Category Archives: Plays

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (No Spoilers)

I think it’s safe to say that the book that has generated the most hype this year is “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”. I have vivid memories of lining up early to get my pre-ordered copy of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” back in 2007. At the time, there was no doubt in my mind that Harry Potter was over. I had grown up with this book series, and this was its end. So when I found out that I was going to be able to experience the excitement of the release of a Harry Potter book one more time, well, needless to say I was beside myself with anticipation.

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne is the script of the play of the same name currently showing in London. The story picks up after the Harry Potter series finishes and for all intents and purposes can be considered the eighth Harry Potter book. The story is centred on Harry Potter’s second son Albus, a troubled teen wizard who struggles with living in the shadow of his father’s fame. Albus is determined to forge his own path but things don’t quite work out as expected and in trying to fix them, Albus risks disaster and losing everything he cares about – including himself.

I really don’t want to give away too much in this review because I genuinely think that spoilers would ruin it, so I’ll try to keep this as vague as possible. I absolutely enjoyed every minute of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”. This book is a good mix of old and new with enough references to past events that it’s familiar, and enough new content that it’s engaging. For the most part, the plot held up and the characters were good. I thought that in particular the new character Scorpius, the son of Draco Malfoy, was outstanding and possibly even the highlight of the book. Harry is still very much Harry. Hermione is fantastic in some points but not so much in others. Ron is hopeless, but Draco is pretty good. The antagonist beggars belief and is probably the weakest part of the whole book, but there is enough going on with the other characters to hold up the story on either side. There are surprises, there are laughs and there are tears. I thought reading it as a play rather than a novel was going to be clunky, but actually it flowed really well.

So, is “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” as good as “Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban” or “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (what I consider to be the pinnacle of the series)? No. Is it as good as the other books in the series? Probably not. Did I love it anyway? Yes. Definitely yes. The enormous nostalgia factor of this book forgives a lot of the issues with plot, character and continuity. Considering nine years ago I thought that I had stepped into the wizarding world for the last time, it was simply a joy to experience the hype and the magic of Harry Potter once more. Sometimes a bit of joy is all you need.

Ten points to Gryffindor.


Filed under Book Reviews, Children's Books, Fantasy, Plays, Pretty Books

Matchbox Theatre: Thirty Short Entertainments

I picked this book up at the Lifeline Bookfair for one reason and one reason only: it is adorable. This little book called “Matchbox Theatre: Thirty Short Entertainments” by Michael Frayn is a small, hardcover book that slides out of its cardboard slip just like a box of matches. It wasn’t expensive and it was pretty, so I picked it up and added it to my to-read pile.

“Matchbox Theatre” is a collection of thirty short vignettes that are presented like tiny skits in a theatre, complete with intermission. This book is very self-aware and the narrator (when there is one) breaks the fourth wall constantly. The skits are generally about ordinary day-to-day interactions with a rather cynical undertone.


Despite there being thirty “entertainments”, I did not find this book entertaining. Maybe I’m too young, or maybe it’s just not my style of humour, but each little skit with it’s own little social jab just seemed so banal to me. The jokes in the majority of these tiny plays felt like they were picking at the lowest hanging of fruit with skits about mobile phones, doctor appointments, foreign names that are difficult to say and difficult wives who nag and finish your sentences for you. This book was an absolute chore to get through and the only thing I felt when I finished it was relief.

To be honest, although this book looks really cute, I would not recommend it unless you were a white male octogenarian who uses phrases like “kids these days”.

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Filed under Book Reviews, General Fiction, Plays, Pretty Books