Captivated by Prisoner of Azkaban

*I solemnly swear that there will be spoilers*

harry potter review

Harry_Potter_and_the_Prisoner_of_AzkabanAlohamora! So I actually read the first three in a row- I didn’t intend to, it just sort of happened, can’t imagine why 😉

The first thing I love about Prisoner of Azkaban is the contrast of the good birthday with the bad birthday in the last book. It shows how well these books are interconnected.  

Like Chamber of Secrets, there’s also a strong connection between the hero’s journey and the villain’s. In fact, in this one I’d say it’s even more pronounced, with the so-called baddie being a troublemaker at school and the added bonus of this being about Harry’s father. From beginning to end, it’s a deeply personal story.

In fact, this book explores his childhood trauma in both explicit and symbolic ways. The dementors, possibly the scariest of all Harry Potter creatures, are fantastic at showing how some people are more susceptible than others (not in a way that shows weakness, but that accounts for differences in personality and experiences).

Speaking of symbolism, I also love the use of boggarts- especially the idea that ridiculing something reduces your fear of it. I think Rowling is exactly right with this perception- it takes things much further than the idea that “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself”- because mocking something scary reduces the reverence you might have for it. So I do somewhat like how fear his handled here- although I don’t consider it especially wise to be afraid of fear. I know, I’m simultaneously disagreeing with both FDR and Lupin, but given how rash Harry is as a character anyway, someone should have told him that a) there’s nothing wrong with a healthy dose of fear if you don’t want to rush in blind to stupid situations (*cough* book 5 *cough cough*) and b) bravery is actually about overcoming fear.

But whatever, that doesn’t detract from how awesome this particular book is. Like the second book, Prisoner of Azkaban beautifully builds on the wizarding world. Best of all is Hogsmeade, made even more satisfying for having to wait for it. And I also love the use of self-references in the writing, like “could have produced the world’s best patronus” when Gryffindor wins the Quidditch final, which is pretty dang cool.

I also loved the characters- both new and old– especially Crookshanks and Buckbeak 😉 Okay, they may be animals, yet they are so full of personality! Plus they serve a great purpose, not only for the plot, but also for Hermione’s increasing interest in activism. Her development as a character takes such an interesting turn and shows what a huge heart she has. Basically, I think Hermione kinda rocked in this book.

Even better than that for me, this book introduces my favourite character in the whole series: Sirius Black. Now, I know this might be a funny thing to say considering I’ve not bothered with any of Harry Potter spinoffs, but I would love a Marauders book (not play/film/slam poetry event mind, a book written by Rowling). I am so emotionally invested in their story and I *adore* how it’s done. It’s why I can never pick between book 2 and 3. As horrible as it is to hear Sirius’ story, it’s also amazingly well done and I don’t think I’d ever have guessed the *plot twist*.

Sirius’ escape is, in the end, bittersweet. There’s a sense of Harry’s hopes of a normal family relationship flying off and my heart aches every time I reread that. At the same time, the book leaves behind the message that Harry has found his father in himself, and that those who are gone never truly leave us. Right now I am typing and retyping this sentence trying to put into words how perfect that moment is and I just can’t do it justice!! I think my feelings around it are something like: awwwww-arghhh-so-good!!

Once again, the book comes full circle, from Owl Post to Owl Post Again, making this structurally flawless. It’s no wonder I flew through it faster than the speed of a Firebolt.

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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*Mischief managed!* So what did you think of Prisoner of Azkaban? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!  

52 thoughts on “Captivated by Prisoner of Azkaban

  1. This was one of the better Potter books for me, too (and the movie). That thing with ridiculing the boggarts to reduce fear of them was very cool, particularly because it reminded me of something people do anyway to things they find threatening – Rowling really captured the essence of the human condition there – she is SUCH a genius writer in so many ways.

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  2. This is far and away my favourite book of the series. I loved Lupin so much but like you Sirius is my favourite character so I was always going to love the book that introduced him. I also thought the dementors were wonderful baddies. Supposedly neutral there’s something so sinister and creepy about them.

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  3. Ah, the book that introduced me to Sirius Black. 🙂 It gets bonus points just for that alone but I think like a lot of people this is probably my favorite. And Crookshanks and Buckbeak and Lupin! I love them all. And Harry’s happy ending being ripped away from him…
    You’re making me want to reread them again!

