(Re)entering the Chamber of Secrets

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*Somewhat spoilery*

harry potter and the chamber of secretsLet’s get straight back into the world of Potter with the Chamber of Secrets. I love the start to this one- specifically because it is so horrible. Okay, that sounds wrong, but the dreadful Dursleys and Dobby’s cruel-to-be-kind schtick always make me feel so sorry for Harry. And while there is a recap, which I’ve never been crazy on, this was such a strong start.

In fact, book 2 takes everything that was awesome about book 1 and builds on it. The details are *amazing*- especially since we get to go to the Burrows and see what a wizarding household is like. I adore the immediate contrast between the rigid order of the Dursleys with the healthy bit of chaos at the Weasleys. Most notably, I love that moment when degnoming the garden is described as “boring work”- which expresses a gulf between what’s normal for wizards and what’s normal for muggles. Plus we get so much more in the way of world building thanks to this visit to the burrows, such as the use of Floo Powder, which ends up contributing to the Harry’s-suspicious-of-Malfoy subplot (I love how he’s both right and wrong on that score).

Everything about this plot is watertight and well thought out. With the introduction of Lockhart, there’s an expansion on the theme of celebrity, which really sets things up nicely for later books. Even more importantly, Chamber of Secrets adds to the topic of discrimination in a chilling way. I know that a lot of people view the later books as much darker, yet for me personally, this one is twisted in a way that makes me somewhat queasy. And normally that would make me dislike a book, but here it only enhances how I feel about it. There’s just something phenomenally on point about a narrative that focuses on the beast in the belly of the school rising up to create chaos (again, thanks Dr Peterson for that). It can be exceptionally fun to do a psychoanalytical reading of the basilisk and the clever messaging of “see no evil” (or at least don’t look directly at it), which it carries.

And as you might have guessed from my last review, I enjoyed psychoanalysing the characters too. A lot of the characters are expanded so well here. One thing that leapt out at me this time was how resentful Filch was because he’s a squib. I did make a note that Ron laughed at him for that- which definitely gives an insight into wizarding attitudes. On the flip side, he does stand up for muggleborns for the whole “mudblood” thing, even though he doesn’t get anything out of it (in fact he gets to eat slugs for his trouble), showing a more noble side. Still, I couldn’t help but love Hermione more for her principled stance in this one, coming up with sophisticated and brilliant plans to take on the heir of Slytherin.

Harry Potter, on the other hand… man, he can be a bit of an idiot. I know it was Ron’s idea to fly in the car, but on one level he certainly likes the idea of getting attention and is a very show-off move. Even if it does look great on the cover of the book, there were far better solutions other than, you know, casually breaking the law for no good reason. This may sound like an odd thing to say if you haven’t read/don’t remember the book, but it’s almost like he’s not smart enough to be the villain. The reason I mention it is because one of the best parts of this one is where Harry spends a huge amount of time worrying if he’s the heir of Slytherin. What I love about that is not just the friction it creates in the story where everyone (including Harry) is wondering whether he’s evil, but how it resolves with him proving his Gryffindor credentials once and for all. Even better, it undermines Voldy’s view of the importance of lineage (in fact, people who’ve read the rest of the series know exactly how it came about), because he has the capabilities to be the heir of Slytherin. And yet he chooses not to- in the wise words of Dumbledore: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities”. As far as I’m concerned, this is exactly right and is the perfect messageif only it had stuck with that *sigh*.

But rather than getting bogged down with what is to come, I have to say that this is quite possibly my favourite of all the books (though it’s pretty hard to choose). Yes, it may be spine-tinglingly scary at times, but there’s something to be said for a story that has me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Frankly, as grim as it gets, it reminds me why nothing makes me happier than books.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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So what do you think of Chamber of Secrets? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one!

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51 thoughts on “(Re)entering the Chamber of Secrets

  1. bookbeachbunny says:

    I love that bit about it being our choices over our abilities. You’re so right about the importance of that. I definitely enjoyed this book more the second time around but I thought the de-gnoming was so mean! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. everydaystrangeblog says:

    My favorite part of this book, and the series in general, is that Harry literally would be nowhere without his friends. And it first you think that it’s just Ron and Hermione, but by the end of the series you realize how many friends he truly does have, and how important they all are.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Lewington_Katie says:

    I read this again recently and was horrified by the Dursley’s! They starved Harry!? I think at times Rowling makes the characters into caricatures, so that really shocks. I loved the chapters at the Weasley’s house too. At least it gave Harry an example of a more sane family unit.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. thebookwormdrinketh says:

    This was probably one of my favourite Harry Potter books. Becafore it started to get pretty dark, but still with a lot going on… Plus, I love Lockhart. I love the “celebrity” professor…. Well, it doesn’t hurt that they cast Kenneth Branagh to play him in the movie… 💖💖😉

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Samantha Duffy says:

    Chamber of Secrets was always my favorite book, even when everyone swore by Prisoner of Azkaban. I agree with you though about the car. While it was cool, and obviously sets up a huge part later in the story by explaining how the car was in the Forbidden Forest, Ron and Harry taking the car to Hogwarts never made sense to me. It was the most far fetched thing about that book for me (and that is saying something about a book with Magic).

