Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
'In a brief statement on Friday night, Minister for Magic Cornelius Fudge confirmed that He Who Must Not Be Named has returned to this country and is once more active. "It is with great regret that I must confirm that the wizard styling himself Lord - well, you know who I mean - is alive and among us again," said Fudge.' These dramatic words appeared in the final pages of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In the midst of this battle of good and evil, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince takes up the story of Harry Potter's sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, with Voldemort's power and followers increasing day by day.
So I finally get to my favourite installment - Half-Blood Prince.
It's a shame that Order of the Phoenix was such a disappointment - it made many people give up on the series, and they didn't manage to make it to this chapter in the Harry Potter saga. It's full of love, heartbreak and betrayal. It illuminates mysteries we've previously been dwelling on, and it brings new puzzles to the fore. It's the darkest installment yet, and it opens the way for the final novel perfectly.
My favourite thing about this book is the insight we get into Voldemort's past. I found the stories of his parents and their families fascinating, and I also enjoyed reading about the Dark Lord's young life. There were many similarities in Harry's childhood, and I found each of these incredibly enlightening.
I also loved the way Voldemort's past was brought to light. What better way to explain the past than through a vessel used to store memories? The Pensieve is an ingenious plot device, I really do love it. It allows us to personally witness important events where Harry wouldn't have been present. This also allows Harry to remain as our viewpoint character, and allows the plot to remain consistent.
Harry and Ginny's relationship also comes to a head in the novel, with them finally getting together. I have to admit this pairing is one I've never really been truly convinced by. I always thought there was something a bit off about it, and this time around I've realised what it is. Harry is always likened to his father in both looks and behaviour. His mother was described as having red hair and a fiery temperament, which can also be said of Ginny. Isn't this awfully Freudian? I am perhaps reading too much into things, but I did mention Freud before, in my review of Chamber of Secrets. I passed the suggestions off as rubbish there, but apparently there are more hints such as these throughout the books that I haven't noticed. Perhaps it's something to look into in future.
This novel, of course, is the one that gives us the death of Dumbledore, which broke my little heart. The emotion of it lasts from the instant of his death until the end of the novel, and it stays with you afterwards. Dumbledore has been protecting Harry for six years, and now the floor has fallen out from underneath him. He has no one left who can protect him completely and it'll be in Book Seven where we see how he copes with this.
I'd like to close with a tribute to Dumbledore. He was my favourite!
And now I move onto the final installment! Dark and difficult times lie ahead.
34 / 66 books. 52% done!