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  4. I loved your observation about the self-referencing “patronus” comment. Rowling’s world-building is so strong in this book, especially with ramping up the dangers, and getting us all salivating over Honeydukes. And her pacing/plotting is killer. Within this book, I still don’t question the time turner stuff because it’s just so fun and well-utilized and gawsh I feel like in later books they could have said they were all destroyed ? Anywho, I remember this was one of my earliest plot twist WHAT IN THE HECK moments because I just didn’t see the Scabbers reveal, just terrifying!!! And he’s in book one!!

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane. This book is fab. Year Four is my fave though!! Super excited to hear your thoughts on it.

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  5. I think this might be my favourite HP book although it really is a tough call. I just love it love the development and of course the introduction of Sirius and Lupin!! I just love them so much! Sirius is in m top 3 characters of the entire series he is amazing! A Marauders spin off would be EPIC!!

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  6. I absolutely love this book – probably my personal favorite out of the series along with Goblet of Fire – and your review has done a great job of specifying exactly what I love about it. I agree that it’s really cool to see this series begin to reference itself in certain ways. This is the book when I felt like the plot really began to take off and JK began getting really ambitious, which in turn made this series so memorable.

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  7. This is one of my favorite Potter books. I feel like it’s the turning point book in many ways. We see the characters all growing out of their old selves and we kind of get a glimpse that something bad is coming throughout. It’s very subtle, at first, but then screams at the end when Pettigrew escapes. I love all the new characters in this one. Lupin is probably my favorite because I’m like him in some ways. I also love the way he teaches. I wish he could’ve been my teacher. One of the things about the Riddikulus chapter: I have a chronic illness and I learned to cope with it by saying whatever it was making me think was ridiculous and untrue. I learned to laugh at my illness that way and I think it’s brilliant. I learned that from Harry Potter. I also love how Hermione stands up to Malfoy and others in this one. She’s really growing into herself as a person and I like how she changes. She’s not afraid to stand up for what she wants. But I do think the coolest thing about this book is that it doesn’t really involve Voldemort directly. It involves this foreboding…like we can see that Voldemort is coming at some point, but when? Where? And to me, that’s how life sometimes is. We can see a horrible thing coming. Or we think something might happen. But until it does, we just have to wait. Sometimes waiting is the hardest part. And now I’ve got that Tom Petty song stuck in my head.

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  8. I love this book so much!! One of my favorite characters in the series is Lupin. He’s had such a hard life, but he doesn’t let it make him become bitter towards the world. He’s thoughtful and empathetic and one of the best teachers at Hogwarts. I also love how Harry gets to learn a little bit more about his parents in this book, both from things Lupin tells him from what he experiencing when the Dementors get close to him.
    Also, Stan Shumpike. He’s not really that much of a character, but he’s wonderful.

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  9. Prisoner of Azkaban is my absolute favourite of the Harry Potter books! It’s well-paced, and the mystery is perfect! Everything gets set up nice and early, but you still find so much out at the end! I remeber reading it the first time as a child, and being so blown away by the ending that I ran and woke my parents, waving the book excitedly over my head, to tell them all about it!
    It was … late at night…
    I may have been reading it under the covers with a torch…
    They were unimpressed…

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  10. It’s so funny because throughout the rest of the series, I was waiting for Crookshanks to be revealed as someone else (an Animagus) but it never happened! I don’t know if I am the only one who thought that, but it felt like something that should have been…
    While I do love this book, Chamber of Secrets always won out for me. And that pissed a lot of people off for some reason! But who knows. AWESOME analysis of this book :] I am really loving these posts! I can’t wait to read more!

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  11. Totally agree, Hermione was SO BADASS in this book! And Sirius is my favourite too!!! I know you said you wanted a book by JKR, but there’s a killer Marauders fanfiction called The Life and Times (that unfortunately never finished 😭😭 ).

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  12. Another great re-review! I’m enjoying your sharing of tidbits that I honestly didn’t pick up on my own granted I’ve only read the books once through and I was a teenager who was just looking to drink the books not really analyze them then ;). I do remember the movie however and that time-tuner bit was so brilliant. A scene I’d never forget. Also, huge fan Sirius Black so you can imagine getting to Order of the Phoniex and getting totally shell shocked. Anyway, look forward to Goblet of Fire re-review! 🙂

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  13. Great review for this book, and I’m really not surprised you flew through the first three so quickly. Granted I haven’t read the books myself in a while but I still have fond memories and I imagine when I get around to picking them up again I’ll speed through them as well.
    I loved Sirius’s character, and I agree with you about how his ending was bittersweet in this book (and in the series) it’s like Harry finally gets his family only to lose it again.
    Also I’d LOVE a Marauders spin off, can we get someone on that like right away?
    Again great review. 🙂 ❤

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  14. The books honestly kept getting better and better!! I think the peak for me was reached in book 4, but book 6 was my favourite of all of them. I really grew to love Sirius, which I honestly didn’t think I would. And I really like the way the wizards are taught to handle them. Love your review!! Can’t wait to read the others

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  15. This is my favorite of the Potter books, hands down. (Though I disagree with several of the choices made in the movie, especially that horrible ending.)

