Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is coming to Toronto next year. So, three years after I initially read and wrote about the so-called eighth book in the Harry Potter series, I decided to pick it up again.
Since initially reading it, I haven’t given Cursed Child much thought. By contrast, I think about the original seven Harry Potter books practically daily. I actually struggle to get through a conversation without mentioning Harry Potter (it’s not my fault the themes are so applicable!) But as for Cursed Child, I sort of pretend it doesn’t exist. I didn’t hate it when I first read it, but it definitely didn’t take hold of me.
What I learned during my re-read is that Cursed Child…bothers me. It bothers me because it seems to break some Harry Potter universe rules, and confuses me about the original series. And no matter how I feel about the play, it is canon, it is Harry Potter history, it is part of my favourite universe to escape to, and that bothers me.
PROCEED WITH CAUTION
I’m still not clear on the time travel thing
We first learn about time travel in the Harry Potter universe in Prisoner of Azkaban. The Time-Turner device is introduced and Hermione and Harry use it to go back in time three hours to save Buckbeak the hippogriff from being executed and free Sirius Black. Rowling made sure to destroy all of the Time-Turners later in the series because it was important that time travel be removed as an option as Voldemort got stronger.
“We smashed the entire stock of Ministry Time-Turners when we were there in the summer. It was in the Daily Prophet”
Hermione – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
I don’t understand why, of all the concepts to bring into an eighth Harry Potter story, anyone would re-open the time travel concept. Time travel is so complicated in any media. How changes in the past can impact the future vary from universe to universe and it can get very confusing very quickly. Before Cursed Child, I always understood that time travel in the Harry Potter universe operated as a sort of loop. What I gleaned from Prisoner of Azkaban was that there is no version of events in which Buckbeak was killed and Sirius caught, Hermione and Harry were always going to be sent back by Dumbledore to rescue them.
So I find it irksome that, not only do we have two secret Time-Turners in this play, (Hermione and Draco are each revealed to be hiding one at different points) but when they are used, the rules of time and changing the past seem to be altered. In Cursed Child, Scorpius and Albus go back decades, not hours. Hermione had to turn her Time-Turner once for every hour, how an earth do they manage to turn a Time-Turner hundreds of thousands of times to go back in time? Does this Time-Turner work differently? And then when they do change the past, their actions impact the future. There are alternate realities in the Harry Potter world. Really? I thought there was only one reality. What does it all mean?
What about the Fidelius Charm?
This one drives me nuts. When Scorpius and Albus are taken back to October 30, 1981, they see Lily leave the house with baby Harry. We know that on that date – the day before they were murdered – Lily and James were in hiding, protected by the Fidelius Charm in which they hid the secret of their location inside Peter Pettigrew, their secret keeper. Lily even says they can’t go out without the Invisibility Cloak in a letter of hers that Harry finds in Deathly Hallows.
James is getting a bit frustrated shut up here, he tries not to show it but I can tell – also, Dumbledore’s got his Invisibility Cloak so no chance of little excursions.
Lily’s letter to Sirius – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Also, WHY CAN EVERYONE IN THE PLAY SEE THE POTTERS’ HOUSE?! You can’t see a house that is protected by the Fidelius Charm unless the secret keeper (in this case Pettigrew) tells you where it is. I guess you could argue that Pettigrew is dead in the present so maybe people who go back in time can see the house, but I feel that’s a stretch. And still doesn’t explain why on earth Lily would leave the house with Harry and without the Invisibility Cloak.
Delphi shouldn’t exist
Delphi says she was born “before the Battle of Hogwarts at Malfoy Manner”. Well obviously – Bellatrix died in the Battle of Hogwarts, but Delphi doesn’t get specific about when exactly she was born.
We see Bellatrix in Malfoy Manner during Draco’s Easter Holiday in Deathly Hallows, and the Battle of Hogwarts would be a month or two later. We also see Bellatrix at the beginning of Deathly Hallows which takes place in July the year before. Neither her pregnancy nor a baby are mentioned at either of these moments. Was Bellatrix heavily pregnant at the Battle of Malfoy Manner? I know fans have speculated that she was and just cast a spell to make herself not look pregnant – but this explanation feels too convenient.
The Harry Potter fandom wiki says that Delphi was born pre-March 1998, so before the battle of Malfoy Manner. This means that Bellatrix was pregnant at the meeting of the Death Eaters in the first chapter of Deathly Hallows, and so there was an infant somewhere in the house during the Battle of Malfoy Manner? Who was taking care of Delphi during the Battle of Hogwarts? ugh. It’s annoying that Delphi’s existence forces us to stare down the original series and force her into it.
Cursed Child does have its moments (I like Scorpius a lot, I like the Harry / Ginny scenes, the last scene between Albus and Harry is cute) but overall, the story annoys me more than it entertains me.
Nonetheless, I intend to spend lots of money to go see it next year. I can’t resist it, I’m not made of stone! I love this universe and this fandom. I will go see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and I will wear my lightning bolt earrings, my Deathly Hallows necklace, my “lumos” graphic tee. I might even bring one of my two wands. The Harry Potter universe and fandom mean so much to me, so I welcome any opportunity to dip my toe back into this magical world.
Anyway, for all of Cursed Child‘s flaws, its one redeeming quality is that it can never take away the original series that forever has my heart.