(Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, we are first introduced to the 11-year-old Harry Potter, who thinks he is “Just Harry” and nothing more.
A few pages into the book and we know that our “Just Harry” is the Chosen One – the boy who lived and defeated evil.
In her first book, J.K Rowling creates an ethereal world of goblins, centaurs and spells to take us on an exhilarating journey with Harry and his friends.
After an eventful year of brushing against his arch-nemesis Lord Voldemort, Harry returns at the Dursleys’ residence for the summer. As days pass by, all Harry wants is to get back to his home away from home – the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Things take a darker turn when Harry comes into his room (a step-up from the cubby under the stairs) only to find a strange impish creature warning Harry about the disaster that awaits him at Hogwarts.
What disaster could be the imp talking about? Fresh torments await Harry in his second year at Hogwarts while a new professor looks like bad news.
Who would Harry have to fight against this time? Will the Chosen One win?
What to expect from the book?
British author J.K. Rowling rolled out the second instalment of her septology in 1998. Rowling’s lucid prose interspersed with elaborations almost works like the Hogwarts Express.
Transporting you to the world where cupcakes float midair, and friendly ghosts greet the students as they enter the school hall. Need a trail ride? Let’s mount our magic brooms and zoom through the night sky, shall we?
So, what happens in this book?
Back at Hogwarts for his second year, Harry Potter suffers a terrible summer, courtesy of his presumptuous aunt and uncle and an irksome cousin.
The fact that his best friends haven’t written him letters despite the promise only makes it worse for Harry Potter.
One night, when Harry has been particularly asked to “behave”, he gets a visit from Dobby the house-elf. The cutest elf dressed in a ragged pillow cover comes with a grave warning – not to return to Hogwarts.
Ruckus ensues when Dobby admits that he confiscated the letters Hermione and Ron had written to Harry in an attempt to stop him from returning to school.
To take his ruse a step further, Dobby uses a magic spell to get Harry into trouble, fetching him a warning letter from the Ministry of Magic for using magic outside of school.
Alongside, the Dursleys were apoplectic with Harry for having ruined an important dinner party with Mr Dursleys’ boss. Thus, the inevitable happens – Harry is confined to his room with installed bars on his window and a cat flap in the door.
In the middle of the night, Ron and the trouble twins Fred and George come to rescue Harry in a FLYIN CAR!! When Harry and the Weasleys ‘apparate’ to Diagon Alley using the floo network to buy school books.
Harry comes across the flamboyant Gilderoy Lockhart – the newly appointed Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts.
They also lock eyes with the notorious Draco Malfoy and his father, leading to a passive-aggressive war of words.
On arrival at Hogwarts after a fun and adventurous ordeal (you will know when you read the book), Harry sets foot in Hogwarts.
The first lesson with the new professor Lockhart is a riot – a blend of a nincompoop of a teacher and a cage full of Cornish pixies spelling doom.
This brings us to Halloween night, when the famous trio Harry, Hermione and Ron find Filch’s cat, Mrs Norris, presumably dead.
Things only get more ominous from here – a message written with blood that reads, “The Chamber of Secrets has been opened, enemies of the heir beware.”
The real chase game begins when Professor McGonagall talks about Salazar Slytherin’s secret chamber.
She goes on to say that the chamber holds a monster that an heir of Slytherin can control and manipulate to purge the school of Mudbloods.
Post this, we see Dobby’s resurgence when he tries to scare off Harry with a bewitched Bludger, and the chosen one lands up in the hospital wing. Another revelation surfaces – Harry knows Parseltongue, a genetic hand-down in the Slytherin family.
While the trio suspect Draco as the heir of Slytherin, Harry is also put under the lens.
So, who is the real culprit who set the monster in the chamber of secrets loose? Is it Harry himself? You’d have to read the book to find out what happens next.
Should the book find a permanent place in your bookshelf or Kindle?
Now, coming to the book’s literary style and more, the more we say about the enticing narration, the less it is.
The book gives you a free ticket to feast on pies served in the Great Hall of Hogwarts, sail afloat beside the clouds in a flying Ford Anglia and dive down the dark history of Hogwarts and its founders.
One of the biggest strengths of this book is how the story builds up, giving the readers a well-rounded recap.
While you may miss the entrancement that you felt when you were first introduced to the magical world, the wizarding realm still has a lot in store for you.
Beyond magic, this book is the first step of delving deep into the abyss of the sorceries of Hogwarts and takes you a step closer to the ultimate answer key.
Rowling does an extraordinary job at how she deals with mystery and suspense. The maverick author also uses the magical world she has created to give her young readers a lesson about bullying and social and political classes.
So, the book teaches you a lot more than some new spells and the art of potion-making! Another noteworthy quality of the book is the comical relief, the Weasleys taking the mantle on them mostly in this case.
Another area where the book shines is how the characters (protagonists, supporting and antagonists) develop, with every character growing and learning to be better versions of themselves.
The climax and the final montage of this book is also more epic than its predecessor. The book sets a high benchmark for the fantasy genre while leaving the reader, asking for more answers.
Notable Awards and Recognitions
- Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was listed as a critical work of art among the novels in the 2000 Notable Children’s Books category by the American Library Association.
- The book was also nominated in the category Best Books for Young Adults.
- In 1999, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was suggested as an Editors’ Choice by Booklist.
- The book was also one of the Top Ten Fantasy Novels for Youth.
- The novel was shortlisted by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center in the “Fiction for Children” category in 2000.
- HP&TCOS also won the Children’s Book of the Year British Book Award in 1998.
- The book was nominated for the 1998 Carnegie Award and the Guardian Children’s Award.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was honoured with the Nestlé Smarties Book Prize in 1998.
My ratings: 4.4/5
The Chamber of Secrets lives up to the first instalment and expands the wizarding world, compelling us to invest ourselves in each character of the book. This book meets the goals Rowling set out to achieve as a successful sequel.
If you are a sucker for books that are “unputdownable”, this book is worth your time. And, in the world of Hogwarts, there is no way out until you stick to the end.
Stephanie Holmes has a diploma in Modern Literature and is a professional book critic hailing from London, the United Kingdom. She is also associated with the academic site MyAssignmenthelp.com where she offers assignment and paper help. Holmes is a certified bibliophile and a closet poet too.