I loved the fact that Rowling appealed to her fans to keep her secrets until all us muggles had access to The Cursed Child, and the internet (mostly) complied. I didn’t have to move a finger to avoid spoilers till 2nd August, when my pre-ordered copy reached me. However, once I was done reading, and the many many feels hit me, I turned to the bookternet for pieces on the script, and came up with next to nothing. Even the ones that I did find were tiptoeing their way around the elements of the plot so as to avoid spoilers. Hence, my fellow Rioters Danika Ellis, Rachel Weber, Deya, and I have joined forces to hit you with some of our feelings about all the things that happened, and (hopefully) open up the floodgates for those of you out there who haven’t yet been relieved of your opinions.
Deya: I read the Philosopher’s Stone on a muggy, summer day in Calcutta. It was my cousin’s copy, and I finished it in one sitting. I was eleven and enamoured. I picked up the Cursed Child expecting the same. Needless to say, this did not happen.
Deepali: I stroked its spine, wrote my name on the inside, and spent the first five minutes of reading The Cursed Child in absolute nostalgic bliss. My first clue that the plot was going to be ridiculously implausible was Scorpius declaring, quite nonchalantly, that he knows what the rumours say about him: that his parents couldn’t have children, and that Voldemort is his father… My hands flew up to my mouth and I squeaked. Why would a 12 year-old in the Potterverse say that?
Danika: I was going along with the script, not completely sold, but enjoying the ride, until poor Cedric Diggory’s name got dragged in the mud. I’m sorry, but Cedric would never in any universe become a Death Eater, especially not just because he was thoroughly embarrassed.
Deya: What happened to the feminism that is generally present in HP, is what I wondered throughout! Hermione is there, but only in shades. Ginny seems rather dependent on Harry. I was expecting her to be like Molly Weasley; I was expecting Delphi to be like Bellatrix. The female characters were lukewarm, and the feminism almost completely missing.
Rachel: Can we talk about how, having failed to marry Ron, alternate timeline Hermione turns into a total bitch? God forbid that she meet someone else or even (gasp) still be successful and kind as a single women.
I did love Scorpius, though.
Deepali: Despite the ridiculousness, Scorpius was hilarious. Even though the parts where he’s being funny don’t really scream Rowling—the writing is too loose and casual—his dialogues did make me snicker, and reminded me of Sirius Black.
Here’s something that didn’t make me snicker: that in an alternate reality, Ron and Padma would name their child Panju. We’ve been over this with Rowling’s racist representation of Native Americans in her story about History of Magic in North America, but here we are again. A five-second Google search and/or one Indian person could’ve informed the authors that Panju isn’t an Indian name. It made me flinch and grimace, and a friend who’d already read the book received a text with many curse words right about then.
Rachel: Harry seemed like a bit of a knob, beyond just the adult reality, worn down by life stuff. After all he went through it seems mad to me that he’d fail to empathise with his own son/Scorpius so completely.
Deya: I did not understand the dynamics of Albus and Harry. Why was Albus so irate with Harry? Why was Harry not as compassionate with Albus? Some background around this would have really helped.
While reading the script I realized that the authors were probably trying to depict both Albus (Dumbledore) and (Severus) Snape’s vices and virtues within Albus Severus. And if this was really the case, it was not as convincing as I’d like it to be. Too many things had loose threads.
Danika: I just don’t believe Voldemort would have had a kid. It’s not his style. He wanted immortality in a literal sense, not a metaphorical one. And Bellatrix pregnant? With no one knowing? It just doesn’t seem likely.
Deepali: here’s what I imagine happened:
Danika: Also, I do think it’s a bit of a slight that Albus/Scorpius is so heavily implied, but not actually stated. This was a ship that was popular in the fandom from the epilogue—not surprising, since they’re the sons of Harry and Draco—and to have them pledging their loyalty to each other and then finding convenient minor female characters to have last-minute crushes on feels like a cop out.
Deepali: I see why this would work as a whirlwind of a play, but having it as a printed book in front of me wasn’t the best feeling. After so many years of universe-building, you can’t just tear everything down with a plot riddled with loopholes. You cannot introduce me to Snape, Dumbledore, Cedric, and VOLDEMORT’S DAUGHTER in a span of 2.5 hours and expect me to be fine with it.
Danika: I hope that I’m able to see this as a play, because although the script fell flat for me, I know I’d be swept up seeing it in its intended form, with the actors bringing nuance to the dialogue and the special effects dazzle drawing attention away from any weak points in the plot.
Deya: I liked that this was a light read—the script had its gaps and flaws, but despite my insane work schedule, I finished it in three sittings (a cab ride to work, and during meals at work). It gave me a sense of accomplishment to be able to pick this up and know that I’ll get through this no matter what because it was a Harry Potter book.
Rachel: My hot take? The Cursed Child is a great piece of fan fiction, but that’s it. It’s not canon to me. That Harry, Ron, and Hermione are not my Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
Time travel is cheating.
Favourite line: Draco’s “is that a farmer’s market?”
Deepali: as a last (pedantic) note, did nobody think to give the script a generous smattering of punctuation before it was printed?