Rated it: 4 stars
Read count: 2
Harry Potter’s second year at Hogwarts preluded with an unexpected visit from a most unlikely creature, Dobby the house elf, who brought with him ominous tidings and a warning not to attend the wizarding institution for his own good. Despite Dobby’s numerous interventions Harry with the help Ron, and his twin brothers, escaped not only Privet Drive but the duo also worked around the block barrier of Platform 9 & 3/4 in a most interesting fashion.
The plot is centered around the legend of the Chamber of Secrets and the Hier of Slytherin who has not only access to it but also the beast that resides within. It officially began with the first victim Mrs. Norris, the caretaker Filch’s cat, who was found hung petrified by her tail in the halls next to a chilling message scrawled on the wall in red lettering.
During an implemented dueling lesson led by the woefully incompetent and absolutely rank git Gilderoy Lockhart, latest DADA professor, an incident involving Harry, Draco Malfoy and Ernie Macmillan led most of the student body to suspect that Harry was the Hier. Where Voldemort fits into this? That’s an excellent question.
All the signs were there but I, like most I imagine, was too anxious and curious to take the time to analyze much in my first reading. Subtle hints, such sneaky writing has never delighted me and at the same time invoked a sense of sadness before.
I reread this a month ago and I admit I cannot recall exactly but I believe one of the conflicts Harry was dealing with was the fact that the Sorting Hat actually considered placing him in Slytherin. I felt the thread of doubt among the dread, after all, if he had not insisted in Gryffindor that’s where he would’ve been. He might very well be the Heir. What if what everyone is saying is true? Does that make him truly evil deep down?
Albus Dumbledore offered a reprieve from the darkness taking hold, by saying to Harry one of the most quoted gems of insight:
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
An interesting and sobering thought occurred to me. I will try to not spoil the story so this will be a bit awkward but bear with me. One of the victims was forced be the pawn, not initially by coercion but simply being emotionally vulnerable. She was taken advantage of by believing she could not confide her worries, curiosities, and hopes in an actual confident but instead in an enchanted object of all things. People close to her noticed her strange behavior but never cared beyond asking if she was alright and then dismissing her after a badly hidden affirmation.
This facilitated the ends of the malevolent entity bent on mayhem and murder at the expense of a young girl’s life. Do actually think about it, such manner of death in primarily children’s books written in such a way to toe the line of being dark without it being darkly graphic. Jo Rowling is truly a talented witch.
But I digress. What if her friends investigated and early on broke the bloody mystery. For plot’s sake, I should guess it wouldn’t have served. But my point is that this happens in real life. Especially regarding teenagers and younger children, things are going on in their lives with the adults and friends none the wiser because they don’t look close enough. I know it’s impossible to tell sometimes but it’s important to look behind every “I’m okay” and wonder if you were flashed a practiced smile.
However, this happens to be one aspect of the book I admired because it is another layer of complexity that adds dimension to the storytelling. I liked a good many things of The Chambers of Secrets:
- the trio’s camaraderie.
- Hermione’s usual cunning but the emphasis on her drive to get and do what must be done hints at the ruthless streak that’s not often attributed to her.
- Ron’s willingness to embark into the Forbidden Forest potentially festering with spiders, all for the sake of saving his friend.
- Ernie’s apology to Harry, because he knows that was the only right thing to do.
- How everything tied together, the scuffle in Flourish and Blotts, a certain miss’s behavior, the voices in Harry’s head, the spiders and the phoenix.
- I like how we get to learn more of Rubius Hagrid and just how from such a young age he had a big heart, bigger than his own impressive form could contain and the consequences of that kindness.
In retrospect, I can distinctly feel the subtle differences in each book. In The Philosopher’s Stone, there was a green newness of the hidden magical world, we all looked through Harry’s wide green eyes and experienced the wonder first hand, trying to grasp the layout of a terrifying yet beguiling new terrain.
The Chambers of Secrets felt richer because I know the basic ropes now, I’ve moved beyond the dewy foliage entrance of the secret garden, what more can I learn? What new paths branch off from here?
Personally, the richest of all was The Burrow, the Weasley’s home. Our knowledge is expanded. Though, for every new revelation of a situation or object, abstract or not, there is something new that we do not know. The more we discover the less we realize we knew in the first place.
It’s an excellent second installment to the series, I enjoyed it much more than my first read. I highly recommend this series!