Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - JK Rowling

Review for…

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2) by JK Rowling

Ever since Harry Potter had come home for the summer, the Dursleys had been so mean and hideous that all Harry 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 who says that if Harry 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 and a spirit who haunts the girls' bathroom. But then the real trouble begins -- someone is 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!

For the past couple years I’d convinced myself that this is one of the weakest books in the series. When I learned that JK Rowling had planned for some of the events of book 6 to actually happen in book 2, (SPOILER: specifically the Headmaster’s death) I convinced myself it felt weak because she’d moved things around to the detriment of the series.

In fact, however, I had a surprisingly good time rereading this. I feel as though it’s short, dealing with less things pre-Hogwarts, whereas the first book spent almost half of its length setting up the wizarding world. But for all that, it felt like very little got done. Of course, this is the first time we see Ron’s home, and the first time we get invited into the warmth of the Weasley home. The reunion with old friends and with the world that actually has a place for him was so emotional and wonderful. The friendships developed are very solidly built, and the insecurities felt by characters are poignant and make us grow closer to them as well.

So, like the previous book, I spent my time trying to dig deeper into adult motivations. McGonagall, Dumbledore and Snape all featured, but I spent most of my time wondering what exactly Tom Riddle knew, cooped up in that book. Clearly Ginny told him that Harry defeated Lord Voldemort. That seems to have been lost on me previously: how exactly did Riddle know? Ginny told him. It’s such a creepy thing to have Harry breeze over, but as we know, she reminds him of it in the fifth book… and he’s chilled.

A spot of annoyance for a lot of people are the elves, but as annoying as they are (and as morally complicated their relationship with wizards is) it’s important that we begin to learn about them now, to see how they play a part in events in books 4 and beyond. It’s a good time for us to start thinking about why Kreacher can’t be dismissed. The author clearly knows how to foreshadow.
This was also a good development for Draco who is one of my favorite characters to watch, and for Ginny, whom we hadn’t seen much of yet. I’m looking forward to seeing their growth with new eyes, as well as hearing what can be gleaned from their stories in The Sacred Text podcast, which is still well worth a listen.

Pages: 341
Year: July 2nd 1998
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Press

Read: 23 Oct 17 - 28 Oct 17
Stars: 4.5 (adored it)