I’ll start with a non-spoiler review, then go into those spoilers that WE MUST DISCUSS. I’ll give you fair warning when I’m switching into spoiler mode!
“Harry, there is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.”
Synopsis from Goodreads: It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
Feelings: I honestly wasn’t sure what I wanted from this story. I was so wrapped up in the excitement of going back to Hogwarts and seeing some old friends again, that I never really thought about the actual plot. I devoured this script. I had to make myself put it down just to prolong the reading experience. But then Part Two happened and I had to finish it in one sitting. The first half of this story is interesting. There’s a lot of action and movement, some funny quips and surprises, as well as what feels like redemption. Then in the second half, the emotion arrives. I cried multiple times, more from nostalgia than anything else. As soon as I closed this book, having finished the entire thing, all I felt was love. I thought this story was a blast and I enjoyed every second of it. Then after a day or so, I really started thinking about the plot…and a lot of elements didn’t make sense to me. I’d love to see this on the stage. I think a lot of things would make more sense if I could see them happening in front of me.
This is my spoiler-free section, so I’ll just leave you with this – if you grew up with Harry and the gang like I did, then read this book. Just going back to Hogwarts is worth it; seeing all the characters I love again was worth it. If I rate this purely on emotion, I’d give it 4.5 stars. If I approach it logically, as a book in a series, it gets more like 4 stars. Even that is generous, I think.
*Enter the spoiler-riddled section at your own risk!*
Issues: The most obvious WTF moment from this story was the whole Voldemort having a child thing. WHAT? The dude spent years trying to gain immortality…he didn’t need an heir! He didn’t need a child. And Bellatrix? As a MOTHER? Where the crap did that come from? This element of the story just made zero sense, honestly. Voldemort had no need for a child, In fact, a child/heir could eventually challenge his dark reign. And the timing is weird. This means that Bellatrix was pregnant between books 6 and 7…how did she manage that?
I thought the time-turner element was great. They were randomly thrown in during book 3, then were never mentioned again. Time travel is a big deal, even in a magical world, so why did they not pop up again later on in the series? The only issue I had with this element was how they worked. In book 3, Hermione had to wrap the chain around both her and Harry’s heads in order for them to travel together, but in this story they just had to touch it? Continuity, people.
When Albus, Scorpius, and Delphi used polyjuice potion to disguise themselves as Harry, Ron, and Hermione I just KNEW they’d get caught. I mean, our friends managed to narrowly pull that off in book 7, so when the signs popped up that something was off, I figured Hemione (AKA the BRIGHEST WITCH OF HER AGE) would pick up on it. She didn’t. Also, how did Delphi randomly have a store of polyjuice potion on her? As we all know from book 2, it takes a month to brew. It’s not something people just have on hand, unless you’re pretending to be Mad-Eye Moody.
Ron. Poor, poor Ron. Just like in the movies, he’s the sidekick once again. Hermione is the brains, Harry is the chosen one, and Ron is…just present and accounted for. In this script, he’s the “I’m gonna get on stage because everyone else is” guy. And the idea that Hemione’s rise to Minister of Magic depended on her marriage to Ron? Granted, maybe it was because he took on a lot of responsibility at home and encouraged and supported her? As long-time readers, some of us wondered whether Hermione and Ron were ever really meant to be together. What I DID like about this book, is that in each reality, they wanted to be together, even if they weren’t willing to admit it at first. That felt like closure to me.
What made this story feel like fan fiction was when we went back to try and save Cedric. CEDRIC. I was like WHAT THE YES THIS IS LIKE A DREAM COME TRUE. Then it all hit the freaking fan. In what possible alternate timeline could Cedric Diggory be a DEATH EATER and KILL NEVILLE?? That would never happen! At least, now I’m questioning everything because I never would have imagined that happening.
Ok, some positive things: SCORPIUS. What a fantastic character. I thought he was so funny and loyal and brave. And I love that he’s a Malfoy, bringing some redemption to his dark family name. I love that Albus was a Slytherin and that his best friend was a Malfoy. I love that Draco and Harry finally have some kind of friendship budding. I’ve been waiting for that. I love that Harry and Hermione have had such successes in their adult lives. I love that they’re all still close to Professor McGonagall, who is my inspiration in all things. I thought that it was so powerful that they all witnessed the deaths of James and Lily Potter, seeing the sacrifice and the love in that moment. I love that the gang had very real struggles, humanizing them. I love that the Battle of Hogwarts depended on Neville, in the end. Sweet, sweet Neville.
Final thoughts: I’m glad that I read this. I”m glad that I got to spend some time getting to know the children of my old friends. To me, the joy of this story isn’t Harry and the gang. It’s about this new generation who are their own people, who break out of the ties of their family names. I had a lot of fun reading this and honestly, I’ll probably read it again soon.
Goodreads rating: 4.05/5
Amazon.com rating: 3.3/5
My rating: 4/5 (…which feels generous…)
Happy reading! – Caitlyn