[Ed. Note: While no major spoilers are discussed, there are some minor plot details that could be considered spoilers.]
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the latest installment in the beloved series, released this weekend, and though its unusual format is turning off some readers, reviews are rounding out to be mostly positive.
Cursed Child is not a novel, but a script taken from the Broadway show, which began this weekend, as well. Instead of Rowling’s typical descriptive narration throughout, the book is entirely dialogue, putting the responsibility of setting up the mood and magical mystique entirely on the shoulders of the characters themselves.
Despite the unusual approach, USA Today gave Cursed Child a fairly positive review and said that fans of the series would probably still find something to love here.
“And while reading the script (three out of four stars) is an incomplete experience — noticeably lacking the richness that acting and staging would add to a realized production and the familiar Rowling prose a novel would have contained — it may capture just enough of the old Potter magic to please even the most skeptical of fans.”
Cursed Child reviews across the internet, while not gushing or glowing, seem to echo USA Today‘s sentiments, with many noting that it’s not necessarily the same experience they had reading the original books in the series, but that as Potter fans, they can’t put it down.
“Reading 300 pages of dialogue is not the same immersive experience as settling into one of Rowling’s massive tomes, but for fans of the series? It’s a must.”
But it’s not just professional critics weighing in, even at this early stage. Toby L’Estrange, 10, finished Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in 59 minutes, and scored it 6/10. His main criticism was that the book is a script, lacking the traditional context Rowling typically embeds in her books. He also noted that it was “weird” that the characters from the original books are grown up, and that it focuses on both the grownups and the new characters, ultimately leaving him confused at times.
“Firstly it’s the script for a play, so it’s quite different from reading a novel. The whole story is told through what the characters say to each other – plus some stage directions. But once you get over that, you read it just the same as the others – except the play is in two parts, so the book is too.
“Secondly Harry and the others are grown ups which is a bit weird. And they’ve got children. So the story is a mixture of grown ups we sort of know, plus children we don’t know, in Hogwarts which we know well (but now Neville Longbottom is a professor of herbology at the school – Hagrid’s still there – and the head is now Prof McGonagall.”
It’s difficult to get an accurate idea of what the early Cursed Child reviews by fans actually mean. Are they enjoying the book, hating it, or just mad that it’s a script?
Amazon.com is showing a 3.5/5 star rating currently, but again, many of those reviews came before the book was released or are simply people venting that it’s not in the format they wanted.
With Harry Potter and the Cursed Child reviews trickling in, one thing is clear: Though it may contain familiar characters and storylines, this is not your typical Harry Potter book.
[Photo by Rob Stothard/Getty Images]