Monday, February 11, 2019

#YearOfHarryPotter: Chamber of Secrets, Chapters 1-4

Last week, I read the first four chapters of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: "The Worst Birthday," "Dobby's Warning," "The Burrow," and "At Flourish and Blotts." Spoilers for all of these may appear in my comments.

I was amused in the first chapter to be given a recap of the events of the previous book, something that isn't that common in children's series anymore, but which was a standard part of every Baby-sitters Club book I read as a kid. Of course, now that Harry Potter is such a phenomenon, it seems pretty unlikely that any reader coming into book two doesn't know the basics of his life story, but the recap gave me some feelings of nostalgia for the books of my childhood.

Chapter 2 brings us the first appearance of Dobby the house-elf, and the line from the movie adaptation that I repeat the most often: "Harry Potter must not go back to Hogwarts." My husband pointed out to me that Dobby is basically the Jar-Jar Binks of the Harry Potter universe, and somehow I can't look at the character the same way after considering that comparison. Still, I think Dobby's arrival is a great way to raise a lot of questions and stir up suspense - and magic - early in the story.

It was also lovely to revisit the chapter where Harry comes to the Burrow for the first time. I love everything about it - the banter among the family members, Arthur Weasley's obsession with all things Muggle, Ginny's crush on Harry, and Harry's complete love and appreciation for Ron's home and family, even though Ron is somewhat embarrassed of it all. I'd also forgotten Percy's role in the series, and there are hints even this early on about the mistakes he will make in future books.

Finally, J.K. Rowling does a great job describing Gilderoy Lockhart and the way his fans react to him. Like Dolores Umbridge, he is one of the characters from this series that I love to hate.

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