January 23, 2016

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ( Harry Potter #2 ) by J.K. Rowling - Book Review

Source: Goodreads

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All Harry Potter wants is to get away from the Dursleys and go back to 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 Lockheart, 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.

"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
I am so glad to have read this again, because I apparently forgot a lot of the events that happened in this book.

Harry, together with Ron and Hermione, is in for a semester full of adventures and misadventures (Yeah. What else is knew with Harry).

Harry, meeting Dobby in the Privet Drive, is definitely one of the first signs that this semester wouldn’t be as easy as the first one. The house elf was pleading Harry not go to Hogwarts because someone is dead set on harming him.

Harry and Ron’s first day in Hogwarts didn’t start in the right footing and almost caused Mr. Weasley his position in the Ministry of Magic. Because they are not the smartest of the lot, when they realized they can’t get through platform 9 ¾, they decided to use the flying car which was charmed by Mr. Weasley.

Interesting facts were unearthed and would give the readers a glimpse of what to expect for the next series. It will give clues as to who really was Lord Voldemort before he became a powerful dark arts wizard. It will also be able to show how much will Harry really has. He may not be the smartest wizard in their class but he’s got determination and courage to fight even the most dangerous beast.

I was partly annoyed and amused with the appearance of the new professor, Gilderoy Lockheart. He was the replacement of Professor Quirell. “According to him” he is an Order of Merlin, Third Class, Honorary Member of the Dark Force Defense League, and five-time winner of Witch Weekly’s Most-Charming-Smile Award. I haven’t met any character as narcissistic as him. Oh my God! He’s the vainest teacher ever. He’s the newest Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor in Hogwarts but a few days into his job, and he had me convinced he’s was just there to gather compliments and make himself cute. Urgh. He might be famous for all the books he had published regarding his achievements in defeating several monsters but he’s just that. All talk. He doesn’t walk the talk though. An impostor at its finest.

Obviously, the story is centered on the Chamber of Secrets as the title says. It was Professor Flitwick who shed the light as to what it really is. 

The Hogwarts was founded over a thousand years ago – the precise date is uncertain – by the four greatest witches and wizards of the age. The four school Houses are named after them: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin. They built this castle together, far from prying Muggle eyes, for it was an age when magic was feared by common people, and witches and wizards suffered much persecution.

For a few years, the founders worked in harmony together, seeking out youngsters who showed signs of magic and bringing them to the castle to be educated. But then disagreements sprang up between them. A rift began to grow between Slytherin and the others. Slytherin wished to be more selective about the students admitted to Hogwarts. He believed that magical learning should be kept within all-magic families. He disliked taking students of Muggle parentage, believing them to be untrustworthy. After a while, there was a serious argument on the subject between Slytherin and Gryffindor, and Slytherin left the school.

The story goes that Slytherin had built a hidden chamber in the castle, of which the other founders new nothing.

Slytherin sealed the Chamber of Secrets so that none would be able to open it until his own true heir arrived at the school. The heir alone would be able to unseal the Chamber of Secrets, unleash the horror within, and use it to purge the school of all who were unworthy to study magic.   

The basilisk will make its appearance here as the monster created by Slytherin.

Of the many fearsome beasts and monsters that roam our land, there is none more curious or more deadly than the Basilisk, also known as the King of Serpents. This snake, which may reach gigantic size and live many hundreds of years, is born from a chicken’s egg, hatched beneath a toad. Its method of killing are most wondrous, for aside from its deadly and venomous fangs, the Basilisk has a murderous stare, and all who are fixed with the beam of its eye shall suffer instant death. Spiders flee before the Basilisk, for it is their mortal enemy, and the Basilisk flees only from the crowning of the rooster, which is fatal to it.

The book will also show us a glimpse of the young Hagrid who was so fascinated with monster pets. It will explain what really went down and why he got expelled in the Hogwarts. 

It shows the importance of loyalty, faith in people you believe in, believing in yourself, friendship, courage, determination and honesty. It also emphasizes that the “What you see is what you get.” Quote doesn’t apply to all. Appearances can be deceiving sometimes. It also reminds us no to be judgmental. That there might be a reason why a certain person acts differently. That we should fight for what is right. That we shouldn’t let the opinions of others reflect how we see ourselves. It also shows that greediness, more often than not, will do you more harm than good.

