Harry Potter and The Cursed Child – Parts 1 & 2 – Jack Thorne, J.K. Rowling, and John Tiffany

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Source: Goodreads

Albus Severus Potter has just started at Hogwarts and is really feeling the length of Harry Potter’s shadow. Faced with never living up to his father’s legacy, he ignores his cousin’s advice and befriends Scorpius Malfoy, around whom many rumors swirl.

Harry James Potter, 19 years after the battle of Hogwarts, is still adjusting to his job at the Ministry of Magic, and learning through trial and error how to be a good father to James, Albus, and Lily when he has few father figures to look up to.

After much magical mayhem, it is up to our heroes to return the world to rights and hopefully live to see another day.

From the beginning, I was extremely scared to read this book. I know J.K. Rowling helped idealize the original story, and was on hand to keep things from getting crazy, but this play was not really built by Jo, and therefore, I was scared. It happens. I actually made my brother read it when I first got it just so I could make sure it wouldn’t ruin my life forever. He read it in two days and assured me I wasn’t walking into a trap. So I read it, even though I felt as if I was going to have a heart attack just thinking about it. I just want you to know, I was wrong, and it’s great. But let me start at the beginning.

It’s been a long journey here. I just finished rereading the original seven books for the first time since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out in 2007. It was rough, and I relived all of the deaths and the hopes and dreams of the millions of people who’ve read and loved this series. When I closed the last book, I picked up this one almost immediately. I’ve had it on standby since it came out.

The first act was rough. Extremely rough. It picks up at the same place the epilogue to Deathly Hallows does, but it changes some of the wording, which rather annoyed me. Beyond that, in the first act, no one felt like themselves. It was all a bit uncomfortable, as if new people were stepping into the skins of our beloved characters and had to stretch them out to make them fit more comfortably. Thankfully everyone became much more themselves in the following three acts. A bit of warning, though, don’t stop reading at the end of the first act. I was actually so pissed off at what was happening that I put the book down for nearly a MONTH, and I almost didn’t pick it back up again. But I am so glad that I did.

Act two was much better, and everyone started acting normally again. Huzzah! I started to see where the storyline was going, and everything became significantly less cringe-worthy. Also, the cliffhanger is pretty marvelous. I did not expect this play to get that colorful, but this…this is some great stuff right here. And the fact that Part One ends there, and if you didn’t buy tickets for Part Two you are just screwed is just bloody brilliant on Jack’s part. (Can I get a round of applause for Jack Thorne please?)

Act three. We pick up a few days after the end of act two, and it’s still pretty awesome. The plot twists! SO FREAKING AMAZING. Somehow, I did not see it coming. I’m an idiot sometimes. I had to stop at the end of act three because I was babysitting and the baby woke up, but I was dying to read act four.

Seriously, act four was super action packed, and super heartfelt, and just ALL OF THE FEELINGS. So, SO good. Did I mention how glad I am that I picked this up again? I was so beyond worried that everyone was going to stay wonky that I didn’t want to finish it and then they all went and became awesome and saved the world again. However, I’m still not 100% sure who the cursed child is supposed to be, nor do I completely understand how the cover art plays into the storyline. But who cares, it’s magical and intriguing and exactly what I should have expected from J.K. Rowling. I am sorry I ever doubted you, Joanne. It won’t happen again.

If act one hadn’t been so weird, I would probably give this book 4 stars, but alas, act one kind of, well, it sucked. The other three acts more than make up for it, though, so I tried not to penalize it too badly. Also, and I understand it would have been way too much work to include them all, but I really missed many of my favorite secondary characters, and I wanted to know more about Ginny’s life outside of being a wife and mother. So, no five stars for you. Sorry.

HHC Rating: 3 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Book #2 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Book #3 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Book #4 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Book #5 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Book #6 – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Book #7 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Fantastic Beasts #1 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7) – J.K. Rowling

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Source: Goodreads

Harry James Potter is about to turn 17. He’ll finally be a full-fledged wizard, legally allowed to cast spells outside of school. He’s also leaving home for the last time. The magic that protects him at the Dursley’s ends the night of his birthday, and he’ll be free game for any dark wizards who wish him harm. With a whole list of things to do before he can even attempt to face-off with Lord Voldemort and stand a chance of surviving, Harry will make some of the toughest choices of his life.

