Thursday, September 29, 2016

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
(Harry Potter, Book 3)
J.K. Rowling
Hardcover, 435 pages
Arthur A. Levine Books
(An imprint of Scholastic Press) 
First American Edition
Sept. 9, 1999
Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Book Synopsis: Harry Potter's third year at Hogwarts is full of new dangers. A convicted murderer, Sirius Black, has broken out of Azkaban prison, and it seems he's after Harry. Now Hogwarts is being patrolled by the dementors, the Azkaban guards who are hunting Sirius. But Harry can't imagine that Sirius—or, for that matter, the evil Lord Voldemort—could be more frightening than the dementors themselves, who have the terrible power to fill anyone they come across with aching loneliness and despair.

Meanwhile, life continues as usual at Hogwarts. A top-of-the-line broom takes Harry's success at Quidditch, the sport of the Wizarding world, to new heights. A cute fourth-year student catches his eye. And he becomes close with the new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher, who was a childhood friend of his father.

Yet despite the relative safety of life at Hogwarts and the best efforts of the dementors, the threat of Sirius Black grows ever closer. But if Harry has learned anything from his education in wizardry, it is that things are often not what they seem.

Tragic revelations, heartwarming surprises, and high-stakes magical adventures await the boy wizard in this funny and poignant third installment of the beloved series.


Not too long ago, I started a literary project -- re-reading the entire Harry Potter series, in order to then get to the newest HP book: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. And what an enjoyable project this is!!

I can definitely say that this third volume in the series is my favorite of the seven written by Rowling. For me, it's the most satisfying, in terms of human relationships. For example, we get to know Hagrid much better, and see what a truly gentle, kind soul he is. He's one of my favorite characters! Hagrid has a soft spot for creatures commonly considered monsters by the magical community in the HP universe, but he somehow finds their good side, caring for them all, no matter how dangerous they might seem to be.

In this installment, we also see how the friendship of the three main characters -- Harry, Hermione, and Ron, becomes stronger than ever. They have are now staunch allies, and it's wonderful to experience how they work together as a team, although Harry is the one Rowling focuses on the most, since he's the hero of the entire series.

I also love a new character -- Remus Lupin, the most recent Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. He's just as wonderful as Hagrid! He's not only a great teacher, but also a compassionate, kind person. Furthermore, he relates to Harry just as a father would. The reason for this becomes very clear later on in the novel. Lupin even defends and protects Harry when Snape catches Harry with a potentially dangerous magical artifact. Anybody who does something like that gets KUDOS, in my book!

Another fascinating -- as well as rather comical --  new character is Professor Sybill Trelawney, the Divination teacher. The portions of the book dealing with her made me laugh. In the movie, the character was masterfully played by Emma Thompson, who got the professor's 'ditzyness' just right! Professor Trelawney came across as melodramatic and very eccentric, and her way of teaching the Divination classes was guaranteed to make anyone think that Divination is an entirely ridiculous subject to attempt studying. I believe that this character and her silly posturings were Rowling's way of poking fun at the whole thing. Trelawney did provide some much-needed comic relief, though, just as Professor Lockhart did in the previous book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I was, therefore, actually scared when Trelawney unexpectedly entered into a trance one day, and gave an actual prophecy!

This is also the book in which Sirius Black, a convicted murderer just escaped from the infamous prison of Azkaban, is introduced. He seems to be after Harry, too, which creates a lot of suspense. We don't actually get the whole scoop on him until much later in the book. Rowling is to be congratulated for making this reader practically chew her nails until the truth came out!

There are also several fascinating, very imaginative magical concepts introduced in this novel: the Time Turner, which enables its user to go back in time to a specified date and hour, pinpointing it down to the last second, the Marauder's Map, which tracks the movements of anyone inside Hogwarts School, and the Dementors, who are the guardians of Azkaban.

