I am re-reading the Harry Potter books. I might mention spoilers not just about this book but for the whole series as well. If not in the body of this blog post but in any following comments later.
"It is our choices, Harry, that show us who we truly are, far more than our abilities." – Professor Dumbledore
I’ve finished the second book in the Harry Potter series and I can’t believe how easy it has been to just slip back into this world, as if I have never left.
The Chamber of Secrets has always been a funny book for me – it is more fast paced then Philosopher’s Stone but at the same time it seems to lack something. Maybe it is because I am always too eager to read The Prisoner of Azkaban that comes after, so I cannot enjoy this as much as I should. It suffers from being the in between book – the one that sets the tone for the later books and puts the future storylines into motion.
It is also the last book that could pass as a light, children’s fantasy because in the next book, the Prisoner of Azkaban it takes a darker, more mature tone. Chamber of Secrets is a notch scarier then Philosopher’s Stone – with Aragog the massive spider and the Basilisk scenes at the end but they both felt younger, lighter and easier. Yet it forewarned of a darker story to come. The third book followed bringing mystery and suspense – and was also the last ‘short’ book before the series developed into nicely sized tomes. From then on the books were no longer quite so light hearted and cheerful. Deeper, more emotional storylines that would test the characters would be involved rather then death defying adventures of a boy wizard.
In Chamber of Secrets you get to meet Mr and Mrs Weasly, you come to know Dumbledore a bit more, the ghosts who live at Hogwarts and learn a bit of wizarding history. Lord Voldemort’s character is fleshed out from, introducing you to him when he was known simply as Tom Riddle, schoolboy. Looking back at it, it is actually a very subtle book. It introduces you to lots of different things that become important as the storyline progresses, such as the vanishing cabinet (mentioned twice) the cursed necklace, and Mr Borgin at Borgin and Burkes. When I first read the book it didn’t occur to me that I would come across them again.
The magical world, the history of Hogwarts and the friendships and rivalries were also built on. Things that would be more important later – the heir of Slytherin, the sword of Gryffindor, all important parts of the larger storyline were all introduced in this book. Draco Malfoy’s father is introduced, an important character in later books and also along with Mr and Mrs Weasley part of the adult cast of characters.
Chamber of Secrets becomes the jumping board that propels readers head first into this wonderfully imagined world. One of the many strengths of Rowling I think is her pacing throughout – slowly uncoils the characters and the beginnings of the larger plot and rations out information and new details as well as building upon previous parts of the storyline.
The more times I have re-read the Harry Potter series the more confused I come as to how much I like Chamber of Secrets. I will always have a special place in my heart. I remember how it felt reading it for the first time – finding out about Hogwarts, all the letters from the owl post and Diagon Alley and Hagrid and Platform 3 and 3/4. Chamber of Secrets is packed with lots of things going on but I just want to move onto the meat and into the centre of the storyline that begins to unravel slightly in the Prisoner of Azkaban. So Chamber of Secrets suffers slightly as a re-read – being neither here nor there but still being a very enjoyable book.
I have been listening to the associated movie soundtracks as I read the books. I will always love Hedwig’s Theme from the first movie. John Williams really manages to encompass the feeling of Harry Potter with this music – it feels like Harry Potter to me – all that magic and mystery.
From the Chamber of Secret soundtrack Fawkes the Phoenix is my favourite. It’s a softer version of Hedwig’s theme and has the same soaring, uplifting sound that just makes me feel so happy to be in this world again.
I haven’t re-watched the films yet – I think I will do so after reading the whole series. Firstly I don’t want the movies to start influencing my reading too much. I think that the actors (especially Rupert Grint and Maggie Smith) are all pretty much spot on and I can even accept the change in storyline (for the most part) by the movie makers – but for now I want the books to be pure. As it is sometimes I remember the film parts a bit more. The chase with the Basilisk went on for much longer in the film then in the book.
Now that I have started book three though – I find myself distracted by not getting any sleep and so have barely got anything read over the past couple of days. I’m so excited to be reading one of my favourite Harry Potter books though. I’m feeling so at home, I can’t believe I ever left.