Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J K Rowling
|Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J K Rowling|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Sue Fairhead|
|Summary: A lengthy Quidditch match, and an exciting tournament are the main focus of this lengthy book, which ends with a dark and somewhat distressing graveyard scene.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 636||Date: July 2001|
|Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC|
When this book was first published, I read it aloud to my teenage sons, and didn't really like it. I particularly felt that the ending was too dark for a children's book, but thought the rest of it a bit dull too. The first section of the book is about Harry seeing the Quidditch World Cup, and the rest about the Tri-Wizard Tournament that takes place at Hogwarts, with a series of difficult tests for four contestants from different schools.
But JK Rowling is worth a re-read, it seems. I wasn't at all bored by reading it to myself, a few years later. Indeed, despite its length (over 600 page) I completed it in two days. Reading it with hindsight was helpful too: there were no clever surprises, as there were on the first reading; instead I could see where clues were dropped and how cleverly the plot hangs together. And of course, it doesn't drag on so long when reading to oneself!
Reading it directly after the earlier books, I could see the series as a whole and this episode as vital in the development of the overall plot. Lord Voldemort was apparently killed when he tried in vain to kill Harry as a baby, but gradually he makes his comeback, and in this book becomes a frighteningly real presence. That's not to say the whole book is full of horror - far from it. There are moments of humour, and encouragement too. We meet the evil dementors, who will - if given the chance - suck the soul out of people. But we also meet the wonderful patronuses, a bit like guardian angels.
Harry and friends are beginning to grow up in this book. There are a few hints about hormones and girl-boy relationships, though far less than would be expected from typical books about 14-year-olds. But it makes it possibly more suitable to an older audience than the earlier books, which were recommended for age 9-11. I would put this more in the 12-15 category myself, but of course it's read and enjoyed by people of all ages, from seven to well over seventy.
I still think the ending is dark. Very dark. It involves a relatively minor character being killed and some rather unpleasant graveyard scenes. When the movie was released, I decided not to go and see it. So although I recommend it generally - preferably after reading the first three - I wouldn't recommend this book for sensitive younger children.
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