These Dementors are very creepy creatures that suck all the hope and positive feelings out of those who are unfortunate enough to come in contact with them. After such an encounter, the one sure-fire remedy is to eat some chocolate -- as soon as possible, too! I LOVE that!!

I also loved the introduction of a new magical creature -- a hippogriff. This is an animal that has the front quarters of an eagle, and the hindquarters of a horse. This wonderfully strange animal actually becomes a very important part of the plot of this novel, engaging the magical talents of Harry, Hermione, and Ron in a very imaginative way! Of course, Hagrid is extremely fond of him; he has named the creature "Buckbeak". The whole situation regarding the hippogriff also added to my enjoyment of the novel!

As usual, everything in this book is just BRILLIANT. Rowling makes sure that every detail she mentions in the novel is important, as it will inevitably relate to something else in the plot.  Not only is Buckbeak important for his own sake, but for Hagrid's, as well. Furthermore, his fate is linked to that of another, innocently accused character.

The plot has all of Rowling's signature twists and turns, all of her masterful, fascinating suspenseful events. I felt as if I were reading this book for the very first time, instead of my second! (Of course, there are future re-readings in store!) This is the literary magic that J.K. Rowling is so famous for! She not only keeps us readers on the edge of our seats, but also immerses us so completely in her imaginary world, we really do think, while we're reading, that the whole thing is real! Thus, I know that all of us Potterheads feel pretty sad when one of the books ends.....or one of the movies, for that matter, because we're addicted to those, as well!

In short, I LOVE the world, the characters, the magical concepts, and....well, EVERYTHING about these books!! I would LOVE to meet all of these people in person!! And I don't mean the actors, but the fictional characters themselves! I would LOVE to be a student at this WONDERFUL school known as Hogwarts! I would LOVE to wear the GORGEOUS Gryffindor uniform (because I would NEVER want to be anything but a Gryffindor!), to play Quidditch with Harry and the gang, to be able to visit Diagon Alley and get my very own Firebolt, as well as my own white owl!! And I want to visit Hogsmeade, and have fun with the Weasley twins, and meet Dumbledore, whom I ADORE, and Hagrid, whom I would LOVE to hug, and Harry, Hermione, and Ron, with whom I'd LOVE to go off on adventures.....

I can't say enough WONDERFUL things about this novel, or this series!! If only I could go to Platform 9 3/4, and get on the Hogwarts Express..... 


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:  Bram Stoker Award for Best Work for Young Readers (1999), Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel (2000), Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel (2000),  Whitbread Award for Children's Book of the Year (1999), Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature  (2008), Smarties Prize (1999), Books I Loved Best Yearly (BILBY) Awards for Older Readers (2005), Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award (2004), Maine Student Book Award (2000), Golden Archer Award for Intermediate (2001). Indian Paintbrush Book Award (2004), Soaring Eagle Book Award (2002), Hotze de Roosprijs (2001)


  1. Fantastic commentary Maria,

    I am determined that sometime over the next year I will begin the Harry Potter series. I loved the movies. I just have never gotten around to reading the books.

    There is something that you mentioned that I hear so commonly. That is you would like to be at Hogwarts and interact with the characters in the book. The world that Rowling has created leads folks to want to be there. this seems to be a function of the wonderful characters and the string bonds between them.

    I great that the hippogriff is a great literary invention!

    1. Hey, Brian!

      Thanks so much for the compliment!! As you can see, I am a die-hard Potterhead!! Lol.

      You really MUST read the books!! Especially since you've already seen, and loved, the movies!! I know you'll really enjoy them!!

      Of course all of us fans say that we would LOVE to be in the HP universe! Rowling has made it SO real, SO compelling, that we all ARDENTLY wish we could go there, as well as meet and interact with the characters! We fans LOVE the strong friendships formed at Hogwarts. We LOVE the characters!!!!

      You know, it's the mark of a truly GREAT author, when readers have these types of reactions to the author's fictional world!

