Originally published Sept. 4, 2016
I wasn't planning to read J.K. Rowling's new addition to the Harry Potter world quite so soon, but a student offered me the loan of it, and I happily accepted. It provided a nice opportunity to renew my acquaintance of Harry and co., including Draco, and get to know some new characters. True to Rowling's style, it was a fun and engaging read.
The style of it is a screenplay, rather than a book, so it is necessarily missing the immersed feel a novel would offer. Instead of the following...
'Who's there?' [Uncle Vernon] shouted. 'I warn you - I'm armed!'
There was a pause. Then -
The door was hit with such force that it swung clean off its hinges and with a deafening crash landed flat on the floor.
...we get stage directions.
There's a MASSIVE SMASH. And the door falls off its hinges. HAGRID stands in the middle of the doorway. He looks at them all.
It's an adjustment. I miss Rowling's descriptive powers. On the other hand, this new format is a reminder to me of how well Rowling has built her characters. In this new book, we get to see Harry as a forty-year-old father, and he's still Harry, and I still like him. He has learned the same lesson adulthood teaches the rest of us, which is that our problems don't go away when we grow up. Rather, they get more complicated, and we get less sympathy for them.
I'm not a literary critic, and I'm not qualified to enter offer a critique of this book. My own experience of it was that I enjoyed it less than I would have if it were a full-fledged novel, but I still enjoyed it. It had more sentimentality than her previous books, but perhaps Rowling is suggesting that we get sappy as we get older.
Overall, I would advise reading it if you're a Harry Potter fan. The way she's developed the main characters seems consistent with the series as a whole, and again, it's fun to see them. There are also themes of reconciliation that I appreciated; it made certain relationships seem more realistic, even hopeful. If you didn't like the HP books, if you're feeling grumpy or critical, or not inclined to read stage directions, don't read it.