When earlier editions of Harry Potter came out, I stood in line at the bookstore waiting for the midnight opening. Then stood in line for another hour and a half to finally get my hands on my reserved copy. It was only a few blocks from my apartment, but it was still a trial. I have no children to provide cover and I would rather eat glass than dress up in a costume so I felt decidedly like a fish out of water. I went electronic this time, no line, no waiting and no trouble being out of my element.
But no, I could not wait. I stayed up until I finished. Not that it took so long, it’s a play. They are fast reading. There no long exposition, no dwelling in the characters’ minds. Just action and dialogue and a paragraph here and there of scene-setting.
We are 20 years after the wizarding wars ended with the death of Voldemort. Harry and his wife Ginny are sending their young son, Albus Severus Potter, off to Hogwarts. Like his father, he meets his best friend on the first trip to school, but his best friend is Scorpius Malfoy and more shocking, yet, he is assigned to Slytherin. A few years pass and Albus Hogwarts career is most decidedly not what was expected. He knows it and is certain his father is disappointed in him. And that is why Harry and Albus are the stereotypical frustrated father and angry son, incapable of talking to each other without provoking each other. And the hurt and resentment keep piling up.
There are rumors that Scorpius Malfoy is actually Voldemort’s son. Rumors that Harry’s nemesis, Draco, adamantly denies. But Harris is not so sure. Why else would Harry feels such foreboding? Why does he have frightening dreams in which he hears Voldemort calling him? Why is his scar is aching as it has not for decades.
Something evil and powerful is coming and it is connected to Albus. Meanwhile, Albus gets the idea of showing his father by fixing his father’s greatest regret and saving Cedric Diggory’s life. Without much thought to the ramifications of meddling in time, he and Scorpius embark on their quest, bringing about all sorts of unforeseen results and launching us into one of those save-the-world efforts that make Harry Potter so effective.
I love more than the plots and schemes, the action and the dialogue of the Harry Potter films. I love the sense of place, the details and the descriptions that enrich the novels. As a play, that has been stripped away. It is a serviceable plot that saves a lot of scenery-setting by being set in the past in events Potter readers know well, so we have those scenes in our minds already. But I miss them. I don’t read many plays because I love exposition about the setting, the mood, and so on. I miss them in this play, but recognize, I have them already in my head, ready to call into service.
According to Rowling, this is the last Potter book. Well, she said that before. I hope she’s wrong. I hope there is another, with Albus of course, and that it a novel with all the luscious anecdotes, details and inner monologues that a novelist can indulge.