Friday, April 26, 2019

#YearOfHarryPotter: Goblet of Fire, Chapters 1-4

I have read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire exactly once in my life before this, so I've really been looking forward to this re-read. Last week, I read chapters 1 to 4 ("The Riddle House," "The Scar," "The Invitation," and "Back to the Burrow.")

I have always thought of this book as the turning point in the series where everything starts to get a bit deeper, darker, and more mature. Reading the first chapter, though, I also noticed a change for the better  in the quality of the writing. The opening chapter is very different from the beginnings of the first three books, starting with a scene in which a Muggle overhears Voldemort and Wormtail having an argument. This is a much more engaging way to start the book than simply dropping in on Harry as he suffers through another summer with the Dursleys.

I also like the fact that, from the start, the reader knows more than Harry does about the reasons his scar is hurting. Though it sometimes makes me feel anxious to know something a character doesn't, in this case prior knowledge is helpful because it makes the stakes clear, helps us to know that Harry should be taken seriously, and gives the story an undercurrent of suspense leading up to Voldemort's return to power at the end of the book.

I had forgotten completely about the Weasleys coming to Privet Drive and trying to use floo powder in the Dursleys' blocked-up fireplace. I love any scene where all the Weasleys are together, and this one is especially amusing because of how unfamiliar (and fascinated) they are with the Muggle way of life. I'm a little bit weary of the fat jokes at Dudley's expense, so I wasn't that enamored of the way Fred and George tricked him, but there is still something so comforting about the idea of this big, loving family sweeping in to whisk Harry away to the Quidditch world cup.

Speaking of the Quidditch world cup, that's up next! I'm looking forward to revisiting that setting. A big part of my enjoyment of these books is the world-building, and lots of details about wizarding life come out as Harry observes the crowds. Similarly, I'm looking forward to the introduction of the other wizarding schools that will participate in the Tri-Wizard Tournament.

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