Any new work from J.K. Rowling was always going to be eagerly received. Add into that, the fact that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a continuation of Harry Potter’s story, set nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts, and it’s easy to see that Rowling would have a surefire hit on her hands. However, the publication of Cursed Child bears a few major differences to the publications of Rowling’s original Harry Potter novels.
Firstly, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is a script. It is not intended to be a novel, and what is more, the script that has been published is the rehearsal edition for the stage show currently running in two parts at The Palace Theatre, London (though it’s unlikely there will be any major differences in the resulting play). Secondly, and something that hardcore Potterheads aren’t overly happy about, the actual script is not written by Rowling herself. Rather, Rowling has written the story of Cursed Child with the stage play directors, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne, and Thorne has converted this into a script. How much input Rowling has had into the script is not clear, but as those who have read it will attest, it very strongly bears her hallmark. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, Cursed Child is written to be visualized on a stage.
Still, these differences hasn’t stopped fans excitement building for the Cursed Child script release, with news of fans queuing overnight and holding Cursed Child release parties reminiscent of years gone by when the Harry Potter novels were being published. In fact, Cursed Child was enjoying hugely successful sales figures even before its release.
THR now reports that Cursed Child has sold over 2 million copies in its first 2 days of release (based on statistics from Scholastic), topping the bestseller lists at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Though its initial sales figures are well below the 8.3 million copies that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold on its first day of release in 2007, Cursed Child can still enjoy the accolade of being one of the fastest selling books of all time: a feat that is all the more remarkable considering it is a script.
In the U.K., Rowling’s home country, Cursed Child has sold 680,000 copies in three days, making it the fastest-selling book of this decade. According to the BBC, at present it is on track to achieve the second biggest single week sales of a book since records began. The current record holder is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which sold more than 2.4 million copies in the U.K. in its first week of release.
Reviews for the script thus far have been mixed; including those who were disappointed to learn that it was, in fact, a script. That said, the style of writing can be difficult to grasp for those not already familiar with it, since the narrative relies solely on dialogue and there is little to no description within the text. It is also very long – remember that Cursed Child is presented in two parts, and results in over 5 hours of stage time, total. All of that said, Cursed Child has been enjoying rave reviews for the stage production.
Cursed Child also includes some interesting possibilities and successfully presents Harry, Ron, Hermione and Draco as adults; giving a suitable ending to Harry’s story, as well as taking us right back into the Wizarding World as if we had never left. It is a script that demands to be seen, and that can be a good or bad thing, depending on whether you’re lucky enough to have secured tickets to see the show.
Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is out now. The stage play runs at London’s Palace Theatre until December 2017.