Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
Harry is returning to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry after the summer holidays and, right from the start, things are not straightforward. Unable to board the Hogwarts express, Harry and his friends break all the rules and make their way to the school in a magical flying car. From this point on, incredible events happen to Harry and his friends--Harry hears evil voices and someone, or something is attacking the pupils. Can Harry get to the bottom of the mystery before it's too late?
This was just as delightful as the first, full of mystery, intrigue, and most of all, heart!
It is amazing how light and fun-filled these earlier installments seem to be when thinking about later episodes in Harry's life, and how horrifically dark these turn out to be. Despite Harry's run-ins with Lord Voldemort in the first couple of books, it really does all seem very jolly, ha-ha, Quidditchy in the beginning. I like this to an extent, as it's nice to see Harry having a pleasant(ish) childhood before things start to get messy. I don't like the feeling of sheer dread that comes with this, though, knowing what the poor boy will have to go through in a few years time (not to mention how emotionally distressing I always seem to find it, no matter how many times I have been through exactly the same events in the past).
Again, Rowling's imagination is fantastic here, and I can't praise her characters enough. We are introduced to Gilderoy Lockhart, who is obessed with his own fame and incredibly self-absorbed. Rowling has written him in such a way that we can completely identify with him - after all, there is a Gilderoy Lockhart imitation in everyone's life.
I particularly like this novel because Harry destroys the diary. I wouldn't want to go into detail and risk posting a huge spoiler; however I am sure the most Potter-hardcore of those who read my blog will know how monumental a moment this is on Harry's journey - even if he doesn't know it yet.
It's the little things that make the books work. De-gnoming at the Burrow, Floo powder, Howlers, Valentines dwarves, broken wands, flying cars - the Whomping Willow! It's all so exciting and different, yet glaringly believable. I cannot fault the stories at all.
Onwards, upwards, and further into the wizardly darkness I go.