What is it about?
You know the drill by now – Harry Potter is starting his fifth year at Hogwarts, the Dursleys are horrible Muggles, and Voldermort is up to his old tricks. And yet it still manages to be a riveting, enjoyable ride. This year we see Harry dealing with love, giants, disgruntled centaurs, rogue Dementors, and the epitome of evil wrapped up in a pink cardigan. With the Ministry of Magic denying the revival of Lord Voldermort and implementing a cutback on defence classes, it is left to Harry to prepare his classmates for mobilisation against the Dark Lord – the only problem being that half the school thinks he’s lost his marbles (or should that be snitches?).
Is it any good?
The longest book in the series, I found this to be the least enjoyable of those that I have read so far. It just feels like it drags on for far too long; it lacks the wondrous magic of the early books that made me fall in love with the series; and the climactic scene in the subterranean Ministry of Magic feels like a big mess rather than a big battle. However, it still has the brilliant dialogue and characterisation that Rowling always brings to the table. There is also a much stronger focus on female characters (which I felt were ignored for the most part in previous books) with the introduction of Tonks, Luna Lovegood and Professor Umbridge (yes, she is evil, but she is also a key female figure), as well as the expansion of ready-existing female characters – Cho Chang, Ginny Weasley, Molly Weasley, Professor McGonagall and even Hermione Granger feels to be more important and less of the stereotypical silly little girl. The most enjoyable part of this mammoth novel for me was the chapter in which the principal characters take their OWLs (think magical GCSEs), a section which provides great comic relief and further insight into the expanded magical world as a whole. Another aspect of the novel that really grabbed me were the roles of both The Daily Prophet (a wizarding newspaper) and The Quibbler (a wizarding magazine) in giving a critical examination of the power of the press – or maybe that’s just the journalism student in me! Overall, this novel is hard work but is enjoyable if you persevere.
How long did it take to read: seven days
For fans of: Sherlock Holmes, Cassandra Clare, Merlin
This book tastes like: pineapple juice