“The Harry Potter stories will join that small group of children’s books which are read and reread into adulthood.”

 

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

So, the second Harry Potter book. Only recently have I been introduced into the magical, stick waving, broom stick mounting, floating candle world of Potter and his friends. It comes after many years of depriving myself of the wonders because of awkward things like work and eating and other unimportant stuff.

I enjoyed the first book a great deal and relished all the hints and suggestiveness that was nodded at in it. A whole world continuing to unfurl in my imagination.

To say I was disappointed is maybe an overstatement, slightly deflated is maybe more accurate. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a fine children’s book, with all the good morals, fine story telling and warmth of friendship and belonging driving it along nicely. It also retains the dual layered elements that J.K. Rowling does so well, appealing to the young and old alike. It just “feels” like a second book. If you can appreciate what I mean. It feels as though after the success of the first book the publishers were pushing for the sequel. Rushed almost. Not “that’ll do,” it’s nowhere near that bad, but just slightly lacking from the first book. After all, at this stage in her career, J.K. didn’t hold the obvious power and control that she so richly deserves these days.

But don’t dismiss this as being a bad book, or an unworthy edition to the series. It’s still very good, and far above most children’s literature. Once again we see the good versus bad, and once again our three lead protagonists balance and enhance each other perfectly. We also get further into their characters and a real picture and feel for our heroes begins to develop. You care about them now. You still want to learn and hear more about them. All the peripheral characters also become part of the whole too. It’s a nice progression. And once again the story is moved along nicely with even more details, references and hints at things to come.

I think the problem may stem from myself. I read the first two books one after the other, and therefore didn’t need the reiteration of characters and backgrounds, and I’m assuming (and hoping) that by the third instalment that this will no longer be necessary. I fully understand why it needed to be done though.

Reading this back it sounds a bit moany and grumpy, which, to be fair, is my default setting but don’t let this put you off. It’s still a fine book, well written, with dark and light and fully rounded people and locations. It truly is a real world. It will be fully formed in your imagination. It will also leave you ready to devour the next book in line. This was the “difficult second album” and by those standards, it does very well indeed. Besides, you can’t go through the whole series and miss one out, can you?  Read it, or more likely, read it again.

 

Reviewed by:

Jake Mann

Added 12th September 2015

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Jake Mann

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