Saturday, 11 April 2009

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - J.K. Rowling

Read: July 2003

Having watched his friend murdered before his eyes and then narrowly escaped death at the hands of his newly resurrected mortal enemy, Harry can be forgiven for the grumpy mood he finds himself in at the beginning of this book. To add to his woes he hasn't heard anything from the wizarding world all summer and has been reduced to gleaming scraps of information by lying in the rose bushes beneath the Dursley’s living room window and listening to the news inside. Yes, Harry is p***ed off. Puberty, it seems, has finally caught up with him. But this is just the beginning. His fifth year promises to be the most difficult of all his years at Hogwarts. Not only is Voldemort on the loose once more, but a power struggle has broken out between the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts, and a vindictive little shrew by the name of Dolores Umbridge has been appointed as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
is a massive tome. It is immense, and bitter, and very, very dark. Although it could have benefited from a good editing to remove about a third of its ramblings, it is a better book than I thought after reading it the first time. J.K. Rowling should be commended for her skill in portraying Harry's teenage stroppyness, and for letting her little heroes grow up at all. How often in fiction do you get a hero who is simultaneously the leader of a vast underground army and a petulant kid who spurns the help of all who offer it and ends up responsible for the death of one of his most loved comrades? Yes, Order of the Phoenix may be dark, but it is gloriously so.

What’s more there is a great battle coming and the promise of a big revelation in the form of an as yet unheard prophecy. Why did Voldemort need to kill Harry when he was so young? And why exactly are they linked in the form of the scar on Harry’s head? In Order of the Phoenix we travel to the Ministry of Magic, and a St Mungo’s wizard hospital, take a ride on the back of an invisible Thestral, and travel with Hagrid in search of his fellow giants. New characters develop and come the end, we know far more about exactly where the series is heading.

7 out of 10

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