Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
(Harry Potter, Book 2)
J.K. Rowling
Hardcover, 341 pages
Arthur A. Levine Books
July 1, 1999
Fantasy, Paranormal Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Book Synopsis: All Harry Potter wants is to get away from the Dursleys and go back to Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he's packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby - who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry's second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockheart, a spirit named "Moaning Myrtle" who haunts the girls' bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley's younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone--or something--starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects... Harry Potter himself?

I first read this novel several years ago, but, since I didn't have a blog back then, I had not reviewed it until now.

This second reading was just as delightful as the first! This series just has a freshness, an amazing originality, that I know I'll NEVER get tired of!

Poor Harry Potter has not had an easy life....after all, he's been targeted for bullying and attempted murder. In the first book, not only was he nearly killed by Voldemort, but then grew up being constantly bullied by his nearest relatives, the Dursleys, who are Muggles (non-magical people). Then he started attending the magical boarding school -- Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry -- and found two new enemies: Draco Malfoy, and Professor Snape. All of these characters continue to harass him in this second installment, too.

Amazingly, Harry manages to deal with it all, including the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart, who is ridiculously narcissistic. And in the end, as always, Harry emerges as hero!

In this book, there's a new mystery to be solved, as several students, and one cat, are Petrified. This means they're literally turned into statues. At the same time, Harry is hearing something very unusual, that no one else can hear. And a certain villain makes a very unexpected appearance....

The three main characters are GREAT, as usual. Harry remains resolute in solving any and all strange mysteries that may arise, and he  has two incredible allies in Hermione and Ron, who back him up in all of his adventures! I love how Hermione constantly turns to books as the answer to every problem that crops up. When in doubt, head for the library! As for Ron, I really admire his loyalty to Harry. He's given Harry some very great help along the way, as well. 

All the secondary characters are also wonderful, which is a Rowling trademark. This is very important, as I do feel that secondary characters can either make or break a novel. 

Professor McGonagall, although very strict, is also very fair, as well as compassionate. Professor Snape is his usual nasty, detestable self, constantly directing his unpleasant remarks to Harry. The Weasleys -- especially Fred and George -- are very comical. I love how the whole family accepts and loves Harry, who is an orphan. And Hagrid is his usual sweet, adorable self! In this novel, we find out more about his rather shadowy past.

Three new minor characters are introduced here -- the house elf, Dobby, Draco's vicious father, Lucius Malfoy, and Professor Gilderoy Lockhart

Poor Dobby leads a miserable existence, but, in spite of that, he attempts to warn Harry away from Hogwarts. Unfortunately, for some reason, he's not able to tell Harry exactly why it would be dangerous for him to return to the school. My heart went out to him! 

I thought it was great that Rowling also threaded in some social commentary through this character. But then, she's been doing that since the first book. It's very obvious that she's against abuse of all types, as this is a recurrent theme in the books. Dobby is mistreated by Lucius on a constant basis. Harry is mistreated by the Dursleys, and abused by Draco and Snape. This is one of the elements of the books that, I'm sure, has contributed to their appeal. Rowling definitely sticks up for the underdog!

The portrayal of Lucius is very well done. He's cruel, despotic, and evil. He might come across as very stereotypical, as Harry's Muggle relative, Uncle Vernon, does, but again, I think Rowling is using some of her characters to speak out against abuse. Unfortunately, children in particular do suffer a lot of abuse worldwide, and so do other groups who have no access to power of any type. 

Through these two characters, Rowling also makes a very important statement regarding bigotry. Lucius (as well as his son, Draco) detests "Mudbloods", which is the name given to magical people whose parents happen to be Muggles. Lucius also loathes elves, as they are powerless to change their own status unless someone helps them out. As for Uncle Vernon, he detests magical people. Both characters are constantly judging and stereotyping those who belong to other, "different" groups. Both are, of course, insensitive to the suffering of those they unfairly mistreat.

Gilderoy Lockhart provides a lot of the comic relief in this novel. He is incredibly FOND of himself! He's constantly telling people about his supposed magical exploits, as well as pushing his own books, making these a requirement for the subject he's teaching. It turns out that he's just a ridiculous windbag, but, along the way, he provided a lot of laughs at tense points in the narrative.

