Read: August 2001
The problem is that in structure and general plot arc it is almost a total carbon copy of The Philosopher's Stone, only without the amazing sense of discovery which abounds the first book. There is nothing bad about it, as such, but reading it I had the overwhelming sense that I knew exactly what was going to happen. The mysteries are structured similarly to the first book, the characters have not yet developed, and the grander struggle is yet to take off. Hogwarts feels like a safe place to be, even if that safety is mitigated by potions and flying cars and terrifying beasts. But this is the point where things begin to change: if you thought that Harry Potter was to remain a safe children's series, then the third book was to change everything forever.
7 out of 10