I am truly impressed with how Harry tackled the problems. Of almost sacrificing himself if it would mean, finally sealing the Chamber of Secrets. I love how he can be so loyal to his loved ones that he would fight tooth and nail for them. There was this scene while they (Gilderoy & Ron) were inside the chamber and he was trying to be brave even when it was evident that he was shaking with fear
“What now?” Ron’s voice said, sounding desperate. “We can’t get through – it’ll take ages.”
“Wait there,” he called to Ron. “Wait with Lockhart. I’ll go on…If I’m not back in an hour…”
There was a very pregnant pause.
“I’ll try and shift some of this rock,” said Ron, who seemed to be trying to keep his voice steady. “So you can – can get back through. And, Harry - ”
“See you in a bit,” said Harry, trying to inject some confidence into his shaking voice.
I also loved how he defended Albus Dumbledore when Tom taunted him. I loved how he firmly thought that Hagrid isn’t the real culprit. I loved how in times of crisis, he doesn’t think of the dangers he might face, but on how he’d solve or beat the problem. Some might see him as a weakling, but as the story progresses, his prowess will be showing slowly. He’s just a little boy who is still in search of himself. He is still doubting himself but he is getting there, little by little, he’d believe in his abilities.

Ron, as funny as he seems, show how loyal and brave he is. He might be a little reluctant but when someone he loves is in danger, he is ready to let go of his fear. He might appear as just Harry’s sidekick, but he is courageous. It just takes a little persuasion for it to come out.


Wait for my review of Prizoner of Azkaban. Thanks for reading!

Trivias

  1. Floo Powder – a powder used by witches and wizards to travel. A person takes a pinch of the glittering powder, step up to the fire, and throw the powder into the flames. When the fire turns into emerald green and rises higher, the person steps right into it, and shouts where he wants to go.
  2. Knockturn Alley - is a shopping area off Diagon Alley in London. It is filled with lots of shops devoted to the Dark Arts, including Borgin and Burkes, which specialises in objects that have curious and strong magical properties. Usually, unusual, dangerous and scary people walk around there.
  3. Whomping Willow - is a very valuable, very violent species of magical plant. Whomping Willows will attack anyone and anything that comes within range of its branches. A deciduous plant, its limbs function as arms and any damage to them must be treated in much the same way. 
  4. Howler - is a magical letter in a red envelope which enchants the written message into the writer's voice, usually at a very high volume. Once the message has been received, the envelope bursts into flames, leaving only ashes.
  5. Mandrake or Mandragora – is a powerful restorative. It is used to return people who have been transfigured or cursed to their original state. The cry of a Mandrake is fatal to anyone who hears it. It’s roots look like a small, muddy, and extremely ugly baby popped out of the earth. The leaves were growing right out of its head. It had pale green, mottled skin, and was clearly bowling at the top of his lung. 
  6. The Engorgement Charm (Engorgio) is a charm that causes the target to swell immensely. Hagrid used it to grow the pumpkins for Halloween.
  7. Pepperup Potion is a potion which cures the common cold. It has the side-effect of causing steam to come out of the drinker's ears for several hours after it is imbibed. 
  8. Polyjuice Potion is a potion that allows the drinker to assume the form of someone else. It's a complicated and challenging potion that even adult witches and wizards struggle to brew correctly. The potion is incredibly advanced and has two separate parts that contain steps for each part, when brewing is complete the potion has to stew for a month before usage.
  9. Skele-Gro is a dreadful-tasting potion which causes vanished or otherwise lost bones to regrow in a notably slow and painful process. 
  10. Dueling Club - was a club at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, founded with the intention of teaching the students of Hogwarts how to duel should they find themselves in a hostile situation. It was founded by Gilderoy Lockhart. 
  11. Expelliarmus – also known as the Disarming Charm was a defensive charm which forced the victim to release whatever they were holding at the time. 
  12. Rictusempra – or the Tickling Charm is a spell that causes a victim to buckle with laughter. It also has at least two other side effects on the victim. 
  13. Tarantallegra – or the Dancing Feet Spell is a charm used to force another person's legs to begin dancing uncontrollably. 
  14. Finite Incantatem – or the General Counter-Spell is a counter-spell for general use.
  15. Serpensortia – or the Snake Summons Spell s a transfiguration spell that conjures a snake from the tip of the wand.
  16. Obliviate - A Memory Charm, also known as Lockhart Memory Charm or Forgetfulness Charm is a spell that can be used to erase memories from an individual's mind.
  17. Parselmouth – is the language of the snakes. Salazar Slytherin was famous for this ability. People who speak it are called Serpent-tongue.
  18. Phoenix – It is a crimson bird the size of a swan. It has a glittering golden tail as long as a peacock and golden gleaming talons. It bursts into flame when it is time for them to die and are reborn from the ashes. Its tears are believed to have healing powers.
  19. Tom Marvolo Riddle – was a very intelligent student of his time and had been the Head Boy of Slytherin before. He was born to a Muggle father and a Witch mother. He was orphaned at a young age and had to live in a Muggle Orphanage during the holidays. He will later on be known as Lord Voldemort.
  20. Aragog – Hagrid’s spider pet that had caused him to be expelled in the Hogwarts. It grew to be the size of a small elephant. There was gray in the black of his body and legs, and each of the eyes on his ugly pincered head was milky white. He’s blind.
 Source (1-16): Harry Potter Wikia

