[Cursed Child is] a compelling, stay-up-all-night read ... this play nimbly sustains itself simply by situating its canny story line in that world and remaining true to its characters and rules. As in the books, the suspense here is electric and nonstop, and it has been cleverly constructed around developments recalling events in the original Potter novels.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the bare-bones script of a play. And yet, it has the same addictive drive as Rowling’s novels ... Thorne has by some sort of alchemy written a book that I would previously have assumed only J.?K. Rowling could write. The humor is Rowling’s, as is the tightrope-with-an-umbrella execution of a formidably complicated plot and Rowling’s sturdy, pragmatic morality, where the high cost of doing the right thing is nevertheless worth paying.
It’s ambitious, studded with predictable and consequently satisfying twists that reach a critical mass in the finale. This feels very much like Rowling ... Even in the relatively fixed future where most of Cursed Child takes place, the characters are the right degree of surprising. Harry Potter himself has been so thoroughly, faithfully imagined since 1997 that it’s satisfying to see him as a crappy father and an awkward bureaucrat ... Without set decoration, it cleanly shows the moral imagination of the Harry Potter universe, in which goodness is circumstantial and endings are never guaranteed.
...the Cursed Child rehearsal script manages to throw a wild new wrench into the Potter series, unlocking a rarely tapped portal of the reader’s imagination in a way no Potter book has before ... Cursed Child teems with the clever, cerebral thrills we’ve come to demand in a Potter tale ... On a purely narrative level, this new story introduces captivating arcs and bold theories that immediately place this sequel squarely in Rowling’s world of simmering, slow-burn machinations.
Thorne does an admirable job of crawling into the headspace of Rowling’s characters while giving their progeny their own bravado and humour. Where Rowling delighted readers with her deft descriptions, Thorne provides sparse stage directions. This convention, the most obvious change in the storytelling, doesn’t immediately reveal its effectiveness but as the story progresses its impact is impressive ... Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a shout out to aficionados that welcomes newcomers into its universe.
As a reading experience, Cursed Child has much to recommend it. The characters are vividly drawn, and the plot is full of great twists yet consistent with the earlier stories ... Cursed Child might not be quite a magical as Rowling's novels, but it's enough to hold me until I find a spell for putting one of those [play] tickets into my hand.
...once you begin reading, your imagination fills in the background, the stage set, and the characters' physical appearance and voices. Our imaginations may not be enough to evoke the dazzling special effects the stage version is being celebrated for, but fans will slide quite easily into this beloved and familiar world ... a most satisfying and well-done follow-up to Deathly Hallows. It's beautifully written and achieves Shakespearean levels of drama.
Cursed Child is, in many ways, a direct response to criticism, taking readers back to the great moments of the series while also spinning the Potterverse forward. In critiquing and potentially changing Harry’s past, the play justifies its own portrayal of his future. And while reading the script is an incomplete experience -- noticeably lacking the richness that acting and staging would add to a realized production and the familiar Rowling prose a novel would have contained -- it may capture just enough of the old Potter magic to please even the most skeptical fans.
As Albus and Scorpius struggle with living under the shadows cast by their fathers, Cursed Child too seems to wrestle with its legacy, borrowing heavily from older stories while simultaneously challenging the confines of their world ... what’s most remarkable about Thorne’s work is how smoothly it flows. At its best, it’s as gripping as many of Rowling’s books were ... Thorne’s Harry Potter, all grown up, features prominently in the play, and the tension between him and his son is one of the most frustrating plot points, born out of dramatic necessity and riddled with cliché and angsty platitudes ... Reading Cursed Child, for all its compelling twists and turns, at many points feels like reading well-crafted fan fiction—the names are the same, and the characters feel familiar, but it’s apparent that they’re imitations nonetheless.
Thankfully, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has added a much-needed coda that reminds us of the original seven book-series’ complex folds and wrinkles. In short: this script’s existence makes the Harry Potter series better ... The action, which picks up where the epilogue leaves off, bears Rowling’s best storytelling hallmarks: breathless, well-choreographed adventure setpieces, along with chemistry between the original characters ... The script’s dialogue is fine, although it lacks Rowling’s particular talent for precise verbal humor.