Wednesday 22 June 2011

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J. K. Rowling

With just a few weeks to go before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is released into the cinemas, I decided to pick up the series where I left off a month or two ago and see if I could reread the lot before going to see the film. The Chamber of Secrets is a lighter read than I’ve come to expect from the series; this is the book – and film – I tend to neglect the most. The Story hasn’t really got started yet, and this book still feels quite safe and self-contained. Sure, there is danger; someone or something has been attacking students at Hogwarts to leave them comatose – and it’s only by luck that no one has died! If the culprit is not caught, Hogwarts must close! But we know that, eventually, everything will be all right, Harry and his friends will find out who did it, might have a near-death experience, but they’ll pull through and save the day.

Rereading this book when you know the whole story, you realise anew how much Harry still has to learn about the wizarding world. In this book, Harry, Ron and Hermione learn how to use the essential Expelliarmus spell, how to make and use polyjuice potion, and for the first time Azkaban prison casts its shadow. We meet the father of school bully Draco Malfoy and start to understand that the Malfoy family are not just snobs, not just nasty, but dark wizards and thinly-veiled supporters of Voldemort. It is here that we hear the insult, “mudblood,” for the first time and find out just how seriously some wizards take the “purity” of their blood – and everyone else’s. This book also has a wonderful comic moment in the duelling club, led by self-obsessed new teacher Professor Lockhart and cold, cruel Professor Snape, who one has to love to hate. I find myself mentally cheering Snape on, because Lockhart is just that annoying.

In some ways this is one of my lesser favourite books in the series. I’m not a big fan of the giant spider detour, and to be blunt, Dobby the house-elf is somewhat irritating.  On the other hand, the Chamber of Secrets is a thrilling mystery, and I love the storyline with Tom Riddle’s old diary, which seems to be a magical revelation into the past, but turns out to be something much more sinister.  I remember being amazed by the twist at the end when we discover the other, more famous identity of handsome, popular golden boy Tom Riddle.


  1. I keep meaning to re-read these but never seem to get around to it - thanks for giving me the inspiration to do so. I'm pleased to read you also found Dobby irritating - I disliked him with a passion.

  2. I can't wait to see the movie! Like you, I also loved the storyline with Tom Riddle's diary. It was just so creative and unexpected!

  3. This book is also one of my least favourite books in the series. It is mainly because of Dobby and Lockhart. I love the Tom Riddle part though. :)


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