Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: J.K. Rowling, October 31—November 8, 2015
My rating: ♦♦♦♦◊
The second book in the Harry Potter series is even better than the first. The playground rumour at Hogwarts is that the titular Chamber of Secrets, which may or may not exist, is to open which will result in the gruesome end of Muggle-born wizards.
Even more worryingly, people are being petrified at the school. Victims are left in a vegetative state and suspicion falls on Harry as the culprit.
This excellent continuation is atmospheric and spooky. A darkness descends over Hogwarts as the pupils, and indeed staff, fear for their wellbeing and turn on each other in an effort to find the traitor in their midst.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. While the tension is amped up, so is the humour. A running joke involving Ron’s wonky wand results in a whole host of unfortunate outcomes for the ginger wizard, who also endures the wrath of his mother on more than one occasion. Meanwhile, Harry has a groupie and Professor Quirrell is replaced as Defence Against the Dark Arts by Gilderoy Lockhart. Lockhart is an egomaniac wizarding equivalent of Bear Grylls whose self-adoration is so extreme he could well be styled on Shrek’s Price Charming.
Another excellent addition to the cast comes in Dobby, the Malfoys’ house elf, who tries to save Harry Potter from a conspiracy but only makes his life more difficult with each intervention.
Where Philosopher’s Stone had a lot of work to do to establish the universe, here Rowling can have a lot of fun with her established, colourful cast. Investment in the story is sufficient that the futures of the characters and even Hogwarts itself can be threatened with great payoff, and there’s much more space to build a creepy, atmospheric story.
Chamber of Secrets builds on the successes of the first book but isn’t scared to bring in new characters and try new things, making this sequel even better than the original.