by J.K. Rowling
“Remember, if the time should come when you have to make a choice between what is right and what is easy, remember what happened to a boy who was good, and kind, and brave, because he strayed across the path of Lord Voldemort. Remember Cedric Diggory.”
This is where everything changes: from the last chapters of this volume onwards, Harry Potter gets dark and stops being a series of childrens‘ books. This is the last book where the wizarding world is most of all a place of wonder and fascination and not a world threatened by darkness. And this is the book where Harry himself stops being a child.
“Don’t talk to me.“
„Because I want to fix that in my memory for ever. Draco Malfoy, the amazing bouncing ferret…”
“Who’re you going with, then?“ said Ron.
„Angelina,“ said Fred promptly, without a trace of embarrassment.
„What?“ said Ron, taken aback. „You’ve already asked her?“
„Good point,“ said Fred. He turned his head and called across the common room, „Oi! Angelina!“
Angelina, who had been chatting with Alicia Spinnet near the fire, looked over at him.
„What?“ She called back.
„Want to come to the ball with me?“
Angelina gave Fred a sort of appraising look.
„All right, then,“ she said, and she turned back to Alicia and carried on chatting with a bit of a grin on her face.
„There you go,“ said Fred to Harry and Ron, „piece of cake.”
There are still moments like these, there’s still a lot of Hogwarts innocence and there’s also the embodiment of teensy romances, the Yule Ball, but this book is darker. Right from the start when Harry witnesses the murder of an old muggle and wakes up because his scar hurts, we know that this is darker. Trelawney’s propecy from Prisoner of Azkaban is unfolding itself, and we know, right from the moment Wormtail turns that chair in the Riddle’s old home around, that this will not have a happy ending – and that more murder and darkness is coming.
“What would come, would come…and you would have to meet it, when it did.”
But before we come to its terrifying conclusion, this book introduces a lot of new information about the wizarding world. Where we only got glimpses of it other than Hogwarts and Diagon Alley, there are far more details here: the Quidditch World Cup introduces international wizards, the highly objective Rita Skeeter articles introduce the importance of the media, and the Triwizard Tournament (the most useless spectator event ever!) introduces other magical schools. Regarding the tournament: just why would you plan it like this? Apart from the first task, the spectators just sit there and stare at the Black Lake and a maze without having any clue what’s happening inside. I mean, come on. Why would you do that?
Anyway, apart from the word-building, lots of new characters are introduced, from Beauxbatons schoolgirls to gruesome Death Eaters. While Voldy is still the big antagonist, we get to know a lot about his followers here: one wizard alone can’t be a serious threat to wizardkind, not even one as powerful as Voldy, he needs followers who are just as evil as himself. So this is the book with Bellatrix Lestrange and all those other lunatics in it, the one with the Death Eaters‘ past crimes. Poor Alice and Frank.
“Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right.“
If I look at this series, this is probably my least favourite one apart from Chamber of Secrets, because there was so much useless stuff happening: all of those people treating Harry like shit because his name came out of the Cup, the big Harry vs. Ron clash, the Yule Ball and all those hormones flying around, and the sheer unnecessary complication of Voldy’s nefarious plan -I mean, come on. Why make it this complicated?
Of course, I still love it. I love how it all comes together, I love the ferret-scene, I love Harry’s extraordinary bravery in that graveyard, and I love the intensity of all of it…five stars.