Together with The Prisoner of Azkaban, The Chamber of Secrets is my favourite book of the Harry Potter series. I simply loved the fact that it proved the first book wasn’t just a dream and it was a wonderful promise that there would be so much more to discover in the wizarding world.
The Philosopher’s Stone is simply magical and it sweeps us away to Harry’s wondrous world. He is only juststarting to discover everything as he goes along and it is utterly touching to follow him on his journey to find “home”, even though he wasn’t aware he had been looking for it. He does find it in Hogwarts. And that is why in some ways I think the second book is the darkest year at Hogwarts.
Hogwarts is at stake. Harry and we have grown to love it, but it’s always at risk this year, as students are being attacked and a monster seems to be on the loose. The danger is palpable and real. In Harry’s first year he is only just introduced into the world of magic and it’s only in the end that we see the mystery Harry, Ron and Hermione have been after is actually connected to Voldemort. Harry starts his second year thinking all is well and he will return home after the holidays. But with attacks on Muggleborns dark secrets are starting to surface and Harry is in constant danger of losing the only place he ever felt he belonged to.
I think that is what makes the book somehow darker. Year 7 isn’t a Hogwarts year, so I would really say this is Harry’s “openly” most dangerous year. He is of course alsways caught up in adventures, but the threat seems much more close to home here. After this book, Harry seems so used to uncommon occurences and adventures, but it is still something very special (and also personal) here in part 2.
Still, The Chamber of Secrets is of course again full of humour. Gilderoy Lockhart is simply gold and one of my favourite small scenes in the entire series is actually this little comment after Harry has broken his arm at Quidditch:
“He came round, rain falling on his face, still lying on the pitch, with someone leaning over him. He saw a glitter of teeth.
‘Oh no, not you,’ he moaned.”
Classic 🙂 Lockhart is so annoying, you really love to hate him.
I also loved the mystery part again. J K Rowling really knows how to build tension and I simply adore her imagination. I still remember how awed I was by the scene when Harry gets sucked into the diary. A diary that writes back – genius! I also loved the plot twist at the end. I never see ANYTHING coming… The showdown really gripped me on my first read. I was more than aware that there were more books coming called “Harry Potter and…”, yet when Harry is poisoned and thinks he is going to die, I cried. I just completely bought into the story at that moment. Yes, I am VERY naive, but I think it also shows how well the story can draw people in. Not many books can make you forget about the “market” and the real world, so I think it’s quite an accomplishment for a writer to craft such an excellent world.
I always enjoy the plot twists in Harry Potter and the final chapters of The Chamber of Secrets certainly had a few surprises in store. J K Rowling is brilliant at setting things up properly without actually giving too much away. It is amazing how many little remarks, names or places already come up in one of the earlier books in the series that become very relevant later on in the story, especially in The Deathly Hallows. It’s also really interesting to follow characters through the books, knowing what their journey is and what will happen to them later.
I can’t help but be amazed at how accurately J K Rowling is portraying Harry and his friends at their age. When I was reading the first books for the first time I was around the characters’ age (give or take, of course). I was at school, like them, and I just felt really connected to them on a mental level, if that is possible. And I actually grew up with them. Now some years later down the line, I think I haven’t changed much, but then I read the books again and am reminded of how I used to be when I first read them. Homework used to be so important, school was the centre of my life, I saw my friends every day, then we maybe had a difficult lesson once in a while… I had a completely different focus. So I find it absolutely amazing how Rowling has managed to capture the teenage mindset so well. Harry and his friends are truly growing up throughout the books.
All in all, The Chamber of Secrets means a lot to me as a book. It takes us deeper into the magical world and before we know it we are inside a new and darker mystery. It’s that first drop of knowledge in the well of innocence and that makes it very poignant. I love re-reading the series and reliving my past in a way at the same time. Harry Potter is so connected with my life and it will always be a part of it.