Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Title: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Author: J.K. Rowling
Publication Date: July 16, 2005
Genre: Fantasy | Middle Grade
Rating: 5 stars

There it was, hanging in the sky above the school: the blazing green skull with a serpent tongue, the mark Death Eaters left behind whenever they had entered a building… wherever they had murdered…

When Dumbledore arrives at Privet Drive one summer night to collect Harry potter, his wand hand is blackened and shrivelled, but he does not reveal why. Secrets and suspicion are spreading through the wizarding world, and Hogwarts itself is not safe. Harry is convinced that Malfoy bears the Dark Mark: there is a Death Eater amongst them. Harry will need powerful magic and true friends as he explores Voldemort’s darkest secrets, and Dumbledore prepares him to face his destiny.

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is probably my second favorite book in the Harry Potter series. Even though it took me forever to read because I got really busy with school commitments and it’s not filled with as much action as the previous books, I enjoyed it immensely.

This book was really interesting because JK incorporated MULTIPLE genres to tell this story. She sprinkled a dash of true crime to provide a psychological profiling of Voldemort (talk about someone who meets the DSM criteria of a psychopath), a dash of mystery, and a whole lot of fantasy. She also seemed to switch some roles. Harry went from underdog in the first 5 books to “The Chosen One”, star pupil, and captain of his Quidditch team. Meanwhile, Draco Malfoy became a little more conflicted and complex, which made him way more interesting. Before this, Draco wasn’t the nuanced character I had hoped he could be. He was just a flat out a privileged bully. The Half-Blood Prince added layers to his character.


“Let us step into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure.” ― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

In the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore arrives at Privet Drive to take Harry to the Burrow (Weasley family home) and had the conversation with the Dursleys that should’ve taken place 16 years ago, or at least after Harry arrived at Hogwarts. After leaving Privet Drive, Harry and Dumbledore apparate to an unknown location where we meet Horace Slughorn, a retired Hogwarts professor. Harry convinces Slughorn to return to Hogwarts. During this outing Harry notices Dumbledore’s blackened hand; however, Dumbledore is not ready to share this story with Harry. Harry also learns that he will be meeting with Dumbledore for private lessons during the year.

While visiting Fred and George’s shop in Diagon Alley, Harry sees Draco Malfoy going into Borgin and Burkes and suspects that he is a Death Eater. When Harry arrives at Hogwarts at the start of the term, he learns that Professor Slughorn will take his previous post as the Potions professor and Snape will take over the most coveted and cursed teaching position at Hogwarts: Defense Against the Dark Arts. Harry spends most of his 6th year at Hogwarts investigating his suspicions that Draco is a Death Eater. He shares his suspicions with all the right people, but no one really takes him seriously. On the other hand, Harry’s social and academic life are flourishing. Harry becomes the star pupil in Professor Slughorn’s class with assistance from notes written in the textbook by the Half-Blood Prince, the previous owner of Harry’s Potions book.

One thing this book does extremely well is provide information about Voldemort’s background. At it’s core, the Half-Blood Prince was a criminal profiling of Voldemort. We learned about his parentage, his childhood, and his time at Hogwarts from Dumbledore and the memories of the few people who interacted with him. Voldemort tortured children his age, collected trophies, and craved power more than anything from a very early age. Rowling does an AMAZING job describing the scenes from each memory and I felt like I was there every step of the way. Past Voldemort is just as scary as present-day Voldemort.

Dumbledore and Harry’s private lessons and any chapter that involved Dumbledore were the most emotionally mature scenes. After the events of the Order of the Phoenix, this book mended the relationship between Harry and Dumbledore.Dumbledore was vulnerable and I loved everything about him in this book. I didn’t want it to end. I wanted more time with him. It’s unfortunate that we only got a glimpse of this relationship only in this book. Dumbledore is wise and hands down the greatest wizard. Imagine how much more Harry could have learned if they had more time together. I wish we could get a series about Dumbledore’s rise to greatness.

I didn’t want to read those last few chapters of The Half-Blood Prince because I was starting to feel a deep sense of sadness that it was almost over. I truly enjoyed Harry and Dumbledore’s dynamics in this book. It was something I looked forward to. They worked together as peers and it was such a redemptive arc for Dumbledore and Harry’s relationship. This book was an emotionally intense. I was STRESSED even though I knew what to expect in those final chapters. I was deeply sadden by everything that transpired in the tower and afterwards. I’m still sad about it.

Overall, the Half-Blood Prince has a special place in my heart. It’s probably the most mature of the books and it completely removes any safety nets for our hero with Dumbledore’s death. The Half-Blood Prince showcased JK’s brilliance in planning this series. Everything about horcruxes was perfectly laid out or at least hinted at in the previous books. There was a lot of focus on the past, the characters’ social life and romance in this book than previous books. I’m not ready for this ride to end. I’m not ready for the heartbreak that is The Deathly Hallows.

Thanks for reading!

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