whispers that his father was really Lord Voldemort.  These two social outcasts from the teen wizarding world form a bond, and a wild plan, to right certain wrongs and redeem themselves in the eyes of their families and peers.   

I will not be spoiling the plot here, but Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was not at all what I expected.  Then again, maybe it was.  It is trademark J.K. Rowling in the way it uses the utterly fantastic to showcase real human feelings of frustration and pain, to shine a spotlight on the uncertainties of adolescence in the middle of a wild adventure tale.  At the same time, it seems even more grounded in reality than the seven novel saga that spawned it.  Yes, there are still puzzles to solve and spells to cast, but instead of the classic Arthurian myth of the boy hero raised in obscurity and destined to save the kingdom, we have two boys who want nothing more than to be accepted.  And Harry, now a middle-aged father, has never seemed less magical.  True, he is the Boy Who Lived, but he is now the Man Who Grew Up Without a Father and Has No Idea How to be One Himself.  He tries very hard but fumbles, at one point shockingly, setting the entire plot in motion.  

John Tiffany and Jack Thorne's script (based on a story by Rowling) brings back many of the characters from the novels, now all grown up.  Hermione Granger (who kept her maiden name when she married Ron) is the Minister of Magic and Harry's boss (he's the Head of Magical Law Enforcement).  They have problems of their own.  Defeating Voldemort did not necessarily mean an end to the Death Eaters.  In a way these two characters seem scarred by their childhoods, still obsessed with the only thing they seem to know how to do (fight Voldemort).  Ron seems to have escaped, inheriting Weasley's Wizard Wheezes and making a living producing novelty magical items, but there seems something sad even about this.  The story doesn't romanticise; amazing kids have grown up to be fairly normal adults.  Even old Draco seems powerless and diminished, unable to save his beloved wife from terminal illness.  Their pasts and obsessions inevitably haunt and complicate the lives of their children, leading to a tale in which Harry's latest case entangles Albus and Scorpius up in it.

This is about all I can really say.  The reader needs to be prepared for the fact that this is a play script, a collection of dialogue and stage directions.  It doesn't read or unfold the way the novels do.  The reader also needs to be prepared for what is the most adult Harry Potter fable.  Just as the books grew up with their protagonist, from the "aw shucks" wonder of Philosopher's Stone to the grim angsty confrontation with life and death in Deadly Hallows, Cursed Child is about middle age, about being caught between your own childhood and the childhood you have given your offspring.  It's heart-tugging, uplifting, and occasionally disappointing, just like you expect parenthood and adulthood to be.  

Three out of Five stars.