Books, Art, & Visual Culture


Writing and design by Melissa Hill, graphic designer.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling & Jack Thorne


I read the other day that next year is the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter. Do you know how old this makes me feel? I have colleagues who hold JK Rowling as dear in their childhood memories as I do Enid Blyton. The Harry Potter books are the tales of their childhood. And I clearly remember reading them as an adult. Those are potent memories, those beloved childhood books. I’m not young enough to be able to thank Harry Potter for my literary awakening, but I still have warm fuzzy feelings regarding this series. I have the memory of when I first moved out of the family home, sitting in a strange lounge room devoid of furniture, apart from an over-stuffed bean bag, feeling entirely odd to be there alone, with no one else to talk to. But, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows had just come out. So I wasn’t lonely at all.

So, like many others, I welcomed this chance for another glimpse into Harry’s world. I was completely aware of the difference in format and the new creatives involved and was prepared for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to be markedly different to the books we know and love. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I tried not to be too excited.

I wasn’t prepared to be swept away into the wizarding world just as completely as ever before.

Sure, the format is different. It’s a play — of course it’s going to read differently to a novel. I don’t typically read plays, but this didn’t bother me at all. In fact, I think this was the perfect way to give us all one more little visit into Harry-land without encroaching on the previous books. It’s a dip into the world, but the new format means that it’s clearly something else, something of its own.

And it’s not really about Harry at all. It’s about closure and passing on the baton.

I found the story as engaging as ever, in the same can’t-put-it-down way. Although I was a bit disappointed with the portrayal of Ron, who felt reduced to simply a vehicle for dopey comedic lines.

I think Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is an interesting exploration of ‘what ifs’. It’s tempting us with the promise of more Harry, but showing us that the way that his story finished up in the Deathly Hallows was just as it should have been. It can’t be revisited or done over because the consequences would be something that can all agree is quite awful.

So yes, it was lovely to catch-up with old friends, to visit a dear place from our past. But now, finally, that’s where Harry’s world must remain. It’s time to grow up.