Review: Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets

Title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Author: J.K. Rowling
Publication Date: July 2, 1998
Genre: Fantasy/Middlegrade
Rating: 4.5 stars

The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny. But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone, or something, starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects: Harry Potter himself?

Going into this reread, I wasn’t very excited about The Chamber of Secrets because it’s always been my least favorite book in the series. After rereading, I would say it’s still my least favorite book; however, I found it to be much more entertaining than I remembered. J.K.’s writing is just as magical and descriptive as it was in The Sorcerer’s Stone, the characters (old and new) are memorable, the world-building is exquisite as she introduces new spells and reveals new things, but getting there was kind of slow. The further I dived into The Chamber of Secrets, I couldn’t help but think I would’ve dropped out of wizarding school if I were a Hogwarts student because the school just isn’t safe anymore.

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The Chamber of Secrets picks up right at the tail end of Harry’s summer break. Harry is living with the horrible, loathsome, piece of [expletive] Dursleys and a few weeks away from returning to Hogwarts for his second year. One evening, Harry gets a visit from a house elf, Dobby, who tries to convince him not to return to Hogwarts because danger awaits him there. Dobby’s visit goes awry and the Dursleys learn that Harry is not permitted to practice magic outside of Hogwarts because he’s an underage wizard. As the terrible human beings that they are, the Dursleys locked Harry in his room, placed bars on his windows, and feed him through a cat-flap. Even though I know the Dursleys are loathsome human beings, I couldn’t help but rant about the lack of adult intervention to protect Harry from child abuse. I wish Dumbledore got involved and communicated directly with the muggles. What happens after this is quite an adventure as Harry tries to return to Hogwarts.

In this book we meet the new Defense Against The Dark Arts professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, because the turnover rate in that position is obviously 100%. I completely forgot how annoying, egotistical, and irritating Gilderoy Lockhart was. I was irritated whenever he showed up in a scene and I couldn’t wait for him to leave because he is a presumptuous and vexing character.  I understood Harry’s reaction and could relate to how he felt each time he interacted with Lockhart. On the opposite side of that, I was pleasantly surprised that I liked Ginny Weasley. My opinion of Ginny has always been clouded by the final book in the series and by the movies; however, I found Ginny more interesting and well-rounded than I remembered. I empathized with her and that had to be because of J.K.’s writing and because I’m older now. I also enjoyed learning a little more about Hagrid and learning about Hogwarts’ history. The more we learned about Hagrid, the more I’m convinced Hagrid is severely underrated and unappreciated.

Even though The Chamber of Secrets is my least favorite book in the series, I realized how important and crucial this book is to the rest of the series. This book sets the stage for significant events and twists in later books, which J.K. Rowling is an expert at. It’s obvious that friendship and love is a theme in this series and J.K. does a fantastic job demonstrating what Harry, Hermione, and Ron mean to each other. She does an amazing job developing their friendship, balancing plot, and character development. I love books about friendship and family, so it was beautiful to see the sacrifices they made for each other, especially when the characters courageously faced personal fears to help one another. I often talk about Harry and Hermione’s bravery, but this book reminded me that Ron was always just as brave. The Chamber of Secrets isn’t the most exciting or action-pack book in the series, but it’s entertaining and does a wonderful job of furthering the series along.

Thanks for reading!


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