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Portable Magic

Reading, for me, is entertainment and an escape from the real world. But it can also inform and stretch the boundaries of the life I live.

Currently reading

The Bungalow Mystery
P.M. Carlson, Russell H. Tandy, Carolyn Keene
The Remains of the Day
Kazuo Ishiguro, Simon Prebble
Duel of Eagles: The Mexican and U.S. Fight for the Alamo
Jeff Long
Progress: 11/431 pages
The Secret of Shadow Ranch
Carolyn Keene
I am No One You Know
Joyce Carol Oates
The Return of the King
J.R.R. Tolkien, Rob Inglis
Progress: 13 %

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets ★★★★★

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré

Rereading complete, as part of a group read

I think I've figured out why this is my least favorite book in the series. In re-reading it, I was least interested in the action, the plot, or even in the three main characters. All my favorite parts were with the secondary adult characters: Gildaroy Lockhart, the Great Pretender who is hated by his far more competent colleagues and gets his comeuppance at the end; Snape, who is revealed as a good (and possibly dangerous) fighter as well as a mean and spiteful teacher and whose dark sense of humor is further revealed; McGonagall, who is also becoming more human and less of a strict schoolmarm caricature; and loveable, grandfatherly, Dumbledore, whom we can observe, with the knowledge the full series gives us,

giving Harry either half-truths or outright lying his ass off.

(show spoiler)



p. 288 "Professor McGonagall was still staring at him, and for a moment, Harry thought she was going to explode, but when she spoke, it was in a strangely croaky voice.

'Of course,' she said, and Harry, amazed, saw a tear glistening in her beady eye."

One of the things I love about Prof. McGonagall is the occasional glimpse we get of the real person behind the no-nonsense, grimly strict teacher persona that Harry usually perceives. Once in a while, she'll break character.



p. 189 "Snape's upper lip was curling. Harry wondered why Lockhart was still smiling; if Snape had been looking at him like that he'd have been running as fast as he could in the opposite direction."

Poor, clueless, Lockhart. He got off pretty easy.


p.145 "'Really, Severus,' said Professor McGonagall sharply, 'I see no reason to stop the boy playing Quidditch. This cat wasn't hit over the head with a broomstick.'"


As serious as she normally is, once in a while she'll come up with a smart ass remark that takes me by surprise and makes me laugh. I suspect that there are some entertaining exchanges between her and Snape in the teachers' lounge. One of the enormous plot holes that never made sense to me in this book is the whole issue of the Mandrake restorative draught. Why do they keep children in a petrified state for months while waiting for home-grown Mandrakes to mature? If the plant and its products are common enough to be taught to second-years, shouldn't they be able to obtain a draught from St. Mungos, or at least order some mature plants sent from a supplier?


p. 18  "'Friends who don't even write to Harry Potter?' said Dobby slyly."


Ah, Dobby. I've always had mixed feelings about him. His odd mixture of grovelling subservience, hero worship of Harry, and sly subversiveness is, I suppose, a bit of realism for an intelligent being who has been enslaved and mistreated his entire life. But his

willingness to injure Harry and to get him in trouble in order to achieve his own objectives

(show spoiler)

strikes me as... odd.


p.1 "'Do I look stupid?' snarled Uncle Vernon, a bit of fried egg dangling from his bushy mustache. 'I know what'll happen if that owl's let out.'"


I love the Dursleys and wish we got a little more of them than just at the opening of each book.


The Chamber of Secrets is probably my least favorite of all the HP books. I'm not sure why, though. Maybe I'll figure it out as I go through the re-read.