Every 3 years or so, I go up to my bookcase and my gaze falls on my Harry Potter books. And that hunger stirs within me to read those stories one more time…. especially when the late summer humidity shows up. I don’t know quite what it is about these books that make me gobble them up so quickly. Yes, I know the stories’ twists and I know they are meant for young adults (which I no longer am), and yet I pick one of these books up and find myself engrossed in the story line again. To be honest, I don’t think that J.K. Rowling is an amazing writer or a great wordsmith. And I find most of her resolutions to the battles between Harry and Voldemort feel a little like she is pulling an idea out of her rear end at the last minute to save the story. (For example, in The Philosopher’s Stone, Harry only defeats Voldemort because the phoenix suddenly flies down the sewer system. The phoenix cries his magical healing tears on Harry’s otherwise fatal snake bite, and brings the Sorting Hat which is suddenly able to produce the Gryffindor sword for Harry which is the only thing that can kill the great Basilisk snake. A little too much sudden blind luck and no real skill or magical ability used by Harry. A weak protagonist victory in my mind.) And yet even with these shortcomings, Rowling has done something special with these books. She has taken the world we are familiar with and inserted into it a creative realm with strange incantations, fun magical concepts, and an entirely new perception of our reality through the eyes of a wizarding world. Each chapter is a series of mysteries and constant action, so the excitement and suspense of the plot carries you through page after page anxiously waiting for the climatic ending. My favorite of the series is Book 4: The Goblet of Fire. We already know the backstories and the personalities of the characters, so it is like visiting with old friends. This book has that perfect balance of action and mystery as Harry participates in the Triwizard Tournament while figuring out how his name got in the goblet and knowing that Voldemort is out in the world growing in strength. The twist at the end of the third competition and the revelation of Voldemort’s plan in the graveyard is surprising and terrifying. Book 6: The Half-Blood Prince also holds a special distinction for me as I found myself on the verge of tears when I read Dumbledore’s death scene, even though this was my fourth time reading this book. Despite my view of the author’s simplistic writing style and the messy resolutions, there is something magnificent about this series and I still love tackling the 7-high book stack of the Harry Potter series.
For all: 4 out of 5 bacon strips