Good books allow readers to forget what is going on around them and instead plunge into the story and live the life of others. J.K. Rowling’s series has become so popular because the books are all written in such an ‘enchanted’ manner, with perfect descriptions that makes it simple for us to imagine what Harry Potter and his friends are going through.
The series starts with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, a simple story full of magic with a couple of tense scenes at the end, aimed at 11 year olds. It is in this second book that Rowling starts pivoting her magical tale into something darker, preparing readers for the battle between good and evil that has its roots in the third story and builds to a climax in the final book of the series.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets starts were the first book left off. Harry is mistreated at home, than goes to The Burrow were we are treated to a magical experience – life with the Weasleys. It is not until Harry Potter goes back to school that the story grips you and the tension starts to arise. The voice beyond the walls, a voice that only Harry could hear... The attacks... People close to Harry getting hurt... And finally the surprise ending – who was doing all this? A person no one suspects, who leads us to another confrontation between Voldemort and Harry.
One thing that fascinates me in the Harry Potter series is J.K. Rowling’s imagination – how she is able to transform places and objects we see or use in everyday life into something magical. If we pop into Mrs. Weasley’s kitchen we have a perfect example of this: “The clock on the wall opposite him had only one hand and no numbers at all. Written around the edge were things like ‘Time to make tea’, ‘Time to feed the chickens’ and ‘You’re late’”, and then again “She flicked her wand casually at the washing-up in the sink, which began to clean itself”.
Rowling manages to put a smile on the reader’s face with simple descriptions of this kitchen, or the portal at King’s Cross Station – the famous platform nine and three quarters – or Mr. Weasley’s car, which is magically transformed to fly yet also accommodates his large family.
In some instances I feel that Rowling wants to make us believe life was more simple before all electronic gadgets were invented. In her world telephones, computers, email and television do not exist. But it seems like the magical folks’ life is much more comfortable than ours. Of course who needs a telephone to talk to someone on the other side of town if we are able to Apparate in their house in seconds!
J.K. Rowling weaves historical and mythological stories into her books and, as she once said in an interview, she encourages the reader to discover them and decode her hidden clues. Most of the names, creatures and even situations that Harry encounters have a meaningful past, derived from folklore, legends, history and myths.
Rowling uses this same method in descriptions, leading us subtly towards the ending where the basilisk awaits Harry Potter in the Chamber of Secrets. Since this second book is all about snakes, throughout the story one notices discreet references that prepare the reader for what is to be the theme of the book. Simple descriptions like ‘The Hogwarts Express was streaking along below them like a scarlet snake’ and ‘Snape shot a look of pure venom’ bring up the recurring image.
All this shows how J.K. Rowling stimulates her reader’s imagination and intellect by making them read between the lines of her stories. Thus, I have to conclude this review exactly as I started it. Reading books is fun... and thanks to J.K. Rowling’s great talent, reading her Harry Potter series is much more fun!