Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2), by J.K. Rowling

Eight stars

Returning for more fun, I am back to see what Harry and his friends have to offer in this second novel of the series. Still fairly light and entertaining, J.K. Rowling keeps the story on track, while tossing the odd flying broom, swooping owl, and Quidditch match to keep me on my toes.

After a long summer with his family, Harry Potter is eager to return to Hogwarts for Second Year. While the excitement builds amongst others as well, Harry receives an ominous visitor on his birthday. This elfin visitor hints strongly that Harry ought not return to school. A warning that Harry does not wish to ignore, but his excitement supersedes all else.

When Harry refuses to heed the warning, he finds himself in a great deal of trouble with his aunt and uncle, who lock him away for his attitude. Fearing the warning may indeed keep him back, Harry wonders how he will be able to escape without using the small amount of magic he knows, forbidden from using it away from Hogwarts. Before he can get too upset, his best friend, Ron Weasley, arrives with some help to get him out. Harry spends the rest of his summer break living with the Weasleys, learning what it is like to live amongst those who understand and practice magic.

Once school begins, Harry must cope with piles of new homework and some professors who are anything but engaging with their students. Seeing Ron and Hermione help lessen the pain, but it is still a hard push through. When Harry begins hearing a mysterious voice, he wonders if this is a game someone is playing, though the voice does not dissipate and has a message for him.

As well as ominous warnings, there are attacks on members of the student body that cannot be explained. Harry begins to worry and wonders if the voice may be a part of the violence. Harry also discovers the power of being a Parslemouth—able to speak to snakes—which only adds to the suspicion that he could hold some dark magic powers. These powers include coming from a lineage able to open a mysterious ‘Chamber of Secrets’ and unleash the monster that lives within.

Baffled about all of this, Harry vows to discover who is behind the attacks on the students. With the help of Ron and Hermione, Harry goes undercover and targets the most likely suspect, Draco Malfoy, hoping that he will reveal himself. Things take a turn when they cannot nail Draco for the attacks and Hermione finds herself being the latest victim.

While Ron and Harry continue their quest, the former’s younger sister, Ginny, is taken and dragged to the Chamber of Secrets, upping the ante to solve the case. With the help of a key clue Hermione left the boys, they inch closer to learning the truth and revealing all.

Harry finds himself facing much danger on his own and must clash with the person who has been unleashing all the violence throughout Hogwarts. He will be surprised to see the truth and wonders if the warning to stay away all those months ago might have been a wonderful decision after all. Harry will need some outside help from a trusted ally and some new faces, but there comes a time where dark magic might be too much for even Harry to handle. The pressure mounts and young Harry is forced to make a decision he hopes not to regret! A chilling follow-up book that is perfect for those seeking to get hooked on Potter and all his world.

I admit, the series has me curious and I am wanting to know more with each chapter. I wish I had heeded the request of Neo and others to start this sooner, though there is no time like the present, as the world could use a little magic, what with the dark forces that emerge south of the Canadian border. J.K. Rowling lays the story out masterfully and develops strong characters to support her plot lines. This looks to be a wonderful reading experience for all, with different people taking something away from the story for themselves.

Harry Potter remains central to the story, but, as mentioned before, is more a part of a trio of protagonists. The reader learns more about Harry and perhaps some of his backstory, while also being immersed into some of the Ron story, through tie spent with his family. While Hermione’s past is not as developed as the boys, she comes into herself and readers can easily sense a connection to her. While not a damsel in distress, she has fallen into the stereotype of being ‘in need of saving’ to this point, a mantle I am sure she wishes it dispel soon.

Rowling offers more strong supporting characters for the reader, with new forms of magic and creatures who are just now scurrying from the shadows. This is sure to be an evolving list, perhaps adding to what will be a chaotic and action-packed series as things continue. This cross-section of characters will take some concentration to keep straight, as names fly by with each passing chapter. Still, it is exciting to see how things will progress and who returns to the fold as the novels continue .

While the theme of the story is definitely geared towards the younger reader, Rowling writes with an inclusive pen and allows everyone to take something away for their own entertainment. I can see that I may find nuggets that Neo missed and vice versa. That is truly the sign of a wonderful book, allowing out conversations on the various plots and character developments to remain rich and wholesome.

The story flows really well, so much so that I find myself getting lost in the story and losing track of time. A well-paced narrative keeps me wanting to learn more, with strong characters to keep me interested. Rowling does keep the conversation at a level that the banter is understood and geared towards the younger reader, but I have no complaints there whatsoever. While I am told these early novels are lighter and happier, I am eager to see how things progress into a darker presentation and what Rowling will do to add depth to the stories, while still understanding her intended reading audience. Until then, Muggles can stand aside, as I need to get back and see how my House is doing. Any guesses which might be mine?

Kudos, Madam Rowling, for a great continuation of the series. I am eager to see where things progress from here.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons