I’ve stuck to my challenge and read book two of the Harry Potter series! After The Philosopher’s Stone, I was left wanting a bit more of the gritty stuff, and more of an exciting conclusion. Despite readers telling me to be wary of the Chamber of Secrets, I found this book gave me just what I wanted! I suppose I went into it with low expectations, but maybe that’s the best way to go in to any story.
Before starting book two I paid a visit to Edinburgh, and my boyfriend (who owns two wands and probably a secret cloak that I don’t know about) took great pleasure in showing me the café where Rowling started writing the series, and the cemetery where she apparently got inspiration for character names. Look, it’s Voldemort’s grave!
As an aside, Edinburgh’s lovely and the castle felt like the closest thing in my head to what Hogwarts would look like. Yikes, field trips already. This is one dedicated blog, eh? (It’s just coincidence really, but we’ll gloss over that)
As for the book itself, overall the story was more exciting to me than The Philosopher’s Stone. Some of it felt a little dragged out, particularly the hunt for the heir of Slytherin. I found myself wondering what happened to the Invisibility Cloak from the last book – no need for a complicated potion when you could just shove the cloak on and follow Malfoy around for an afternoon, surely? Harry did eventually remember about his fantastic invasion-of-privacy-cloak later in the book, so maybe he’s just a little bit slow on the up-take.
The whole tone of the story felt a touch darker than the first, which was exactly what I wanted. I loved it when it seemed like Filch’s cat had been sinisterly murdered, and was ready to applaud Rowling for a seriously dark plot twist. Then it was quickly revealed he was just petrified. Pfft, let down! I suppose it’s only the second book, I can’t hope for a major death already. (Maybe by book four?)
I seem to have a knack of picturing characters as animated people – when Lockhart was introduced I found myself picturing the titular character from Howl’s Moving Castle. That almost made me like him, before Rowling really put all her effort into making him a massively irritating character with almost no redeeming factors. I was convinced Lockhart was a bad guy – he had ‘Professor Quirell Junior’ written all over him. I was left disappointed with the ending of his story, as ultimately he felt like a waste of time and did nothing of consequence. Chapters devoted to him felt wasted, and I honestly expected him to be more important. Maybe he comes back in the next book though… But something tells me he’s done and dusted.
On the other hand, a character I absolutely loved right from his introduction was Lucius Malfoy. Ah, he’s just fantastic, isn’t he? I really hope he becomes an important character. He feels scary, and intimidating, and I wouldn’t like to see the pointy end of his wand. If I have my way he’ll go on to become Voldemort’s right-hand-man and have an epic showdown with someone like Mcgonagall, who will turn herself into a bear and go completely ape-shit on him. (Maybe that’s a little too dark…)
All this praise being directed at Lucius, however, doesn’t change the way I feel about Draco Malfoy. He’s still an irritating little git, and I will be genuinely surprised if he ever does anything seriously evil. Go on Malfoy; prove to me that you’re not all talk!
There felt like a major lack of regular-sized-Ru– I mean, Neville Longbottom, in book two, which makes me sad. I’m hoping he makes a comeback. He was a highlight of book one for me but seemed to be pushed aside here to make way for new characters who just weren’t as interesting, like Colin. Couldn’t Neville have been used in Colin’s place, to give us more exposure to a character who felt a little more relevant?
For most of the book, I was convinced the mysterious voice Harry kept hearing belonged to either Voldemort or Salazar Slytherin. I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be the Basilisk. That being said, I had (and still have) a theory that Salazar Slytherin is alive and well, and potentially just sunning it up somewhere in Barbados/brewing evil schemes. What if he is revealed to be the true villain behind Voldemort?! The idea of the House wizards being the ones who originally built Hogwarts was absolutely awesome. I love any smidgen of info I get on Hogwarts history, and I’m really hoping this kind of stuff gets explored in more detail further down the line. I want me some Godric Gryffindor/Salazar Slytherin action.
