Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

By: J. K. Rowling

Review By: Alex Frank


This book review contains spoilers. I can’t really imagine anyone being later on the draw than myself in reading the Harry Potter series. But if you have yet to read these books or watch any of the movies, don’t read this. However, if you are already a huge fan and would like to view the opinions of someone who, up until now, had only seen the movies, please feel free to read my book review. Thank you.

Harry Potter has officially made it through his first year at the wizarding school of Hogwarts. The Dursleys are terrified of Harry and have no idea that he is not allowed to use magic outside of school. Yet they still treat him worse than a dog. The summer cannot seem to go by fast enough as Harry awaits to begin his second year of wizard training and to spend time with the friends he mysteriously hasn’t heard from all summer.

But when a house elf comes by the Dursley residence on Privet Drive, Harry is given the worst news. The house elf tells him he should not return to Hogwarts this year because terrible things are going to happen. Harry Potter will be in grave danger.

I really enjoyed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone because we were introduced to all the characters, but I admit that Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was much more thrilling to me. I especially enjoyed how I felt we spent more time with Harry at Hogwarts and less time with him staying at the Dursley’s home. But even the time we did spend with him on Privet Drive was more entertaining then what was given to us in the first book.

I also enjoyed how we were introduced to more magic very early on and it just kept building on itself. The introduction of Floo powder, new spells like lumos, and the raising of Mandrake plants added greatly to the fun and whimsy of this novel.

The mystery and tension were also built very skillfully. I really enjoyed how each chapter gave a clue of some sort as to what was going on, but we really weren’t meant to figure out the mystery until Harry does. I already knew what was going to happen because I’d seen the movies. However, I was looking for clues in the novel that it was Tom Riddle the whole time, and I think Rowling did a very good job of giving clues but hiding the real culprit. Especially since we needed Tom to explain how he manipulated Ginny to gain power.

I will admit that the battle with the basilisk was a bit disappointing to me. Harry was able to defeat it in what seems like maybe only one or two pages of the whole book. I was expecting more drama and action, but perhaps that is because they drew that scene out in the movie and that was what I was picturing while I read the book. Rowling seemed to do that in the last book too. She builds up all this tension to a climactic moment when Harry meets his greatest threat and Harry is able to defeat them in no time at all. The journey to get to that point is more interesting then the final encounter. Even Tom Riddle was destroyed in two sentences.

There were also some details I wish would have been included in the movies that were taken out. The Deathday party for Nearly Headless Nick was very interesting and some of the details they changed for the movies were strange. For example, why did they have Dobby drop the cake on Mrs. Mason in the movie instead of Harry and then scaring Mrs. Mason with the owl. I think that would have been far funnier. But I digress.

Strangely, I also really enjoyed hating Lockhart. It was wonderful of J. K. Rowling to introduce a character that we could so completely despise by the end of the book. I dare say he is even more hated then Snape. I’m also glad she took the limelight away from Snape and gave us a new character. There is only so far you can go with talking about how much a teacher sneers before it gets old. I really enjoyed how she made Lockhart interact with the other professors as well.

This book was definitely better than the first.

Overall Rating: 5

1 Comment

  1. Chamber of Secrets had a nice natural escalation for me.
    The first one was about a villain trying to “get back in gear”, while this is “the villain is back in gear”.
    The way the “threat” seems to have complete access to the setting, appearing and disappearing randomly, as if all their defenses pose no barrier to the villain, really make this a nice “horror in spirit”, while still retaining the safety often found in young adult literature.

    I agree that the gradual doling out of clues and insights was well paced. Each clue became its own little mini-adventure, echoing the style of Philosopher’s Stone.


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