Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets
Author: J.K. Rowling
Review by: Colleen
Available: In stores now!
*I would just like to point out that this is a review containing spoilers. If you don’t want to be spoiled, just read the first and last paragraphs of this review to get my overall spoiler-free thoughts.*
“Brilliant!” yelled Lee Jordan. “Inspired! What an entrance! Flying a car right into the Whomping Willow, people’ll be talking about that one for years—“ Lee could not have described J.K. Rowling’s book, “Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets”, any better. Her novel was certainly brilliant writing, this reread left me inspired, and anything Harry Potter related is always a welcomed conversation. I happily welcomed all three hundred and forty-one pages of this book into my life and I am so privileged to be able to review and discuss this amazing novel so let’s get right to it.
I read “The Chamber of Secrets” in five sittings, slowly progressing through the first half, than marathoning the last half of the book in one sitting. The second half of the story really picked up speed and peaked my interest a bit more than the first half did, starting with Harry and Draco’s duel. In this scene we learn that Harry is a Parselmouth, and all the suspicion about the Heir of Slytherin, The Chamber of Secrets, and the monster within it cause more mystery and, therefore, a bit more of an urgent hunt for all the answers.
Jumping back to the beginning of the book, we are introduced to two new characters; Gilderoy Lockhart and Dobby the House Elf. We learn that Dobby is here to protect Harry by keeping him from Hogwarts and Gilderoy is a wildly loved wizard known for his great adventures and books. I feel like these characters were part of what made the first parts of the book slower for me because they (mostly Gilderoy) were annoying and a bit frustrating as they were always screwing stuff up for Harry. I just kept saying “Really? Really, you’re gonna make them miss the train or mess with Harry’s school life by assuming things about him and being obnoxious.”
That frustrated feeling was the same for the beginning of the movie adaptation too, so it was good translation of emotion, just not my favorite emotion. Obviously, in the end I love Dobby and I loved him through the book it was just muddled by my frustration with his logic of keeping Harry safe. As for Gilderoy, well he turned out to be a lying and stealing jerk so he deserved what he got in the Chamber near the end.
Also in the beginning, two scenes that were left out of the movie version that I had totally forgotten about were the parts with the Malfoy’s in Knockturn Alley and the de-gnoming/ quidditch at the Weasley’s house.
In the first scene, Harry has arrived at The Burrow and is helping the Weasley’s de-gnome their garden as punishment for sneaking out with the flying car. Then, later on, they all played quidditch with apples near the house, taking turns riding Harry’s Nimbus 2000 as Ron’s broom, an old Shooting Star, often got outpaced by passing butterflies. I just absolutely loved getting to see Harry surrounded by people who cared about him and learn a bit more about what it was like to live within a wizard family’s home since we don’t get any description of it from Privet Drive.
In the second scene, Harry is hiding in a cupboard in a shop in Knockturn Alley and Lucius and Draco walk in and are selling items of Dark Magic to the shop owner because the Ministry is attempting to raid the Malfoy’s house to look for items containing Dark Magic. In this scene we learn that Draco is going to buy his way onto the Slytherin quidditch team and that he is failing most of his classes at Hogwarts (it was all Hermione’s fault, according to Draco). I also really enjoyed the intensity of this scene. Harry was almost caught in his hiding spot and we learn the the Malfoys are up to something.
Then we have the whole car crashing fiasco where Ron breaks his wand (which comes into play many times later in the story) and the flying car runs off into the Forbidden Forest (which is also set up for later events).
Eventually, after that, we get to the mystery that is the backbone of the plot for this year at Hogwarts. “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the Heir beware.” That line still manages to send chills up my spine as I imagine the haunting message written in blood on the walls of Hogwarts. It’s creepy and awesome at the same time, and reading this line, I think, was what really sped up my pace a little and compelled me to keep reading.
As our trio is trying to unravel this mystery, we see that Ginny is clearly not herself and that Percy is acting strange. This is part of why I loved the second half of the book because all these new suspects come into play and there is a lot more thinking involved. I admired how, once again, J.K. Rowling made me want to solve a puzzle that I already knew the answer to and really immersed me in this adventure.
Then Hermione gets petrified and we go to Hagrid’s Hut with reason to believe that he knew what the monster in the Chamber was (due to Tom Riddle’s diary), but, he gets arrested before Harry and Ron discover much. Though they are told to “…follow the spiders.” as Hagrid gets taken away and they go on an adventure to meet Aragog (which, I have to admit, was a really hilarious and terrifying scene). The way that the spiders and their lair are described is so vivid and I absolutely loved it when the car roared in to save them. It was unexpected and funny as you see these two scared-to-death boys screaming their heads off about man-eating spiders while they’re being rescued by a car. It was awesome.
My favorite part though, was the end battle. We started with the the boys making fun of Lockhart and making him go first down the pipe into the Chamber. Then, Gilderoy tries to use Ron’s wand to erase both Harry and Ron’s memories, but it backfires and erases Lockhart’s instead. I was laughing so hard. Gilderoy Lockhart deserved that for being a liar and erasing the memories of all those other people.
Then, Harry squeezes through a gap in the rubble to enter further into the Chamber of Secrets and uses Parseltongue to open a door into the main part of it. He finds Ginny lying half dead on the ground (oh the Hinny feels) and meets Tom Riddle, who Harry believes at this point to be good. He’s struggling to save Ginny and Tom reveals that he is actually Voldemort.
Harry then has to take on the basilisk with the Sword of Godric Gryffindor and the help of Fawkes. The intensity of this part was awesome. I flew through the the take down of the basilisk and was so proud of Harry for being brave, killing the serpent, destroying the diary and Tom Riddle, and saving Ginny. It was just a great, victorious scene and I really enjoyed.
“The Chamber of Secrets” finishes off with, of course, a famous Dumbledore quote; “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”, Dobby being freed, a House Cup win for Gryffindor (second year in a row), Hagrid returning from Azkaban, Hermione being cured, and a magnificent, magical feast. The ending really wrapped up nicely and made me feel warm and happy inside as if I celebrating with our trio and their success.
Overall, I absolutely adored this re-read of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” by J.K. Rowling! The writing was purely magical and the mystery was so well woven and compelling. I loved learning more history behind the characters and getting to explore a second year of Hogwarts with a whole new adventure. It is most definitely brilliant, inspired, and magical read that I will most certainly visit again in the future, as the Wizarding World always seems to draw you in, hold you close, and fill you with endless magic.