    I read a thing on social media somewhere that — SPOILERS — said the reason Harry was more affected by the dementors was because at that time he had two souls inside him, his own and a part of Voldemort’s.

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  16. This is my favorite book in the series! And Sirius is my favorite character! I do love all the magical things we’re introduced to in this book and how the world starts to expand a little so we see both the wonder of Hogsmeade and the darkness of Azkaban. It’s a book that’s so wonderfully balanced between CoS and GoF, keeping the initial awe of magic but also signalling that the wizarding world is pretty scary sometimes.

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  17. Wahh! Sounds like this is the best one of the whole series. And if I stand correct.. things are going to go downhill from here on out? 😀 Looking forward to the next reviews! Keep up the awesome nostalgic reviews. 🙂

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  18. Hermione rocks in *all* the books! I’m currently working my way through the Potter books with my 7 year old daughter (we’re on Order of the Phoenix… which is a LONG book to have to read out loud, especially if several months ago, on book 1 you started doing voices and now have to maintain them. I digress…) and it’s fascinating to watch her soaking it up – she’s a huge Hermione fan, though wants to be in Ravenclaw not Gryffindor. I was in my late teens when the books came out so, while I read and enjoyed them, didn’t quite get into them in the same way as I suspect I would have if I’d been a bit younger, and as she clearly is doing. It’s an understatement to say she’s a BIT obsessed!

    I think this is the book where it starts going from “some adventure stories about kid wizards” to “a really long and complicated, rich wonderful story with lots of subplots, backstories and twists”, and I think that’s why I really like this particular book (more than Philosopher’s Stone or Chamber of Secrets, say). The bit where Harry realizes he isn’t going to go and live with Sirius gets me too 😦

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  19. This is my favorite of the books too and introduces my favorite character—Remus Lupin. His journey is somewhat more murky, but his experience is one that reveals that the wizarding world has irrational prejudices just like the Muggle world. Werewolves aren’t the only ones who suffer discrimination, but his experience adds depth—part of Rowling’s brilliance.

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    1. And yet (he added, having hit Enter too soon) it wasn’t until I read your review that I realized I haven’t given enough attention to the boggarts. The depth really highlights Rowling’s brilliance.

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  20. Amazing breakdown! This is my favorite book (maybe minus Goblet of Fire) in the series, and I agree that for Harry, a bit more fear and caution might do him good haha. And yessss, Sirius’ escape devastated me as a child, but it’s such a bittersweet ending! I totally agree they need to make a Marauder’s story as well (I kind of would’ve preferred that to the Fantastic Beasts thing they’re doing now) because their story seriously breaks my heart. It would make for such an amazing series slash movie franchise!!

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  21. Argh!! One of my all-time favourite books, however, Deathly Hallows scores a little higher. I love that Harry got even for a small time to image himself with family and that after years of abuse he finally had someone that he knew had never stopped loving him. My heart just flies everytime I read it.
    You are so right Hermione did dominate this book! She showed her brains and her ferocity. Her Gryffindor came right out of the page! She is the literary character I have always aspired to be like.
    Sirius is also one of my favourite characters. I just love him and his mischievous nature, which is why he made me cry the most… In fact, all the Mauraders made me cry at some point. Was that the point?
    Crookshanks is an awesome addition, and I so wish he had gotten his moment of glory in the movie. Sadly he was left as just the cat that would have saved a lot of lives if he had just eaten the rat!
    Wonderful review!

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  22. I actually never picked up on the meaning behind “Riddikulus.” The idea of ridiculing our fears is a great tip on how to overcome fear. Now it’s making me think of expecto patronum… in our moments of grief and despair or when we anticipate it’s nearing, we must summon our happiest memories to dispel it and our patronuses is the representation of our soul to battle these demons. A lot to think about. 🧐

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