Pottermore
Marc Snetiker
July 31, 2016 AT 12:00 PM EDT

So, did you finish Harry Potter and the Cursed Child yet? And if so, are you still breathing?

The easily-digestible eighth story in the Harry Potter series is now in your hands, and to say that it’s loaded with shocking revelations is to say that mandrakes are basically just loud whisperers.

Cursed Child has blown open the Potter world, or at the very least, it’s uncovered a wild new layer of the core Potter characters as we’ve never seen before — and unless you get tickets to the West End play (or inevitable Broadway run), the truth is, you may never see them. With scant stage directions, Cursed Child challenges you more than ever to fill in the blanks and imagine expressions, intonations, and surroundings, given the tricky, titillating challenge of this tale told as a stage play. (Read EW’s review of the book for further thoughts on this delightful new challenge of imagination.)

But let’s talk plot. And beware, because spoilers follow. Spoilers are everything. Spoilers are the only thing from here on out. My Patronus is a spoiler.

Amos Diggory wants justice! Voldemort had a daughter! Godric’s Hollow is a farmer’s market! The trolley witch is literally insane! Umbridge, Bane, Myrtle! SNAPE! There’s a lot to digest in these 308 pages, and I’m as uncertain as you are about how to discuss a new Harry Potter book in this hot-take world of 2016.

Fortunately, EW will be here for you this month to go deeper into some of the biggest bombshells in Cursed Child, but let’s get the conversation going here. I’ll give you some of my big takeaways that I’m dying to discuss:

—The fabulous introduction of Albus and Scorpius, whom I would argue are two perfectly conceived characters and very welcome new (yes, new) additions to the Potterverse. Scorpius exudes charm, wry humor and, when he says “I think she’s brilliant,” an impossible-to-ignore similarity to what made Ron such a delightful friend. Albus, on the other hand, is just as headstrong and confident as his father, but even in his angst there’s a lovable quality that’s made this pair of Slytherins (!) an incredibly exciting one. (Rose, meanwhile, shows great promise and a whole lot of her mother—would you have liked to see more of her?)

The grown gang’s new jobs: Hermione’s the Minister for Magic (with a ton of weaponized books in tow), Harry and Draco are Ministry bureaucrats, and Ron—hilariously—has all but become Fred Weasley. Plus, we already knew about some of our favorites (like how Ginny edits the Daily Prophet or Neville teaches at Hogwarts). Yet they all have another gig that none of them have quite mastered: being a parent. And somehow, they’re all exactly as maternal, paternal, and avuncular as I expected them to be. Agree?

—The cameos! Between ghosts, centaurs, Dementors, and Umbridge, there are plenty of divine character surprises to dive into—and that’s not even including the strange, tragic reappearances of Dumbledore and Snape. How did you feel about the cameos along Albus and Scorpius’s time-jumping journey? Were they all earned, or would you have left some of those surprise guests stay where they belong—in memory?

—On the flip side, which character wasn’t in Cursed Child that you wanted to see? What fate befell Teddy Lupin? Would you have liked to see Neville or Luna make an appearance? What does Dudley actually do these days?

—The time-travel timeline is a beast to behold, but it does raise some fun questions. For one thing, all the what-ifs of the alternate realities were an explosion of fan-fic freedom. Ron marrying Padma Patil? Hermione becoming a bitter Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher? That nightmarish Voldemort Day!? Which what-if was the most insane?

—Rest in peace, Aunt Petunia. Do your thing, Amos Diggory. And hey, give it up for Professor McGonagall, serving as headmistress and serving a dose of realness to her three grown wards, even when one of them is the Minister for Magic. Yes, it’s strange to hear McGonagall say “Harry,” just as it’s equally strange to hear Harry say “Minerva,” but the juicy role McGonagall got to play in Cursed Child was a fantastic treat.

—There’s something fascinating in how Rowling (and Thorne & Tiffany) opted to give Cedric Diggory’s death such importance in this eighth tale. Cedric’s death is the cornerstone of Harry’s journey in books five through seven, so there’s certainly no doubt that his death was pivotal in the original series, but I for one didn’t expect it to serve as such a primary plot point in Cursed Child. Speaking of…

Delphi: How does she rate as the Potter world’s newest villain?

—Which action-packed set piece was your favorite? The daring leap from the Hogwarts Express? The Polyjuice infiltration of the Ministry of Magic? The pulse-pounding return to Godric’s Hollow? Or the completely nonexistent face-off between Harry and pigeons?

—Finally, my last question to you, fans and readers: How do you feel with Cursed Child‘s culmination of Harry’s story? Do you accept the finality laid out for Harry, Ginny, and Albus? Will it take time for these new truths to sink in? What surprised you? What would you have done differently? And what did you love that you couldn’t have possibly imagined?

And, hey, also, um… who was the actual cursed child?

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