A sleeping evil awakens under the castle of Hogwarts. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second installment to the Harry Potter series. A sequel that gives what we were looking for an solidifies a desire to read the entire series. Let’s dive in and see what this chapter of the series is all about. I will do my best not to spoil anything major for this book.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was released in June 1999. This book is slightly longer than the previous entry clocking in at 341 pages that are shared between eighteen chapters. J.K. Rowling takes us into another mystery for Harry, Ron and Hermione to solve involving the heir of house Slythrine.
This book starts with Harry back at Privet Drive. He has been writing to his friends but has not been receiving letters back. This has really isolated him. Now that he has experienced the wizarding world, he wants nothing more than to return to it. However a house elf named Dobby appears and tells him not to go back to the school and that something really bad will happen there this year. Harry finds out that Dobby has been holding back his letters and chases him. This causes him to interrupt the dinner party his aunt and uncle are having when Dobby uses a hover charm to float a cake over one of the guests head and drop it.
This leads Harry to get in trouble and he gets locked into his room. Eventually Ron Weasly and his two brothers Fred and George come to rescue him and take Harry to their home. This leads to the return to the magic setting that the Diagon Alley chapters of the previous novel had, but this time, in a more homey situation which is very refreshing. It also allows us to learn more from several new characters that were not touched on very much aside from names in the previous book.
That is one of the biggest strengths of this book. It builds very well off the previous book with very little recap needed. The initial shock on a magical world is gone. Now, it’s time to expand on it and really begin to grow the wizarding world. The section in Diagon alley for this book tacks on the idea more heavily of celebrities in the wizarding world with Gildoroy Lockheart. An author who has achieved many fantastic tasks. We also see the view of another section of the wizarding world for the first time. This is the darker side, the evil side if you will. It introduces some more of Malfoy’s family and also shows how the wizarding world also has political divides.
The return to Hogwarts is handled differently than the past book as well. It’s all these small changes that I believe really make this book feel new and expand on the world with several different ideas.
This book noticeably does less school lessons with more time devoted to moving the plot of the mystery of the Chamber of Secrets. Harry Potter gets himself in trouble being in the wrong place at the wrong time. This spirals downward and leads to detention and eventually isolation with the whole school no longer trusting him. In a way this is a book that shows school bullying at their second year. The derogatory term “Mud Blood” is uttered by Malfoy to Hermione and we get once again a better sense of the bullying and political differences of families in the wizarding world.
We the readers get to learn some new spells along the way in this book as well as take a deeper dive into the class of potion making in a sense. A whole several chapters are spent in the development and use of the Polyjuice potion. A potion that will have major consequences on the rest of the series. best to learn it young!
There is plenty of comical relief in this book even through it feels rather bleak at times. Everything from Ron’s wand breaking to the Gilderoy Lockhear shenanigans that happen throughout the year after he gets the Defence Against the Dark Arts job. There is even a Valentines bit in this book that I feel is very well placed in the series for character romance. This is treated only as a crush a not a full blown relationship between 12 year olds that would feel very cringy at best.
The conclusion of this book feels much more epic than the previous book. There are some tropes that can be pulled from the fantasy genre here but at the end of the day, the end of the book pays off nearly all the established questions and leaves me asking for more after a satisfying battle that I am trying not to spoil my review.
Overall the character development is great, every character seems to grow and we learn more about them throughout the book. This is effective for more than just the main characters but the supporting characters as well which really makes this world feel very lived in deep.
The Chamber of Secrets does it’s best and good effort of living up to the first installment of the series. It grows the wizarding world and gives us the reader to be more invested in characters that are not the three main leads. We also get a good idea for where the series is planning on heading in the future as Voldemort is still a major threat to the world. This book meets the goals that J.K Rowling set out to achieve. It does not manage to reach the first books level in my honest opinion but is a successful sequel nonetheless. This book is still a fantastic read and worth everyone’s time. There are major setups in this book for future books to come so it’s a very important book as well that cannot be skipped.
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What are your thoughts on the Chamber of Secrets book? Was it better than the first book and how does it compare to other entries in the series? Comment below and let us know!