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The Chamber of Secrets

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

In Brief: Entertaining schoolboy adventure with magic elements and some rulebreaking.

Cover of The Chamber of Secrets

Author: J.K. Rowling

Series: Harry Potter

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published in: 1998

Age Range: General

Period: Contemporary

Setting: Hogwarts School for Witchcraft & Wizardry

Genres:  AdventureFriendshipMagicSchool


Characters:

  • Harry Potter is the hero whose relatives lock him up until the Weasleys rescue him and he returns to school to face suspicion from his schoolmates.
  • Ron Weasley is the youngest boy of the large Weasley family, Harry's best friend who sticks by him through the suspicion and fear the year's events bring.
  • Hermione Granger is the third of their trio, providing the brains.
  • Ginny Weasley, Ron's younger sister, has something of a crush on Harry.
  • Dobby the self-effacing House Elf tries, against his magical contract, to warn Harry of the danger about to befall him.
  • Lucius & Draco Malfoy, father and son, buy Draco's way onto the school Quidditch team and make no secret of their disdain for Mudbloods (non-pureblood wizards) such as Hermione.
  • Gilderoy Lockhart is the peacock-like Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, mostly concerned with his appearance and with the effect he has on women.

Synopsis:

At the start of the school term at Hogwarts, several people are attacked and turned to stone and Harry is suspected of being the heir of Slytherin, responsible for reopening the Chamber of Secrets in which a monster is known to dwell.

After he unwittingly reveals that he can talk to snakes, a characteristic shared by Slytherin, Harry is suspected by many of being the Heir and the cause of the attacks which threaten to close the school. Hermione finally pieces together the clues of the puzzle together and when Ron's sister, Ginny, is taken off to the Chamber, Harry & Ron follow to rescue her.

Notes:

See The Harry Potter Series for general comments.

This second book in the series, in which the main characters are twelve years old still retains the safe-adventure-for-children feel of the first one. The same characteristics are there: the children's friendship, the the subtle humour this time reflected in the character of Lockhart, and the surety that Dumbledore is good and Voldemort is bad.

We do see, though, a tendency in Harry towards breaking the rules for his own ends and getting away with it: the boys provide a distraction in class while Hermione steals some ingredients they need for a potion. Harry reads an embarrassing letter of Filch's and lies about doing so, although Filch realises he must have done so and is so nervous about it that he lets Harry go. These and other things are fairly common currency in a school story; this series of books, however, has such tremendous presence and influence that one needs to be careful of anything within it.

Lockhart clapped his hands and through the doors to the Entrance Hall marched a dozen surly-looking dwarfs. Not just any dwarfs, however. Lockhart had them all wearing golden wings and carrying harps.

“My friendly, card-carrying cupids!” beamed Lockhart. They will be roving round the school today delivering your Valentines. And the fun doesn't stop here! I'm sure my colleagues will want to enter into the spirit of the occasion! Why not ask Professor Snape to show you how to whip up a Love Potion! And while you're at it, Professor Flitwick knows more about Entrancing Enchantments than any wizard I've met, the sly old dog!“

Professor Flitwick buried his face in his hands. Snape was looking as though the first person to ask him for a Love Potion would be force-fed poison

Saturday 19th July 2003