 

J.K. Rowling 
Although she writes under the pen name J.K. Rowling, pronounced like rolling, her name when her first Harry Potter book was published was simply Joanne Rowling. Anticipating that the target audience of young boys might not want to read a book written by a woman, her publishers demanded that she use two initials, rather than her full name. As she had no middle name, she chose K as the second initial of her pen name, from her paternal grandmother Kathleen Ada Bulgen Rowling. She calls herself Jo and has said, "No one ever called me 'Joanne' when I was young, unless they were angry." Following her marriage, she has sometimes used the name Joanne Murray when conducting personal business. During the Leveson Inquiry she gave evidence under the name of Joanne Kathleen Rowling. In a 2012 interview, Rowling noted that she no longer cared that people pronounced her name incorrectly.

Rowling was born to Peter James Rowling, a Rolls-Royce aircraft engineer, and Anne Rowling (née Volant), on 31 July 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, England, 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Bristol. Her mother Anne was half-French and half-Scottish. Her parents first met on a train departing from King's Cross Station bound for Arbroath in 1964. They married on 14 March 1965. Her mother's maternal grandfather, Dugald Campbell, was born in Lamlash on the Isle of Arran. Her mother's paternal grandfather, Louis Volant, was awarded the Croix de Guerre for exceptional bravery in defending the village of Courcelles-le-Comte during the First World War.

Rowling's sister Dianne was born at their home when Rowling was 23 months old. The family moved to the nearby village Winterbourne when Rowling was four. She attended St Michael's Primary School, a school founded by abolitionist William Wilberforce and education reformer Hannah More. Her headmaster at St Michael's, Alfred Dunn, has been suggested as the inspiration for the Harry Potter headmaster Albus Dumbledore.

As a child, Rowling often wrote fantasy stories, which she would usually then read to her sister. She recalls that: "I can still remember me telling her a story in which she fell down a rabbit hole and was fed strawberries by the rabbit family inside it. Certainly the first story I ever wrote down (when I was five or six) was about a rabbit called Rabbit. He got the measles and was visited by his friends, including a giant bee called Miss Bee." At the age of nine, Rowling moved to Church Cottage in the Gloucestershire village of Tutshill, close to Chepstow, Wales. When she was a young teenager, her great aunt, who Rowling said "taught classics and approved of a thirst for knowledge, even of a questionable kind," gave her a very old copy of Jessica Mitford's autobiography, Hons and Rebels. Mitford became Rowling's heroine, and Rowling subsequently read all of her books.

Rowling has said of her teenage years, in an interview with The New Yorker, "I wasn’t particularly happy. I think it’s a dreadful time of life." She had a difficult homelife; her mother was ill and she had a difficult relationship with her father (she is no longer on speaking terms with him). She attended secondary school at Wyedean School and College, where her mother had worked as a technician in the science department. Rowling said of her adolescence, "Hermione [a bookish, know-it-all Harry Potter character] is loosely based on me. She's a caricature of me when I was eleven, which I'm not particularly proud of." Steve Eddy, who taught Rowling English when she first arrived, remembers her as "not exceptional" but "one of a group of girls who were bright, and quite good at English." Sean Harris, her best friend in the Upper Sixth owned a turquoise Ford Anglia, which she says inspired the one in her books.



Read my Review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Book Review

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