“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” by JK Rowling and Jack Thorne

4/4.5 stars.

I had very mixed feelings about how to review this. I’m a huge HP fan, and so reading this was of course super-exciting for me, and I did really enjoy it. At the same time, it was clear to me that reading a play script is not the same as reading one of the novels. I’ve heard great things about the play and by reading the script it sounded amazing; however, the script in and of itself, while interesting, was a less fabulous experience than reading the books.

Of particular interest to me as a writer was the fact that the script, by leaving out (as scripts do) all the “slow” stuff that fills up novels, was a less rewarding reading experience. Scripts by their nature can’t have any internal monologue or reflection: everything has to be said out loud, or portrayed by the actors’ physical movements on stage/screen. Scripts also have very minimal descriptions of settings and background, and the action is by necessity compressed. The result is something very spare–I finished the entire thing in a couple of hours–that is more like a sketch than a book. It’s a book in which the author has taken the common command these days to “tighten up your writing” and “cut filler” to its maximum possible expression, and the result is something that is not really a book. All the empty space on the page between is just…empty space on the page, lacking the depth that the novelistic form provides. Which is not to say that this is bad, per se, it just highlighted for me the unique benefits of the novel, which allows for a depth and introspection that other forms do not.

All that being said, Harry Potter fans like me are probably going to enjoy this. Aside from the genre differences, reading it was more like a cruise through a greatest hits album with the occasional original track thrown in than a fully-fledged new book, but a lot of the old magic is still there.

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