Earlier this year, I re-read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and have now progressed onto it’s sequel Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
I’ve previously stated that my copy of Philosopher’s Stone was the oldest thing I owned, but actually, it strikes me as I begin writing this review that it’s actually a tie with Chamber of Secrets – getting them both for my birthday, shortly after Chamber of Secret was published.
I remember being slightly disappointed at the time, because CoS wasn’t quite as good as PS (two paragraphs in and I’ve resorted to one of those people who use acronyms), so it seems strange reading it all these years later from a different perspective
Chamber of Secrets shows a slightly more comfortable Harry, and actually it feels like JK Rowling is slightly more comfortable with the writing, flowing a little more naturally, and being ever so slightly more grown-up.
It’s also interesting how much in here sets the tone for later books. The first of Voldemort’s Horcruxes that would play a pivotal part in the seventh book is introduced and destroyed here, but also is the first clue that Harry himself is a Horcrux.
When Harry talks to Dumbledore at the end of the book about being able to speak Parseltongue, the older wizard implies that it was a gift from Voldemort himself.
Unless I’m much mistaken, he transferred some of his own powers to you the night he gave you that scar. Not something he intended to do, I’m sure…
If he didn’t know before, Dumbledore surely realises at this point that Harry is a Horcrux and that one day Harry would have to die in order for Voldemort to truly be banished. As a reader knowing this, it may put a different angle on how Dumbledore behaves in subsequent books.
I think the reason I liked it less at the time was because, rather than a new villain, Voldemort was back in a slightly different form. As an eleven year old, it felt like a cop-out for the heir of Slytherin to be the same guy that caused all the trouble in the first book.
Later, around the time of books four and five, Chamber of Secrets felt the weakest, because in comparison to the others, nothing actually happens. There is no advancement of the story. Philosopher’s Stone had a confrontation with the real thing, and Azkaban had the reveal of Scabbers and introduction of Sirius Black, while Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix had the return of Voldemort and the beginning of the war.
In comparison, Chamber of Secrets was a meaningless romp, but in hindsight it sets up a lot of things that come into play in the later books.
All these years later, I’ve changed my mind, far from being one of the weakest books in the series, it may be one of the best.
There’s one thing I haven’t changed my mind about though: Dobby.
Can’t stand him.
Talk about ending on a bombshell.