Book review

Harry Potter And The
Order Of The Phoenix

J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter And The Order Of The PhoenixPicture the scene. Saturday 21st June, the longest day of the year, and an eager, rather immature 17 year-old races down the stairs in anticipation of the most hyped book in the history of publishing: Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix. At 766 pages it's a third longer than the last instalment and would easier fit through the window than my letterbox . . . but 11 days and numerous late nights later, I'm finished, and rather proud of my pace too.

So, is it any good then? Well . . . Rowling’s lavish writing as ever encapsulates the reader in a wondrous magical world, that it's honestly hard to leave. As ever, Harry's year begins miserably at the hands of the Dursleys, but things soon turn sinister at Privet Drive and another flick of the wand outside of Hogwarts lands Potter in hot wizarding water with the Ministry. And In the 180 pages it takes Harry to clear his name and return to Hogwarts, something darker and quite unexpected emerges. Harry is growing up. It would be so easy for J.K. to remain in the realms of 11 year-old fantasy, writing innocent tales with perfect characters, but the way she allows Harry to develop throughout Order Of The Phoenix - and mirrors the bleak, darker tone to portray the fear of Voldemort's return - bears the mark of a truly great storyteller, if any further proof was needed.
    The Harry we encounter is a much angrier, resentful, adolescent one; offloading regular outbursts to the rest of the cast. As opposed to being the Harry whose defeated Lord Voldemort three times and can do no wrong, his actions are now called into question, even by Hermione, as he is accused of "always trying to be the hero." And in keeping with this tone, as if mirroring Harry's mood, the ending is rather, well, depressing!

But it's not all doom and gloom. His fifth year at Hogwarts sees the return of some old favourites (Remus Luin, Gilderoy Lockhart) and a whole host of new - some delightful, some downright loathsome - characters. And with moments of laugh-out-loud humour and plenty of surprising revelations, book five offers plenty of familiar aspects for the veteran Potter reader.
    However, it does seem that Rowling is straying away from the typical Privet Drive-Hogwarts adventure-back to Privet Drive scenario. This year Harry takes in the Ministry Of Magic, 12 Grimmauld Place and St Mungo’s before the traditional end of book confrontation. But rather than actual battle, the climax of the book comes in the form of a revelation.
    As for the rest of the cast, Ron and Dumbledore take centre stage in this instalment, the latter's confession being pivotal to the plot. And who dies? You'll be surprised.

All in all it does not disappoint. Of course it has flaws: It is probably to long for a first time Potter reader, the death is rather vague and the revelation that is set to 'turn Harry's world upside down' is something we kinda already expected. But despite this, indulge in the storytelling, the startling revelations, the intricately woven plot and sub-plots and this book is worth its weight in Galleons. Another magical page-turner for all us muggles.

:: Jamie Larkin

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