This book. THIS BOOK. Oh my goodness. When I first read it (9 years ago) in 2007, it was July, and I had just finished my freshman year of high school. We always pre-ordered the Harry Potter books because if you didn’t it was sold out for like a month, and by then everyone had already told you what had happened. So, on the morning of July 21st (or it might even have been the 20th. They sometimes delivered a day early back then because there were just too many copies that had to be shipped out.) it just happened that no one was around except me when the UPS man arrived. I took the package and sprinted up to my room, where I closed the door, tore the book out of the box and immediately started reading. I didn’t even bother telling anyone it had come, because when the previous book arrived my mom and brother had started trading it back and forth to read it, and I had had to wait through an entire agonizing week of listening to them talk about it before I was allowed to read it. Their reasoning was that I read too slowly. So this was a combination of excitement, straight up selfishness, and maybe even a wish for revenge.

I hid the book under my pillows whenever anyone came into my room (thank goodness they always knocked so I had time to hide it), and I only left to use the bathroom or attend meals. It was summer. I didn’t have responsibilities. In the end, it took me about 36 hours to read the entire 759-page novel, and I don’t think I slept more than 3-4 hours. It was worth it. Not just because I loved the book, but also because the look on my brother’s face when I knocked on his bedroom door and handed him the book whilst saying, “Here you go, I just finished it.” when he didn’t even know it had arrived yet was PRICELESS.

Of course, I’ll have to argue about whether I read the whole book in 36 hours or not for the entire rest of my life, but who cares. I know I  did it, and that’s all that matters. And they thought I read too slowly. HA!

So, clearly, you can see how much I love this series. The first book came out in 1998 in the U.S.A., when I was just 6 years old, and my mom read them to us the next year, so we read books 1 & 2 back-to-back before eagerly awaiting the publication of book 3. For all intents and purposes, I learned to read with the Harry Potter books. Those 10 years of my life were incredibly magical because of them, and don’t even get me started on going to see the films. I was that child that immediately poked holes in all of the book/film differences the second we left the theater, to the point where my family banned me from speaking for the entire rest of the day after we saw the last three movies. I’m a pretty diehard fan.

Rereading this series has been pretty magical, too. There’s nothing like reading it for the first time, not knowing what’s coming, but reading it a second time is pretty amazingly wonderful also. I really appreciate all of the secondary characters a lot more now. Everyone is human to me, even Hannah Abbot who we hear about a total of maybe three times in the whole series. When I first read the books, and the films came out, I desperately wanted to be Hermione. To the point where I wanted to hate Emma Watson for getting the part, even though I was only 8 when the casting happened and was too young (and not anywhere near British enough) to try out. Hermione was smart, she was pretty (but not too pretty), and she had great friends. During my reread, though, I found that I identified a lot less with Hermione, and a lot more with Ginny. She’s quiet, she’s fierce, she’s determined, and yet she can still be silly in love sometimes, like when she sent Harry the singing valentine in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Her peaceful courage and undying loyalty are two of my favorite things about her, and I identify so hard with that. I’m even considering dying my hair red, though not exclusively because of my admiration for Ginevra Molly Weasley. I’ve been thinking about it a lot longer than I’ve been rereading the series.

Still, reading the first 300 pages of this book was agony. And trying to stop reading it is like wearing a Horcurx, or asking a dementor to please follow you around every second of the day while you wait to find out the fates of your favorite characters. It feels like there’s not a whole lot going on, and in the movie it doesn’t look like there’s a whole lot happening, but it is. Inside of you, the reader, and inside the characters. Everyone is rising to the challenge, marking off their to-do lists and gearing up for war. All 759 pages are needed because that’s how long it takes for you to be ready to fight the ultimate evil that is Lord Voldemort. That’s how long it takes for your courage to rise to the top, to stamp down your fears, and face the true evil head-on. And after countless deaths that you can still feel, echoing through the years, you are finally prepared for your destiny.

“That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend. Of house-elves and children’s tales, of love, loyalty, and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped.” pgs. 709-710 (US 2007 Edition)

So, yes. This book is wonderful, amazing, magical… everything you hoped and wished the final Harry Potter book would be. It is also heart-tearing, gut-wrenching, and exhaustingly sad, yet somehow we still love to read it.  This book, I am convinced, is why the series is so beloved to this day. Also, I blew off NaNoWriMo for a day in order to read the last 459 pages because I couldn’t take the waiting any longer. It was worth it.