      The hippogriff is actually not a new literary invention of Rowling's. According to Wikipedia (as you know, I LOVE to research things!) this creature was first mentioned by Virgil in his "Eclogues". However, Rowling has very definitely made this mythical creature her very own!! She's done the same thing with other elements in her fictional world, too. For instance, she incorporated Nicolas Flamel, a real-life alchemist, into the first book.

      I LOVE J.K. Rowling just as much as J.R.R. Tolkien!! While her prose style cannot be compared to Tolkien's -- after all, the HP series is primarily for children, although it does evolve into more adult reading in the later books -- the beauty and power of her world and characters is just as WONDERFUL and COMPELLING!!

      Thanks so much for the TERRIFIC comment!! :)

  2. Well done on the re-read! I'm still in the middle of re-reading the series and have to pick up The Half Blood Prince next.

    You've left a great review and I love all your points about this book. It's quite possibly my favourite too although I also love Goblet of Fire where things get a little more gritty and real. I think TOoTP is my least favourite. What do you think?

    Di @ Book Reviews by Di

    1. Hi, Di!

      Thank you so much for the compliment on my review!! As you can see, I'm a die-hard Potterhead!! Lol.

      I like Goblet of Fire, but things do get very intense there. And, although I HATE Dolores Umbridge almost as much as Voldemort, I do like Order of Phoenix. I think my least favorite book is The Half-Blood Prince, because of the tragedy in know what I'm talking about....had it not been for that, I would have LOVED this book! I must here confess that I couldn't finish it at the time....when I got to THAT part, I burst into tears, and couldn't stop crying for at least a half hour. I don't know if I'll be able to finish the book this time around! So I actually haven't read Deathly Hallows, either. Hopefully, I will be able to read this one, too!

      Thanks for the SUPER nice comment!! :)

    2. OOOh - Umbridge is probably my worst character - I think I hate her even MORE than Voldemort! Seriously.

      And THBP - when I got to THAT tragedy I cried, I ranted, I finished the book and then I swore off HP for years until my cousin convinced me that I HAD to read the last book - it was worth it.

      Rowling took my heart out, tore it to pieces, stomped on it and laughed at me and I STILL love her. Amazing author!

    3. Hi, Di!

      I can understand why you would hate Umbridge more than Voldemort. I agree with you! The thing is, I think many of us have encountered people like her in the real world. I certainly have, unfortunately! Voldemort, on the other hand, is more of a fantasy villain. However, maybe he could be compared to Hitler, in some ways. But still, Umbridge is someone that comes across as more typical of a villain in real life. What I ESPECIALLY HATE about her is how she smiles and puts on this very charming facade, which is ALL FAKE!! UGH!!

      It's amazing that you were able to finish Half-Blood Prince after reading THAT!! I couldn't bring myself to do so. And I never did finish the book. I'm going to attempt it again, but maybe I will fail to finish it again....

      I don't know WHY Rowling had to do such a thing!!! It really wasn't necessary to the plot, or the whole Harry Potter story!! And after the OTHER tragedy, too, in Order of the Phoenix!!! AAAARRRGHHH!!! I know that many fans were affected by that one just as much. But me, I was more affected by the one in Book 6, for some reason. It just felt SO REAL to me!!

      Yes, we Potterheads STILL love J.K. in spite of these things. However, it would be AWESOME if she suddenly decided to write another book in which she UNDID the tragedy in Book 6. THAT would set all of us fans on FIRE!!!! We would probably have celebrations in the streets, with fireworks!!!!! Lol.

      Thanks for commenting again!! Happy Friday!! <3 :)

  3. Great review. This is my favorite book in the series. I like that it focuses on a “villain” other than Voldemort.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. Hi, AJ!

      Thanks for the compliment on my review! Much appreciated!!

      How nice that this is your favorite book, too!! Great minds think alike, right? Lol. And I agree with you that it's nice Voldemort is not the featured villain!

      Thanks for the GREAT comment!! :)


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