This isn’t my first attempt at book blogging. I ran The Cheap Reader for a number of years before burning out. I’m dusting off some of my reviews and giving them new life over here.
“Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets” by J. K. Rowling
Genre: Children’s Fiction, Fantasy
The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.
And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girl’s bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny.
But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone – or something – starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects… Harry Potter himself?
The book is still pretty mild but I liked that it started tacking some of the big issues to come primarily the idea of race/blood. One of my favorite things about Harry Potter is the depth of the book. You can read the book superficially as a fun fantasy story. There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s how I read the series for the first few times. But when you start digging, you see the thought Rowling put into the books and you appreciate the story so much more. Like I said, blood line is the focus on this story. I definitely appreciated the fact that Rowling explained the different type of blood lines within in the wizard community. Even if you don’t agree with how wizards treat people, you start to understand why there’s animosity within the community. That’s some good world building and the world building makes sense.
In conjunction with that tangent, Chamber of Secrets has one of my many favorite quotes from the series:
“It is our choices, Harry, that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
The quote is so perfect and it’s definitely a running theme through the whole series. It doesn’t matter how good (or bad) you are with magic, it matters what you do with that power. Think of Lockhart. He’s a good wizard by technical standards, right? It’s what he chose to do with those powers that made him awful. The fact that the quote is completely applicable to real life is just icing on the cake.
There’s a nice progression into the darker subjects. It’s just a step darker than Sorcerer’s Stone. I guess it’s not as big of a deal now since kids can pick up the whole series and read it back to back but when I originally read the series the gradual descent into darker subjects was perfect. I was a year older each time a book was published (much like the characters) so I grew and matured into each book. That definitely helped me love the stories more. I probably could have handled Deathly Hallows when I was 10 but at 18 I was much more prepared for the story.
Oh Dobby. Yes, he’s not going about saving Harry in best manner but he’s doing the only thing he can do in his circumstances. Besides, his heart’s in the right place and that’s enough. Overall Harry is a pretty likable protagonist but there are many, many times he drives me insane. I know his heart is in the right place and he does make the right decisions but he’s very reckless and impulsive. He’s very quick to jump to conclusions and tries to fix the wrongs. You know that’s a horrible combination. I loved that we got to see more of the Weasley family at the beginning of the book. There was always this very homey feel to them. It’s been there since my first reading of the series. The warm fuzzy feeling I have for them only grows each time I read the books.
The bottom line: A very solid sequel.