Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

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.

Storyteller, Storyteller, Tell Me A Tale

The obvious question that is asked by my previous blog posts is “Ok, so you’re not a writer, you’re a storyteller. Well, what stories do you tell?”

I have created countless characters and plots in my head over the years, that there isn’t enough space on the internet to write them down, but the one story that has dominated for me has been that of Harry Hicks.

The idea for Harry first appeared, back in December 2002, when there was a misunderstanding about something at a family Christmas Day meal. I’m not even sure what the issue was – but I do remember it bringing quite a frosty atmosphere on the day for some period.

That is until it was explained that what had been a perceived slight on one person’s part to another person was, in fact, completely innocent and not intended at all.

This idea that reality is dependent entirely on the perception of the person experiencing it was not a new one, but it was new to me at the time. I came up with the idea of a murder mystery which presented the facts of an event from various points of views, all the facts in the story would be presented, but they wouldn’t connect, wouldn’t be resolved until the end.

That idea bubbled under while I sat my GCSEs and then started work and college. Then one day, I was re-reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (pretty much everything I do will connect back to JK Rowling at some point or another) and it struck me, how intricately plotted and rich the Potter world was. Specifically, the mentions of Sirius Black and Mrs Figg in the opening chapters of book one, despite not actually making appearances in the story until books three and five respectively.

I was in awe. I wanted to be able to write some massive mind-bending complex plot that was both entertaining and impressive. Something, that with the last chapter of the last book tied up everything and referenced back to something from the very first chapter of the first book.

It was at this point that the idea of the murder mystery came back to me and the story of Harry Hicks and the Cromwells was born. Originally dubbed the imaginative Family Affairs this would be a complex novel with hints dropped in the very first sentences and red herrings littered about all over the place. It would take careful potting.

About eight years and over a hundred thousand words later, my first novel was finished. And it had gained a new name in the process

Memories of a Murder is my first fully-fledged novel and involves rising superstar Harry Hicks visiting his boyfriend’s family home for Christmas (about the only thing left from the very original idea is that it would be set at Christmas), and while they’re there, the patriarch of the Cromwells, Ernest is brutally murdered, with every guest a suspect.

I immediately started writing a second novel continuing the adventures of Harry, but that’s another tale, for another time…