There’s never a bad time to re-read Harry Potter. It’s been something I’ve been meaning to do since I last re-read them when I was in high school. Plus, it was a necessary precursor to reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. So I put the books on my 2017 to-read list and happily spent a large chunk of February returning to the wonderful world of wizarding.
The series definitely holds up reading them as an adult. Of course, I forgot that it takes nearly one hundred pages for Harry to get to Hogwarts in the first book (the movie covers those one hundred pages in maybe five minutes). And not every book spoke to me or had me on the edge of my seat as I knew how things were going to go. But it did give me the chance to notice some lovely things happening in the background. I really love Neville Longbottom’s arc, especially in the first book where there’s the question of whether or not he should have been sorted into Gryffindor. And there’s plenty of fun wizarding details that you don’t get in the movies that you can spend pages dwelling in in the books.
My favorites of the series are Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Chamber of Secrets always feels like a really good mystery novel. I remember as a kid dramatically reading aloud Tom Riddle’s rant toward the end of the book. Much like Chamber of Secrets, Goblet of Fire is non-stop action. What struck me most this time around was its discussion of international wizard relations (the Muslim Ban occurred while I was reading this, so it was incredibly timely). Half-Blood Prince felt like an on-going episode of Criminal Minds as Dumbledore and Harry explored memories related to Voldemort’s upbringing and evolution to his present form, and I think that subplot was incredibly important in understanding this villain and the choices he has made. Deathly Hallows is a great end to the series, but I especially loved learning all the wand lore and seeing its importance in the plot. If I were a witch, I would definitely study wand lore.
“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. Lord Voldemort’s gift for spreading discord and enmity is very great. We can fight it only by showing an equally strong bond of friendship and trust. Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.” —Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
The only book that fell a little flat for me in the series as I re-read it was Prisoner of Azkaban. I think that’s largely because so much of that book’s tension comes from thinking Sirius Black is a Death Eater on the hunt to kill Harry. Knowing the plot and who all these characters really are sort of took away a lot of the drama of the novel. Likewise, it didn’t feel as intense and action-packed as Chamber of Secrets or Goblet of Fire. Still, it’s a great book and a wonderful piece of this seven book narrative.
Once I finished re-reading the seven Harry Potter books, I read Cursed Child for the first time. I wasn’t sure what to expect as I’d seen mixed reviews online. It was okay. It’s a play, so it’s not like reading a Harry Potter book. But I also think it would be SUPER COOL to see this play live and I want to know how some of the magic is done. I really liked the questions and issues at hand in the plot, but at times it felt like Harry Potter and his friends took over the story from their children (who it was really about). Likewise, some aspects of the plot were hard to believe and didn’t feel like they should be canon. I was also upset that Scorpius and Albus were only friends at the end as there was so much hugging going on between them that I couldn’t help but ship them. I just wanted to see some gay wizards!
All in all, it was great to step back into the wizarding world. I think I became even more of a Harry Potter fan reading it this time. I’m also eyeing those illustrated editions of Harry Potter that John Kay is doing. So stunning!
Title(s): Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (5/5), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (5/5), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (4/5), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (5/5), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (5/5), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (5/5), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (5/5), Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (3/5)
Author(s): J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child only), Jack Thorne (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child only)
Overall Rating: 5/5
Format Accessed: Paperback (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), Hardcover (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), eBook (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child)
Additional Reading: “23 Harry Potter Quotes for Surviving the Trump Era”