Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: J.K. Rowling, October 22—November 2, 2014
My rating: ♦♦♦♦◊
J.K. Rowling’s smash hit series begins with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. This rather unassuming title introduces us to Harry, Hogwarts and the magical world that would take the world by storm.
It is easy to see the appeal of this book. Clearly aimed at children, Potter #1 is written in an accessible, light-hearted style. Rowling uses Harry’s plight to tap into many feelings that children will understand: fears about fitting in, adequacy and family strife. Despite the madcap plot, it’s easy to sympathise with Harry, and to root for him.
Writing a magical story about a wizarding school, Rowling embraces the utter insanity of it and goes full pelt into the craziness. The characters are colourful and almost caricatured at points, much more so than the film. The school – a character in its own right – has been carefully planned. In fact, the whole wizarding world has been created with so much detail that it really does feel like you’re stepping into a bona fide, if bizarre, world.
Kudos to Rowling for making Harry’s ignorance of his heritage a plot point. This is a masterclass in how to use an audience surrogate.
The Philospher’s Stone notably trumps the film when it comes to pacing. Where the film rushes through from one thing to the next, the source material is much more even, and allows both Harry and the reader time to absorb and respond to each new idea before presenting the next. Having said that, it is never slow or boring – it’s just right.
Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone is a very engaging, moreish introduction to the series, and it’s easy to see just why it took off so rapidly.
(NB – According to the Pottermore website, I’m a Ravenclaw!)