Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Book 16 of 2014: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

It seems like ages since I read the first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, before the beginning of my Children’s Literature course. It seemed somewhat fitting that once I finished with my course I moved on with reading the rest of the serious, which by this point meant reading the third in the series, the Prisoner of Azkaban.

This book sees Harry learning about his godfather, Sirius Black, a man who has spent the last decade in the wizarding prison, Azkaban. Harry also has a lot to contend with this year at school, even without Voldemort putting in an appearance. When Black escapes from prison the school plays host to Dementors, the prison guards, which cause him to hear his mother’s death whenever they’re nearby; he keeps on seeing a large black dog, leading him to suspect that he’s going to die soon; and there’s something not quite right about the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, well, as unusual as anyone at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is likely to be.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is easily one of my favourite books in the series. It has been ever since I first read it. I like that this one sort of starts to veer away from the pattern created by the first two by giving us a break from Voldemort being the bad guy of the story. I also love the way that everything gradually comes together within the story, like Hermione with the Time-Turner; I can see all the little hints there now, but I don’t think I caught what was going on during the first read-through.

One thing that really stood out to me while I was reading it this time was the fact that most of this book actually takes place within the same twenty-four hour timeframe, twice in some places. It seems like almost half of the book deals with the day of Buckbeak’s execution where the trio end up first ‘witnessing’ it and then heading into the Whomping Willow, and then going back with Harry and Hermione to see bits of it again as well as seeing what happened next. I think it just goes to show how well written the book is that I never really paid much attention to how much action is packed into such a short timeframe.

As at the time I’d been reading this, Mr Click and I had just had a marathon session watching the films (this was just around Easter time). Snape’s response to Sirius, thinking it was Sirius who had betrayed Lily (and James, not that Snape was too bothered about him) really resonated deeper with me. I like that Rowling puts in all these little hints about Snape’s feelings all the way through the series, but you don’t really get the pay-off for it until Deathly Hallows. Having watched the films and seeing the ending before reading this book, it made me feel differently towards Snape.

I put a little note in my Book Journal after finishing Prisoner of Azkaban that I was ‘Looking forward to rereading the rest.’ Since writing that I’ve read Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix as well as having rewatched the films as far as Goblet of Fire. I am enjoying rereading the books. In fact, as soon as I finish The Three Musketeers I’ll be onto Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Though at the rate I’m going you probably won’t get to read the review for that until about this time next year!

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