Monday, January 16, 2012

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling is the second book in her wildly popular series about boy wizard, Harry Potter.  Harry and his friends, Ron and Hermione, are in their second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and I hope none of them thought this year would be more normal after all the danger and shenanigans of their first year, because if they did - well, they were sadly mistaken.

The book starts out, like the first, at Harry's aunt and uncle's house on Privet Drive.  They are still horrible people, but since they're afraid Harry will do magic on them, it is perhaps not quite as unbearable as before; and this summer, he had his friends from school to keep in touch with.  Or so he thought.  He hasn't actually heard from any of them all summer, and Harry's uncle never lets him send his owl out, so he hasn't been able to write either.  He also can't study, since all his school stuff is locked up in the cupboard that used to be his bedroom.  Being that he is around twelve years old, though, I seriously doubt he would have been spending his time actually studying, but I guess you never know.

Anyway, so one evening, the Dursleys (that is, his aunt and uncle) have Harry shut up in his room while they have company over, when a house elf shows up and gives Harry some cryptic warnings about how he shouldn't go back to school, because bad things are going to happen there.  Obviously, this house elf was not aware of the events of the previous year, or he would have realized that Harry has been there and done that as far as "bad things" are concerned.

Of course, Harry goes to school, though he and Ron run into some difficulty with actually getting there, and end up one strike away from being expelled once they do arrive.  As it is, they just get detention.  These are not the bad things the house elf warned Harry about, though.  What he did mean becomes clear, though, when not long into the year, the caretaker's cat is attacked and left next to an ominous message about the Chamber of Secrets and the Heir of Slytherin - pretty soon, some Muggle-born students are attacked one by one and the others start traveling in packs to potentially avoid becoming magical hate crime victims themselves.  The entire school is on edge, and when Harry is found to have a creepy and extremely rare talent, everyone starts to think he is Slytherin's heir, and therefore the person responsible for the attacks.

Naturally, Harry and his friends start meddling and being nosy, and again this pays off when they discover who/what really is behind the attacks.  In exchange for saving the school, they don't get expelled for all the rule-breaking they have clearly been doing all year.

I really enjoy the Harry Potter series, and re-reading them to review is a lot of fun - Rowling brings back the characters we loved from The Sorcerer's Stone, and introduces some new ones as well (such as poor, annoying little Colin Creevey and Ginny, the youngest Weasley).  We also meet Gilderoy Lockhart, their new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, who would get on my nerves if I had to be around him in person, but who I love anyway since he is played by Kenneth Branagh in the movie.

The world-building also becomes a little more developed since the first book - Rowling takes us to a few new places, and we learn a little more about the wizard world:  new methods of transportation, for instance, and wizards' apparently complete ignorance of anything non-magical.  Ron's dad works in the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts department at the ministry, and when he seems so genuinely dazzled by the workings of non-magical items, asking Harry about things like escalators and the Underground, I always think of the line from that Insane Clown Posse song - "fuckin' magnets, how do they work?"

One thing I like about Chamber of Secrets is how much more action there is than in The Sorcerer's Stone - there's a lot of suspense, then once the pieces are in place, it gets very exciting.  I mean, that sword at Harry's hip?  Yeah, not just cover art.  He gets to use a sword.  He also gets sprayed with blood (though it isn't too graphic for the age group of the target audience).  It is kind of awesome.



Arthur A. Levine Books

Series Info:  What came before this book?  What's next?
Harry Potter
* Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2)

Film Adaptations:
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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Better World Books


  1. Oh, yes, Lockhart is great, if only because of Kenneth Branagh. I loved his performance in the movie!

  2. Yep, this is a good one, partly because of the action--but for me, the series really took off in Azkaban. Maybe because I'm a Sirius fan? :-)

    1. Yes, that's a good one, too! To me, Prisoner of Azkaban is the first book where they aren't really "kids" anymore, they're teenagers, and so that's when the stories start getting a bit more dark. So yes, I would agree the series definitely picks up in that one. :)

  3. I just love the harry potter series. The second isn't my favourite book, but it is my favourite HP movie. I remember watching it 2 times just without a pauze. I used to have the video but I watched it SO may times that it broke :S