Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second book in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. It was published in 1999 by Scholastic. For all Harry Potter facts, check out the Lexicon (spoilers). Also, check out the #1 Harry Potter fansite, mugglenet.com.
Will contain spoilers for the series.
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s, Realistic
“Ever since Harry Potter had come home for the summer, the Dursleys had been so mean and hideous that all Harry wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardy. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature who says that if Harry returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.
And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor and a spirit who haunts the girls’ bathroom. But then the real trouble begins—someone is turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects—Harry Potter himself!”
“Harry?” said Mr. Weasley blankly. “Harry who?”
He looked around, saw Harry, and jumped.
“Good lord, is it Harry Potter? Very pleased to meet you, Ron’s told us so much about—”
“Your sons flew that car to Harry’s house and back last night!” shouted Mrs. Weasley. “What have you got to say about that, eh?”
“Did you really?” said Mr. Weasley eagerly. “Did it go all right? I—I mean,” he faltered as sparks flew from Mrs. Weasley’s eyes, “that—that was very wrong, boys—very wrong indeed….”
“Now—be warned! It is my job to arm you against the foulest creatures known to wizardkind! You may find yourselves facing your worst fears in this room. Know only that no harm can befall you whilst I am here. All I ask is that you remain calm.”
In spite of himself, Harry leaned around his pile of books for a better look at the cage. Lockhart placed a hand on the cover. Dean and Seamus had stopped laughing now. Neville was cowering in his front row seat.
“I must ask you not to scream,” said Lockhart in a low voice. “It might provoke them.”
As the whole class held its breath, Lockhart whipped off the cover.
“Yes,” he said dramatically. “Freshly caught Cornish pixies.”
“We will be able to cure her, Argus,” said Dumbledore patiently. “Professor Sprout recently managed to procure some Mandrakes. As soon as they have reached their full size, I will have a potion made that will revive Mrs. Norris.”
“I’ll make it,” Lockhart butted in. “I must have done it a hundred times. I could whip up a Mandrake Restorative Draught in my sleep—”
“Excuse me,” said Snape icily. “But I believe I am the Potions master at this school.”
Recommended Age Range: 10+
What I Liked:
There’s a lot of humor in this book that Rowling sneaks in between all the tension, and even if it might not make you laugh, it will make you smile. I especially loved Harry’s stay with the Weasley family and pretty much everything involving Mr. and Mrs. Weasley after that. I also found Percy’s little plotline humorous, and it occurred to me that this is possibly the most we see of Percy in any book, as well as some of the funnier moments involving him. We actually see more of Percy in this book than Ginny, which is saying something, since Ginny is…well, you know (and if you don’t, you’ll find out). In fact, Ginny’s introduction is extremely understated.
Snape gets off some killer lines in this book. My favorite is the one I quoted above, but the moment when he and the other teachers starts egging Lockhart on in the end is pretty good, too.
We’re introduced to Fawkes in this book! Yay, Fawkes! He’s one of the only “good” (for lack of a better word) magical creatures that we see in the entire series, really. He also gets most of his screen time in this book, too, and it is some awesome screen time.
What else? Hmmm…this book really starts off the Draco/Harry rivalry. Also, Parseltongue is something that is not used enough in the series, but it is very cool.
Finally, I still really enjoy Rowling’s set-up and build-up of the plot. She throws in all these hints from different places and in different ways, and it comes together really neatly. Again, nothing is without a purpose, and it lets the reader try to figure things out along with Harry. One of my favorite hints was Ron’s joke that Riddle’s award was because he killed Myrtle. I read a theory once that speculated that Hermione is usually right except when she’s emotional, and Ron is usually wrong except when he’s joking. Looks like that’s the case here, eh?
What I Didn’t Like:
I have never liked Chamber of Secrets. It’s not a bad book. It’s just not very interesting. The first half is pretty good, but the second half is a drag to get through. I’m not even sure why. It’s simply unable to hold my attention. It seems to take forever for things to get moving, and then everything is spaced so far apart that it’s very choppy in terms of conflict and action. There needs to be downtime, yes, but it seems to me that there is too much downtime.
As I mentioned above, Ginny doesn’t appear much in this book, which is odd seeing as she’s so central to the plot. Perhaps Rowling did that on purpose, because of what Ginny is doing? Come to think of, and this is something I will have to keep in mind, does Ginny even really show up at all until book five? And by show up, I mean have more than a few lines to remind readers that she exists.
Lockhart, you’re annoying.
Hints/Foreshadowing/Ruminations (Spoilers/Clues—recommended for readers of all seven books only, or those who like spoilers, because I don’t want to ruin the series for anyone accidently):
One thing I’ve noticed: if Rowling mentions something more than once, it’s probably important. In Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry wonders if Snape can read minds. That comes up again in this book.
–Keep in mind Tom Riddle and his heritage
–Keep in mind the diary, and the basilisk fang
–Keep in mind Harry’s Parseltongue ability
–Keep in mind Borgin & Burkes in Knockturn Alley and the cabinet Harry hides in
–Keep Dobby and Lucius Malfoy in mind, too
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has the same tightly-knit plot that Sorcerer’s Stone had, with wonderful little teasers and hints scattered throughout that show that there was a great deal of thought put into the story. However, it failed to hold my attention after the first half, and it really drags during the second half. It’s also not nearly as memorable as the first book and is very forgettable once you read the others.
You can buy the book here: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
And the movie here:Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Single-Disc Widescreen Edition)
Coming Up Next: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban