Review: ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’ (‘Harry Potter’, #2) by J.K. Rowling (illust. Jim Kay)

“…even underage wizards are allowed to use magic if it’s a real emergency, section nineteen or something of the Restriction of Thingy…”

Rating:

4/5 paper planes

What’s This Book About?

Genre: Contemporary fantasy (children/YA)

Synopsis: All Harry Potter wanted that dreadful summer was to get back to Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Despite being warned against it by a strange, impish creature named Dobby, Harry returns to school…and disaster strikes.

Fresh torments in Harry’s second year pale in comparison to the real trouble brewing. Someone – or something – is attacking the students. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose murky past is finally revealed? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects . . . Harry Potter himself?

What I Thought:

Well, I should probably start by making it clear that it’s impossible for me to give a negative review of one of the Harry Potter books. They’re all cooked up to the gourmet recipe of brilliant humour, fantasy magic, plot twists, thrilling mysteries, wonderful friendships and moments both heartwarming and heartwrenching. They’re my childhood held between the gloriously illustrated covers courtesy of Jim Kay, and I friggin love them.

The friendship between Harry and Ron (plus Ron’s family) was cute in Book 1, but the ‘found family’ aspect is so clear in CoS. It’s wholesome and adorable, and Rowling has written such a wonderful dynamic between Harry and the Weasleys (who are, hands-down, my favourite fictional family!). Ron Weasley himself is actually such a standout character too. I’ve been noticing more and more that his film persona has been robbed of much of his wit, wizarding knowledge (so many lines given to other characters) and character depth in general!

I liked that we see more of the other Houses’ students, but the Slytherins – apart from Malfoy – still felt one-dimensional. Plus Snape’s a git as usual. It’s like they’re destined to be evil or something…do they ALL have to be a) bullies and/or b)thuggish and ugly?? At least the Hufflepuffs got more nuance!

The mystery in CoS is a good deal more chilling than Book 1’s. Things get serious, and quickly too.

Her skeleton will lie in the Chamber for ever.
That staffroom scene always gives me goosebumps! However, I can’t stop comparing the climax scene to the way they did it in the movie (spoiler alert: I preferred the movie version) but the book’s version was still pretty good – just over a bit too quickly. I still remain confused as to how the Big Bad B managed to get out??? The attacks all sounded like they happened in different places, and I thought it was only be able to get out at one exit in the entire friggin’ castle. We need a map of Hogwarts at the front of the books!! In the illustrated ones at least!!

The illustrations are gorgeous as usual. Kay really excels at doing wideframe shots of buildings; his rendering of the light hitting stone at different times of the day is beautifully atmospheric. I’m physically unable to look at most of the artwork for the ‘Aragog’ chapter, but kudos to Kay for managing to so lovingly illustrate that horrific double spread. (Masses and masses of gargantuan, hairy, man-eating spiders.) I think I’m scarred for life.

And on THAT lovely note, reviewer over and out!

Thanks for reading! What do you think of ‘Chamber of Secrets’, or about the series overall? Let me know below!

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