I really enjoyed all the action when Harry made it into the Chamber. The Basilisk vs. Fawkes the Phoenix section was so fantastic and graphic, and I loved the mental images of this gargantuan snake being attacked by a flaming bird. I’m glad I’ve not seen the second film, as I imagine this didn’t look nearly as good on the big screen as it did in my head. Am I right? I’m probably thinking the Chamber of Secrets film is older than it actually is, as I’m picturing the most hilarious shoddy special effects wherein a size-11 sock puppet with Googly Eyes is attacked by a swan wearing cardboard flames.
All this pureblood supremacy stuff sure is tickling my fancy, and I’m thinking it’s going to become an even heavier theme as the series goes on. You can practically hear me rubbing my hands together at the thought – so much drama!!
As for the conclusion, I was finding myself panicking that book three would revolve around Hagrid being a prisoner at Azkaban. There was a lot of talk about the place, and he was stuck over there, and I breathed an almighty sigh of relief when he showed up just in time before the end. Which leaves me wondering, who is locked up at Azkaban waiting to grab the spotlight in book three? My opinion on Hagrid hasn’t changed; he still grates on me and seems to cause trouble. He’s Lennie from Of Mice and Men without the charm.
I liked that Dobby the house-elf got his freedom, although I expected he would be in this book more prominently… I don’t live under a rock; I know he’s a very popular character. For now he was entertaining but did slightly grate on me, which I find is often the case with characters who’s main purpose is to make vague comments and then refuse to do any explaining. Does he come to the forefront more later on? He didn’t seem that important, and I was much more focused on Lucius in their closing scene than Dobby.
Also, I must say I’ve noticed Dumbledore will take any excuse for a ruddy great feast. Oh, Harry, you killed the Basilisk? FEAST!! It won’t surprise me if by book seven I’m reading about Harry dealing with diabetes and Ron putting on his 19th stone.
My biggest surprise when I got to the end of the Chamber of Secrets was the realisation that I’d started to like a certain redheaded sidekick. Ron had his first good moment when he stood up for Hermione – but then started vomming slugs. I wondered if he would be like Xander Harris from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, who started that series as my most-disliked character and ended it as my favourite after showing such heart. Every single time Ron defended Hermione’s honour, I caught myself liking him more. He’s grown on me massively throughout the book. It’s sections like this one, when Harry asks if Ron is up for a standard life-or-death adventure, that make me give Ron a little cheer:
“Ron read the message, swallowed hard and looked sideways at the empty seat usually filled by Hermione. The sight seemed to stiffen his resolve, and he nodded.”
That’s the kind of loyalty I’m a total sucker for! Later on, both Hermione and Ron shone as they brewed the polyjuice potion while Harry was in hospital. This was awesome – having characters that don’t just sit around while the hero is away is brilliant, and they proved their worth to me.
The Weasley’s have all grown on me in this book. Arthur seems nice, and I’m starting to like Fred and George’s comic relief – them asking Harry if he was nipping to the Chamber of Secrets for a cup of tea was brilliant. I am slightly apprehensive Ginny Weasley is going to become a damsel in distress figure. She suddenly became pretty important pretty quickly, and I don’t think she really warrants the attention. I still want more focus on Hermione! So much more page-time seems to be spent on Harry and Ron, while Hermione is doing her own thing ‘off-screen’ and we just get to hear about her adventures when Harry learns about them.
Aside from a slightly drawn out middle-section and a couple of dud characters, I found the Chamber of Secrets more exciting than the first book, and was a big fan of the eerie diary shedding more light on the past of Hogwarts. On to the Prisoner of Azkaban!
For my end of book two checkpoint: I’m liking McGonagall, Lucius and Ron. Not liking Hagrid or Draco. My burning questions are:
- When do I get to see the real Voldemort?
- Is Lucius Malfoy going to become a central antagonist?
- Is Salazar Slytherin as important as I think he might be?
And as for you…
- What did you think to Gilderoy Lockhart? Bad character?
- How did you find The Chamber of Secrets compared to The Philosopher’s Stone?
- Is there a majority fan-favourite book in the series? I’m curious!