    Liked by 2 people

    • theorangutanlibrarian says:

      Totally get that!! And yes I really agree with you!! I mean, it made sense from a narrative point of view, but it was also slightly ridiculous (and looking back I kinda wondered why they weren’t expelled…. I mean I guess it has something to do with Harry being the “chosen one”, but still 😉 )

      Like

  6. Rachael says:

    When I was a kid reading this for the first time, I actually thought taking the car made the perfect sense. But that shows how much common sense I had back then. When the alternatives were pointed out to Harry and Ron in Snape’s office I was like, “Yeah, what they did was pretty stupid.” Maybe part of it, and this might be a stretch, is that Harry and Ron are impulsive for sure but also they don’t seem to like going to adults for help.
    I also tagged you to do the Cannoli Tag! I thought of you when I did it.
    https://thegreentealibrarian.wordpress.com/2018/05/13/cannoli-book-tag/

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beth (Reading Every Night) says:

    Great review for this book, I could never really pick my favourite Harry Potter book but The Chamber of Secrets is up there. The difference between the Weasleys and the Dursleys is definitely extreme, like Harry I preferred the Weasleys and I loved seeing more of the every day magic as well, like the de-gnoming and the floo powder travel!
    Again great review. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Anna @MyBookishDream says:

    Wonderful review! 😀 What I especially loved within this book is seeing the “everyday wizard life” while Harry was at the Weasleys. It was such a huge contrast to his life at the Dursleys. Also, seeing you talk about the Harry Potter books really makes me want to reread them. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Marina_Books of Magic says:

    This is the first HP I’d read, because my mom made a mistake and took that one out of the library for me, so it has always stuck as a special one for me, even though that movie is one I like the least (probably because I’ve seen it the most). I always thought of the last 3 books as the darker ones, but I can see your point now, with all the pureblood/mudblood division, and the fact it kind of plays out as a ‘murder’ mystery. 😀 To be honest, Harry is not my favorite character, and definitely not the brightest one either haha, and I hate his sulking and self-loathing which begins right about here,but there’s definitely a lot of good stuff in this one, like the explanation of the four houses and their founders, and the whole magical lineage thing, and the Burrows (I loved the degnoming part), and the ford anglia haha. 😀 Awesome review, can’t wait for the next one, because it’s one of my favorites! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Zezee says:

    yeeaa… this was once one my least liked of the series until the last time I reread it and then it went up a notch on the positive side. I didn’t like it much but I liked certain things about it like Ginny’s character. She acting so suspicious throughout but because the story didn’t focus on her, she was totally undetected. Rereading it, it became obvious that she was acting quite guilty. Like the time when Hermione got petrified and was in the hospital wing and then Ginny started sitting in the chair Hermione usually sat in.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. pajamapopcorn says:

    I think my favorite thing about this series is that it tells kids it’s okay to not be the best at everything. In an age where people are expected to be super smart or super good at sports, pretty, etc., it’s refreshing to always know there are different people with different skills that can all contribute to one society. I feel like all of Harry’s friends have those aspects about them that set them apart and they are stronger for it. In the end, they all use those things to help their world. When I read Harry for the first time, I felt like I could really identify with Hermione’s character. Not because she was smart. No. I didn’t think I was nearly as smart as she was. lol. I thought of her pouffy brown hair and her awkwardness and I thought, “That’s me.” I also remembered how kind she was, how insecure, how she tried to fit in but then realized she was “born to stand out.” That was me, too. I think there are a lot of kids who could look into Rowling’s books and see themselves in one or more of the characters. Harry does have a lot of great friends.

    Like

  12. Maddie A. says:

    I’ve never really been a fan of the Harry Potter series. I’m not sure why I just don’t LOVE it as much as other people do 🙂 But you brought up a lot of interesting points in this review that I didn’t really think about when I read it. I might have to reread the books sometime soon.
    I remember being very creeped out by the spiders though, I really don’t like them haha 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Kristina Steiner says:

    Shit, it would be hard to choose my favorite one. 🙂
    I love children’s books that educate on life, that show you rights and wrongs through characters. If I ever have a child, I’ll definitely put some quotes from HP in the room.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Nicole says:

    I do enjoy Chamber of Secrets, but Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite of the series. The beginning to Chamber just annoyed me *so much* that I didn’t enjoy the rest of the book as a result. (The part at The Burrow was great, but just about everything else leading up to stealing the flying car got on my nerves.) I have to say, though, I love the movie version of the stuff at the Dursleys’ house. That was such a good summation of what life there was like, and it was perfect. (One instance where I liked the movie better than the book.)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Winged Cynic says:

    Many people write this book off their least favorite, but I think it has to do with the uncomfortable-ness of it. I mean, it’s soooo creepy at times, and Harry has to face a lot of bullying, which doesn’t make it the most pleasant experience. However, I agree that he has a very nice character development (minus the “idiotic” choice to fly the car haha) and I can see why it’s a favorite of yours. Very nice review! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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