Monday, 31 March 2008

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

I am completely sold on the Harry Potter phenomenon. Not enough (it has to be said) to be lining up on the day of release to buy my copy of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows', although this is mostly because *my* copies of books 1 to 6 are paperback and I don't want to spoil the set with a hardback! I have only read this final chapter through the generosity of one of my work colleagues, who has lent me her hardback copy, as I wait for the paperback to come out (probably later this year).

It would have been nice to have worked up to reading 'The Deathly Hallows' by reading the first 6 books again. It's been over a year since I read 'The Half-blood Prince' for the first and only time and I don't have as good recollection of that volume as I do of books 1 to 5 (which I have read multiple times). Instead, I inhaled 'The Deathly Hallows' during a time of extreme busy-ness, my little luxury in the middle of the night (and it only took one).

I came to the book unspoilt to the final outcome and was glad to be so (and therefore will try not spoil others). Ultimately I was very happy with the outcome of the book. The narrative is quite surprising, completely missing the school-bound structure of the previous books, with the children's arrival at Hogwarts, Christmas break, exams etc. It's a very dark book, although to be honest I still found Harry's interactions with Dolores Umbridge in book 5 to be the darkest of all J. K. Rowling's writing. Still, people die. Good people die, and unfairly too. From that respect Rowling pulls very few punches and no character can be considered 'safe' from harm. Happily, 'The Deathly Hallows' does not suffer from the bloat of book five (and to a lesser extent books 4 and 6) and I think every one of my favorite minor characters makes an appearance for one final goodbye. In particular, I was so happy to read Neville's role in the final battle.

My opinion of the final epilogue appears to be similar to that of others - that it was largely unnecessary and not a little irritating. However, it did allow platform 9 and 3/4 to be visited one final time. I am unlikely to continue the Harry Potter story by reading fan fiction, etc, and so for me it is all finally over. However, I look forward to rereading the series as a whole (once I get my own copy of book 7!) and, of course, the final two movies.

Finally, I cannot recommend Tansy Rayner Roberts summary of 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows', printed over at ASiF!, highly enough. Tansy *did* read 'The Deathly Hallows' within hours of its release and reviewed it within a day. Not wanting to be spoiled, I'd waited to read her summary until I'd read the final book. The wait was worth it.

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