Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: J.K. Rowing, July 1—8, 2016
My rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
It’s hard to keep lavishing praise on this series without just saying the same old things, but this was so close to perfect you couldn’t fit Mrs Norris’s whisker into the space.
Harry finds a textbook that belonged to the ‘Half-Blood Prince’, with notes in the margin that produce superior potions to anything he (or indeed Hermione!) has ever pulled off before. Meanwhile, Dumbledore begins to take Harry through Voldemort’s backstory in more detail. Draco Malfoy has a task set by the Dark Lord and Snape, as ambiguous as ever, has an interest in the outcome.
Professor Slughorn is our new addition to the cast, and he’s brilliant. Pompous, narcissistic and one of the old boys, he brings colour to a dark novel, and he has secrets of his own that turn out to be very important.
Rowling toys with the teenaged protagonists’ hormones more than ever. Ron and Hermione are involved in a will-they/won’t-they stramash with Victor Krum and Lavender looming large on the outskirts, meanwhile Harry has his sights set on Ginny (slightly awkward vis-à-vis Ron, never mind Cho). OK, let’s be honest and admit that we all know this came from nowhere. Harry literally didn’t give a wand’s sparkle for Ginny until now, and Ron wasn’t exactly concealing a jumping bag of chocolate frogs of lust for old Granger either, but let’s go with it.
It ends, as Potter likes to these days, with a gut-punching twist. As if Cedric and Sirius weren’t bad enough. But this one’s a belter, and its implications cannot be overstated. It’s going to haunt you until Book 7, and becomes only the third book that’s ever made me cry. (The last was Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, by the way.)
A stonking penultimate book that leaves you panting for the finale.