Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: J.K. Rowling
Publication Date: July 8, 1999
Genre: Fantasy/Middle Grade
My Rating: 5 stars
Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts is full of new dangers. A convicted murderer, Sirius Black, has broken out of Azkaban prison, and it seems he’s after Harry. Now Hogwarts is being patrolled by the dementors, the Azkaban guards who are hunting Sirius. But Harry can’t imagine that Sirius—or, for that matter, the evil Lord Voldemort—could be more frightening than the dementors themselves, who have the terrible power to fill anyone they come across with aching loneliness and despair.
Meanwhile, life continues as usual at Hogwarts. A top-of-the-line broom takes Harry’s success at Quidditch, the sport of the Wizarding world, to new heights. A cute fourth-year student catches his eye. And he becomes close with the new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher, who was a childhood friend of his father.
Yet despite the relative safety of life at Hogwarts and the best efforts of the dementors, the threat of Sirius Black grows ever closer. But if Harry has learned anything from his education in wizardry, it is that things are often not what they seem.
Tragic revelations, heartwarming surprises, and high-stakes magical adventures await the boy wizard in this funny and poignant third installment of the beloved series.
After I finished The Prisoner of Azkaban, I held it close to my chest and embraced it for a solid two minutes. Despite knowing what will transpire in later books, my heart was full and happy at the end of this book. The Prisoner of Azkaban is one of my favorite books in the series because the new characters are compelling, well-developed, and memorable; the plot is unique and fast paced; and the Quidditch scenes are hilarious because Lee Jordan is the best color commentator ever. The revelations in this book are even better than the first two books because JK Rowling is an expert at plot twists that you never see coming.
When we meet Harry again, it’s summer and he’s back with the Dursleys. This time we meet another horrible member of the Dursley family — Aunt Marge. Aunt Marge is that one relative whom you hated when they visited for the holidays, except she’s ten times worse. In just a few pages, Aunt Marge managed to show us how awful she is and that the Dursleys are all around terrible people. What transpires during Aunt Marge’s visit leads to Harry leaving the Dursley’s home and spending his final summer days at Diagon Alley.
I once worked in child welfare with abused children, so you can imagine how upsetting rereading the Dursleys behaviors have been to me. They are narrow-minded, cruel, and despicable people. While I was happy Harry left on his own, I was also extremely saddened by this because it’s easy to forget that Harry is only 13 years old. Although, Harry is a quintessential underdog in this series, this book reminded us that he’s not down and out. The Knight Bus arrived while he was stranded, and the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, was there to met him when he arrived at the Leaky Cauldron. What I found interesting in this chapter was that Cornelius Fudge excused unintended magic use in this book because of the circumstances, but didn’t know Dobby was responsible for magic use in The Chamber of Secrets.
The Prisoner of Azkaban introduces us to one of my favorite characters in the series — Sirius Black. In this book we learn about Sirius’ imprisonment, his past through gossip and rumors, and the guards that keep the prisoners in line at Azkaban. J.K. vividly describes these guards that at some point, I felt frightened. J.K. does a wonderful job developing Sirius as a mysterious and compelling character who, by the end of the book, you want to cheer for. As to other characters, we are introduced to the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor (because the turnover rate is still 100%), Remus Lupin. Professor Lupin is quite a mystery as well. So far, he is the best Defense Against The Dark Arts professor these third years have had. Lupin is intriguing and enjoyable. There are characters in this book that I still dislike and will likely continue to dislike. Snape is still the worst and Malfoy is still a bully. I wanted to fight Snape when he called Hermione a “stupid girl” and I cheered when Hermione slapped Malfoy because of an offensive remark. Hermione, in some unbelievable way, takes on more academic commitments, which greatly influenced her stress level and there are a few disagreements between Ron, Harry, and Hermione. Despite these things, they still remain squad goals.
The Prisoner of Azkaban is funny, entertaining, and unexpectedly hopeful. The writing in this book is exceptional as J.K’s writing transports you to every setting whether its through secret passageways in the castle, Quidditch matches, or Hogsmeade Village. I experienced a range of emotions reading this book. I raged. I laughed. I cried. I smiled. I raged at the Dursleys behaviors. I laughed during the Quidditch matches because Lee Jordan is hilarious. Even with knowledge of what happens next, I was excited when Harry found someone who willingly wanted to care for him and I wanted to weep when things didn’t go accordingly. I smiled when Hagrid gave Ron and Harry advice and I smiled at the end because Harry was happy and hopeful.
One thing I noticed is that this book conveys an overall message: friendship is more valuable than trivial things. Whether it’s Hermione and Hagrid; Ron, Harry, and Hermione; or other characters, this theme is consistent throughout the book. The Prisoner of Azkaban was very satisfying and I wish I could bottle the happiness I felt reading this book.
Thanks for reading!