cover image Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts 1 and 2

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts 1 and 2

J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne. Scholastic/Levine, $29.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-338-09913-3

It's been nine years since readers left Harry, Ron, and Hermione on Platform 9 3/4, as the characters were ushering their own children onto the Hogwarts Express. That scene, which appeared in the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, opens this new stage play, now playing to sold-out audiences in London. The script, in book form, will completely undermine the show's hashtag campaign to #KeepTheSecrets, but for Potter fans who can't see the production, this is a welcome substitution. Reading this play--more than 300 pages of dialogue and a few scant instructions for the actors--is, of course, an entirely different experience. The fact that so many of the children are named for key figures from the novels (Albus, James, Lily) and that some of the cast's 42 characters occasionally transform into others demands careful attention to who's talking. Fortunately, most of the characters are familiar, and many of the plot elements turn on memorable events from the novels--the Triwizard Tournament from Goblet of Fire chief among them. A time-turner, last seen in Prisoner of Azkaban, plays a key (if hokey) role, used as a sort of resurrection stone to return favorite characters to life. Stage directions only hint at what an extraordinary challenge it must have been to produce the many special effects that are required--some enchanting, some terrifying--and the bare-bones nature of a script doesn't adequately convey what must be a devastating moment for many in the audience near the conclusion of Part Two. Ironically, after having all the secrets spoiled, what many readers will likely want most is to see the play. Ages 8-up. (July)