25/08/2005

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (by JK Rowling)

Having re-read the first of JK Rowling's famous books, I decided to continue, and picked up the second which I read today. Again it's not a long book, and is recommended for age 9-11 which is probably about right, though of course younger children read it (or have it read aloud to them) and teenagers and adults enjoy it too!

"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' starts in a similar way to the first, with Harry staying at his horrible relatives' home. This time he's treated slightly better than previously, until Dobby the house-elf erupts into his life and tries to convince him not to return to Hogwarts. Disaster ensues until Harry is rescued in a highly unorthodox fashion by some of his friends. Naturally he gets back to school eventually, and has various excitements and battles including a dramatic climax near the end.

It's a little darker than the first book, with more action, but still quite appropriate for children. Unlike the movie, there's no bad language, for instance. And while Harry and friends break school rules, it's all in classic school story style: rule-breaking is quite acceptable if it's for higher purposes, such as saving lives, helping friends, or generally fulfilling the schoolchildren's code of honour.

Once again the 'magic' is really only a small part of the book, a background in which the story is played out. Harry learns a bit more about himself and about the confrontation he is going to have to make one day against the evil Lord Voldemort. There are some surprises: I had thought the book would take a similar path to the first, when I first read it, and was pleased to find that I was wrong.

I didn't like it quite as much as the first book, but still recommend it highly. I suspect this one may have hidden significance in the unknown finale that will be revealed eventually in the seventh book.

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