Who would ever have guessed that Harry Potter’s son would be intrepid, do foolhardy things that went directly against the orders of his family, and would find out he was much braver and more resourceful than anyone, including himself, would ever have guessed? Well, pretty much every Potterhead in the entire known universe. That his best friend is Draco Malfoy’s son—that is somewhat of a surprise.

It all takes place in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a play by Jack Thorne based on a short story by the legendary creator of the world of Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling, along with John Tiffany and Jack Thorne. The play literally starts where the last Potter book ends, with Harry and Ginny’s son Albus Severus Potter, named after the two biggest men in Harry’s life, Dumbledore and Snape, worrying about more than being sorted into Slytherin. To no one’s surprise, being the son of the great Harry Potter is a bit of pressure for a young boy. Within five minutes of boarding the Hogwarts Express, Albus meets up with the only other boy going to Hogwarts with more family issues than he has—Scorpius Malfoy. Apparently, rumors are running rampant that Scorpius’ real father isn’t Draco, but you know who. You know? He who shall not be named? The Dark Lord? Tom Riddle? If you didn’t get it from all those hints that I’m talking about Lord Voldemort, you definitely shouldn’t read this book.

And that goes for the whole story. This will make no sense whatever to anyone who isn’t well versed in the Potter mythology. It’s all built on the original stories and pretty much the whole thing is written with the assumption that all readers are familiar with it down to the last detail. And that makes sense. I can’t imagine anyone picking this up who hasn’t read all the books or at least seen the movies.

Probably the most emblematic character in the entire script is Albus Dumbledore. As you know if you’re a fan, all Hogwarts headmasters, after they die, are portrayed in paintings that are basically light versions of the originals. They have the same emotional responses as those they’re portraying, but they are essentially pale ghosts of them. They’re not all there. And that’s kind of how I felt about this book. It really seemed like the writers looked at this as a chance to finish the seventh book in a slightly more satisfying way rather than to tell a fully realized story unto itself. We find out which house Albus gets sorted into (I won’t spoil it for you.) and we get to hear Dumbledore (or at least the portrait version of him) admit tearfully that he handled the whole situation with Harry all wrong. And most of all, the one character we were rooting for to make a complete turnaround, Draco, finally gets to become a good guy. So all the threads that were kind of left dangling at the end of Deathly Hallows are neatly tied up.

Yes, there is another storyline, and to be fair, it is a fairly interesting one. It involves an attempt to go back in time to save Cedric Diggory and a completely new character named Delphi who just might be Albus’ love interest. Or not. I won’t say more. The attempts have drastic timeline-altering effects on a par with something out of an X-Men movie. This is the most entertaining part of the story by far because there is an awful lot of time spent with people contemplating their navels and trying to decide their place in the world and arguing about whether everything bad that ever happened is their fault. So in that way, it really is, and let’s be honest here, an awful lot like the original seven books. I loved them as much as everyone else, but can’t we all admit there was an awful lot of pre-teen and teen angst going on there? And so, in that way, this story does carry the torch pretty well.

All this being said, I know that even if I told you this was the biggest pile of donkey dung I’d ever had the displeasure of witnessing, it wouldn’t stop any Potter fan from reading it. I mean, it’s Harry Potter, right? Happily, it’s not any kind of dung. It’s a quick, light image of the stories that made up that beloved series. So yes, it’s a must for all fans of “the boy who lived” and all of his pals.

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