Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – J. K. Rowling

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Up to the second book: Harry Potter and the Chambers of Secrets, again by J.K. Rowling of course. By the way, fun fact: J. K. is said to stand for Joanne Kathleen, but the writer made up her middle name. She was born Joanne Rowling and her married name is Joanne Murray.

This second book in the Harry Potter series was first published in 1998 and released in Dutch in 1999 for the first time and I read the fifteenth print in 2001. The book remained number 1 in the adult hardback bestseller charts for a month after publication.

Over the summer Harry almost starts to believe Hogwarts never happened as he is bullied by his family and never hears from his friends. A week before he is set to go back to school, he is visited by Dobby the house elf who doesn’t want him to return because it would be dangerous and “terrible things” are going to happen at Hogwarts.

Harry refuses because he feels like Hogwarts is his home and it’s the only place where he can be himself. Dobby then ruins the dinner party his aunt and uncle were organizing to get him grounded and prevent him going back to Hogwarts. He succeeds in his ploy and Harry gets locked up by his furious uncle. Thankfully, Harry is saved by his friend Ron and his brothers in a flying, blue Ford Anglia which was bewitched by their father.

Harry spends the best week of his life at Ron’s house and is very happy to go back to school. However, Harry and Ron cannot get onto platform 9 3/4 where their train is about to leave because the fence will not let them through. They decide to take the flying car to school, but they are immediately punished upon arrival since they risked exposing magic to the non-magical Muggle world. After all these problems, they still manage to settle in to Hogwarts’ life with ease.

But it seems like Dobby’s warnings are to be proven right, when students start getting hurt and the walls read in blood “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened. Enemies of the heir, beware!” Rumours abound about the Chamber of Secrets and as more people get hurt, tensions rise. Harry and his friends are determined to find out what’s going on because the school board is thinking about closing the school if the culprit is not caught.  They don’t get very far however. Not until Harry finds a mysterious diary that dates back 50 years (when the Chamber was last opened) and it writes back to him and shows Harry what happened back then: Hagrid was expelled from school because they thought he was responsible for opening the Chamber.

Harry and his friends want to prove Hagrid’s innocence so they decide to go look for the Chamber of Secrets and revealing what’s really going on, especially after Ginny Weasley, Ron’s little sister is kidnapped by the monster. With the help of the diary and Hermione (who is turned to stone by the monster), Harry and Ron take a teacher with them to solve it all. But as they’ve just entered the Chamber of Secrets, the cave collapses, separating Harry from the rest. He goes on to find Ginny passed out and alone. Until he notices a young man behind her: Tom Riddle, the owner of the diary, has come back to life. it becomes apparent that Ginny found the diary first and had been pouring her soul into it, and him, quite literally. The more she wrote, the more powerful he became and he forced her to open the Chamber and control the monster.

Tom tells Harry that he is the teenage version of Voldemort and that he hid a version of himself away in the diary when he first opened the Chamber. By now, he learned of Harry’s two brushes with Voldemort (when he was 1 yrs old and last year with the Sorcerer’s Stone) and wants to destroy Harry. He calls for the monster, a basilisk (which is a huge snake), and orders it to kill Harry. Harry fights and kills the snake and destroys the diary, saving Ginny and vanquishing Tom Riddle. They make it back to Ron and get out of the Chamber of Secrets. And, as they say, all’s well that ends well! The Chamber is closed for good, the school is saved and Harry is, once again, the big hero!

The writing style and story have definitely improved since the first book and everything is really well put together. What I also really love about this book, is the references to the previous and coming books. Like with the diary for example. This is the first horcrux that Harry manages to destroy, which points to the sixth and seventh book. But it is kept simple enough to be read as a single book, outside of the series. I also liked Dobby, and it’s very satisfying that he is freed from his evil master (the Malfoys!) in the end. In this book, J.K. Rowling manages to inject humour into her writing. One of the best moments for me was when Harry talks to Dobby telling him he is grateful that the house elf cares about him, but to never try to save his life again because that just might actually kill him.

All in all, a lovely children’s story and a worthy successor to the first book!

What did you guys think? Better or worse than the first book? And how do you feel about professor Lockhart? Let me know in the comments!

Happy reading,

Loes M.

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