HHC Rating: 5 stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Book #2 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Book #3 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Book #4 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Book #5 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Book #6 – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

The Cursed Child – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Fantastic Beasts #1 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter, #6) – J.K. Rowling

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Source: Goodreads

Strange things are happening, and they are no longer confined to the wizarding world. Bridges less than 10 years old collapsing in the middle of rush hour, hurricanes that never appeared on the forecast tearing apart communities, gruesome, grisly murders. Amidst all of the chaos, Harry Potter is headed back to Hogwarts for his sixth year. With stories about a prophecy concerning Harry and his parents’ killer circulating the school, Harry has a lot to prove. Newly reinstated to the Gryffindor Quidditch team, he would love nothing more than to have a normal year; but with every overheard conversation, every accident, and every potion he brews, Harry knows that this school year will be anything but normal.

After all the whining that goes on in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, this book is like a gasp of fresh air. It moves through the story well, character communication is good, Harry stops doing stupid shit stuff. Sure, there’s a lot of dating/ feeeeeelings going on, but rather than allow them to slosh all over the work of pure art that is this plot, Rowling offers these romances as a tasty side, occasionally even a foil to the storyline.

I must say, I love the fact that we don’t get to Harry until chapter three. And the way the secondary character storylines are woven in, Bill, Fleur, Tonks, Lupin, Malfoy, Snape, Dumbledore, Slughorn, Hagrid, Dobby, Kreacher, etc… I could go on all day. It is ruddy perfect is what it is. Even Percy the prat.

Like the fifth book, everyone grows so much. The character development is off the charts. Maturity shows itself in everything they do, and everyone gets there at their own pace. Every character is such an individual that it often occurs to me when I’m reading these books that J.K. rowling must have had some magical help because it’s just too amazing for words.

It would be too easy to spoil this book by attempting to talk about any particular scenes, so I will leave with a quote:

“He will only be gone from the school when none here are loyal to him,” said Harry, smiling in spite of himself.

Obviously, this is a big favorite and I highly recommend it. I’m sincerely upset that I only have one book left to read, and I am so thankful that I get to read Harry Potter and The Cursed Child right after it, but then, once again, I’ll be at the end.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Book #2 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Book #3 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Book #4 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Book #5 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Book #7 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The Cursed Child – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Fantastic Beasts #1 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5) – J.K. Rowling

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Source: Goodreads

Frustrated and lonely, Harry is stuck at number four, Privet Drive, for yet another summer. Making matters worse is the lack of news from the wizarding community. The Ministry of Magic and The Daily Prophet are refusing to allow the truth to be printed, the magical world is completely in the dark. Worst of all, Harry faces potential expulsion even before the school year begins. With the Dark Lord back on the loose and a scary new Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher watching their every move, it might just be time for the students of Hogwarts to take their futures into their own hands.

This fifth story in the Harry Potter series is a tough one to get through. At 870 pages, it’s the longest book, and the first 100-150 pages move as slow as molasses. Even worse, just about every character (except Hermione, who accomplished this feat in book four without much fuss) hits puberty. Harry becomes whiny, Ron sulks a lot, and Ginny starts dating. Of course, all of the adults continue to treat them like children and hoard information from them, with naturally disastrous consequences.

On the bright side, this book introduces what I like to call the silver trio. Much like Harry, Ron, and Hermione are often referred to as the golden trio, Ginny, Neville, and Luna quickly spring to mind as a second grouping, which I like to call the silver trio. Ginny finally becomes a real person in this book, as does Neville and many of the other secondary characters. Luna  Lovegood, aside from a brief mention of her family near the start of the fourth book, is really introduced here.  Luna, in a way that only Luna could possibly do, quickly becomes near-central to the main storyline. It always surprises me how seamlessly J.K. Rowling weaves Luna into the story, with her odd habits and strong opinions. Luna, so shamelessly herself, is easily one of my favorite characters of the books, and we don’t even meet her until more than halfway through the series!

While it is widely acknowledged that this book is really too long to be its best, it is difficult to find things that could be cut out. The only possibilities would be the cleaning scenes and the emotional roller coaster that is Harry’s thoughts in this book. However since these things really make up most of the story and establish multiple relationships that are important later on, they really have to be left in.

The new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher is a nightmare. I actually had a teacher in highschool who closely resembled her in not just looks, and we subsequently warned anyone who would listen about “Umbridge”. I actually had an underclassman insist that I was wrong for an entire year because they were convinced another teacher should have the title. The next year they had a class with the real “Umbridge” and promptly apologized for doubting me. I am aggressively not sorry we gave her that nickname.

Personal stories aside, this book, although seriously massive and slow except for the last 100 pages, was pretty great. The character development is so on point it’s almost painful (because puberty). Everyone becomes so much more complex in this book and it’s wonderful. Definitely recommend.

HHC Rating: 4 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Book #2 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Book #3 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Book #4 – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Book #6 – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Book #7 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The Cursed Child – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Fantastic Beasts #1 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter, #4) – J.K. Rowling

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Source: Goodreads

Fourteen-year-old Harry Potter is ready for his fourth year at Hogwarts; preferably a quiet one where nothing goes wrong and no monsters try to attack the students. Unfortunately, this is Harry’s life we’re talking about, and things are never easy or simple where Harry is concerned. After a terror-filled night at the Quidditch World Cup, Harry finds himself thrown into hot water again as students arrive from other European wizarding schools to compete in a time-honored traditional trial by magic. Harry will need all of the help he can get to survive the challenges that face him in the coming year, but will it be enough?

This fourth book in J.K. Rowling’s best-selling series is a marked turning point from Juvenal Fiction to YA. The tone of the book becomes darker as Harry’s life becomes more dangerous, and all of the characters begin to hit the dreaded puberty.

I absolutely love how the characters were developed in this book. There were so many new people to introduce and examine because of the visiting schools, and we gain a much better picture of the overall state of the global wizarding community. It’s no surprise that at over 700 pages this is one of the longest books in the series. It’s a whopper of a book to be sure, but it reads very quickly. Rowling’s writing is so compelling that it is extremely hard to put the book down. I ended up finishing the last 300 pages in one sitting. Whoops. What is sleep, anyhow?

There is just so much about this book that I love, not the least of which is Hermione coming out of her shell and becoming a much bigger character. Ron kind of takes a back seat in this one as he spends much of the story grouchy and jealous of various people and happenings.

Hermione though, Hermione shines in this book. She’s in her element, studying anything and everything to help Harry out with his situation, and mediating between Harry and Ron, and just generally being the voice of reason in an otherwise crazy world.

“You can’t Apparate inside the Hogwarts grounds, how often do I have to tell you?”
~Hermione Granger

But that’s not all. No, this is the book where Hermione finds her passion(s). This is the part of the story when Hermione begins to take note of the world around her. She discovers boys, and she discovers human rights issues (which may sound a tad boring compared to the magical world, but I assure it is NOT), and with a little magic on her side, she finds the confidence to be herself and speak up for what she wants. Best of all, she’s not afraid to tell it like it is (I’m looking at you, Ron), and put people in their place (Also you, Rita Skeeter). It just makes me so happy to see the character of Hermione grow so much in one novel.

Not everything was cake and roses in this book, though. There is a lot of darkness and a lot of plot set-up for the final three books, which of course means a lot more Voldemort. As much as we wish Harry’s path wasn’t headed in that direction, the Dark Lord is a continual evil that plagues our young protagonist.

Overall, this is an amazing read. The first time I read this book, I was 8, and I was moving. To me, it was the darkest thing that had ever happened in my life. I was leaving all of my friends, and in the 90’s/ early 00’s, this basically meant that aside from long-distance calls on the landline or writing snail-mail, I was losing everyone I knew. Having something, like the Harry Potter series, that followed me from house to house and had characters that were going through turmoil like I was was remarkable in itself. The fact that they overcame their problems and made new friends with people from new schools helped me to overcome my fear of never having friends again and ultimately helped me adjust to a new town.

I highly recommend this book to literally everyone. Tissues required.

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

Other reviews in this series:
Book #1 – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Book #2 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Book #3 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Book #5 – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Book #6 – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Book #7 – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The Cursed Child – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Fantastic Beasts #1 – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay