Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J K Rowling
|Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J K Rowling|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Sue Fairhead|
|Summary: The second book in the Harry Potter series is perhaps not as good as the first, but contains some surprises and has a dramatic climax.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: February 1999|
|Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC|
The second volume in the Harry Potter series, unlike some of the later ones, is not a long book and I re-read it in less than a day. It's recommended for children of age 9-11 which is probably about right, though of course younger children read it (or have it read aloud to them) and many teenagers and adults enjoy it too.
The story starts in a similar way to the first, with Harry staying at his horrible relatives' home. This time he's treated slightly better than previously, until Dobby the house-elf erupts into his life and tries to convince him not to return to Hogwarts School for wizards. Disaster ensues as Nobby creates chaos in the house, until Harry is rescued in a highly unorthodox fashion by some of his friends.
Unsurprisingly he gets back to school eventually, where there are various excitements and battles. A secret is discovered, something evil unleashed, and we learn more about Harry's past from the wise headmaster, Dumbledore, who continues to be Harry's guide and adviser. He also learns a bit more about about the confrontation he is going to have to make one day against the evil Lord Voldemort...
It's a little darker than the first book, with more action, but still quite appropriate for children. Unlike the film, there's no bad language, for instance. And while Harry and friends break school rules, it's all in classic school story style: rule-breaking is quite acceptable if it's for higher purposes, such as saving lives, helping friends, or generally fulfilling the schoolchildren's code of honour. There's a bit of humour, too, to lighten the pace here and there.
Once again the 'magic' is really only a small part of the book, a background in which the story is played out. There are some surprises: I had thought the book would take a similar path to the first, when I first read it, and was pleased to find that I was wrong. There's a dramatic climax near the end, of course, but it's quite different from that in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.
I didn't like this one quite as much as the first book, but would still recommend it highly. I suspected, when reading it for the second time, that it could well have hidden significance in the finale that would be revealed eventually in the seventh book.
Further reading: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, if you haven't already read it. How To Write Really Badly by Anne Fine is another school story with a bit of humour. Skellig is a different kind of book with a bit of magic in the lives of children.
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