I also loved the character of "Moaning Myrtle", even though she was constantly complaining and whining. I do feel sorry for her. She had self-esteem issues while alive, and these continued to plague her even as a ghost. She just had a very raw deal. Even her death was totally unfair. She does help out our heroes, though. Without the clues she provided, they would not have been able to solve the mystery so easily, and lives would not have been saved.

The novel ended in a very satisfactory manner, as the first book did. Rowling is obviously not a fan of cliffhangers, which is something I really appreciate! Of course, it was Harry who saved the day. In fact, in this particular installment, I was very strongly reminded of Greek mythology. Harry could have been one of the famous Greek heroes, in that he battled some very great obstacles, and used his intelligence and resourcefulness in doing so. I'm sure this was intentional on Rowling's part. She certainly excels at bringing in all kinds of literary allusions to these books! 

Rowling's imagination is amazingly fertile, as she brings in more plot twists, more incredible events, and makes her readers wish even more that they studied and lived at Hogwarts! I find it hard to believe that these books should have met with some negative criticism. After all, they fall squarely into the tradition of the hero who triumphs against all odds! And they do so in an entirely unique and very entertaining way, too!


Rowling was born to Peter James Rowling, a Rolls-Royce aircraft engineer, and Anne Rowling (née Volant), on 31 July 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, England, 10 miles (16 km) northeast of Bristol. Her mother Anne was half-French and half-Scottish. 

Although she writes under the pen name J.K. Rowling (pronounced like rolling), her name when her first Harry Potter book was published was simply Joanne Rowling. Anticipating that the target audience of young boys might not want to read a book written by a woman, her publishers demanded that she use two initials, rather than her full name. As she had no middle name, she chose K as the second initial of her pen name, from her paternal grandmother Kathleen Ada Bulgen Rowling. She calls herself Jo and has said, "No one ever called me 'Joanne' when I was young, unless they were angry."

The Harry Potter series has won worldwide fame, as well as many awards. The movies based on the novels have also achieved great acclaim. The first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, was published in 1997, and the last, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, was released in 2007.

Here is a list of literary awards won by this novel:  Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature (2008), British Book Award for Children's Book of the Year (1999),Smarties Prize (1999),  Booklist Editors' Choice (1999), Prijs van de Jonge Jury (2002), Books I Loved Best Yearly (BILBY) Awards for Older Readers (2006), Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award (2008), Golden Archer Award for Middle/Junior High (2008)


  1. I named my phone after Moaning Myrtle (it's just called Myrtle). My husband rolled his eyes when I told him. :-) My husband and I really enjoy the Harry Potter books. Mouse hasn't read the books, although she's seen the movies and loves them. Chamber of Secrets is her favorite.

    1. Hi, Wendy!

      Oh, how FUNNY that you named your phone after Moaning Myrtle! Lol. But you should have kept the "Moaning" part. Haha!

      It's so wonderful that you and your husband both like these books! My own hubby is not a bookworm. He does like the HP movies, but not as much as I do. He can actually take them or leave them. At least he doesn't actively HATE them, like he does The Twilight Saga! Lol.

      Mouse will probably be reading these books later on, right? I know she'll enjoy them, since she's already seen the movies.

      As for picking a favorite HP book, I guess I would have to say it's a tie between the first and third books. However, I do like "Chamber of Secrets" a LOT, too! The books do get darker starting with Book 4, although I still love my Harry Potter!!!!

      Thanks for the nice comment!! :)

  2. We really appreciate clean writing for young adults..everyone seems to think you need smut to sell...thank you

    1. Hi, Ronald!

      It's true -- writers nowadays are writing a lot of smut. And it DOES sell, unfortunately. This is one of the reasons I prefer to read YA fiction. It's usually clean. If sex is mentioned, the actual sex scene is not described, but only alluded to.

      Another thing I LOVE about YA books is that there's not much profanity in them. Oh, you might get an occasional "damn" or "hell", but nothing beyond that. NO "F bombs"! And NO "MF bombs", either! It's so GREAT being able to read a book without running into that kind of garbage!

      You're very welcome! And thanks to you for the GREAT comment!! :)

  3. Replies
    1. Hi, Whitney! Thanks so much for the compliment!! :)

  4. Great review; love Harry Potter. :)

    1. Hi, Cali!

      I LOVE Harry Potter!!! Thanks for the compliment!! :)


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