Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

In my review of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I lamented what I perceived as a poorly paced plot progression. Thankfully, Rowling seems to have improved that flaw somewhat in her second novel. With readers already familiar with Harry and Hogwarts, Rowling was free to devote more time toward character development (though still not nearly as much as I’d like). However, I realize that Rowling was still writing mostly for children at this point and so can forgive her for not fleshing out her characters’ motivations more fully.

Unfortunately, while, stylistically, Chamber of Secretsis an improvement over its predecessor, it also happens to feature the majority of my most hated Harry Potter characters of all time. Dobby isn’t quite as insufferable as I remember finding him the first time around, but he still vies for one of the most annoying characters I’ve come across in fiction. Gilderoy Lockhart is probably my least favorite of the various professors

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

that Rowling introduces throughout the series (and yes, that is including Quirrell). Whereas Rowling tends to reveal import behind the presence of even the most insipid of characters for the most part, Lockhart’s buffoonery never plays a role in the grand scheme of things and is thus made even more tiresome. At least Moaning Myrtle helps Harry out a time or two, though her presence is never particularly welcome either.

On a positive note, Chamber of Secrets does see the introduction of Arthur Weasley and Lucius Malfoy, my two favorite Potter dads for entirely differing reasons. I’ve always been a bit charmed by Mr. Weasley’s fascination with all things Muggle. Rowling clearly intended for these two to act as foils for each other, one finding the possibilities inherent in study of foreign culture, the other scorning the necessity of acknowledging anything outside of his own world. It’s a tad disappointing that Lucius’s flowing locks were not actually Rowling’s idea (I believe I read that we have Jason Isaacs to thank for that wonderful detail). However, all of Lucius’s snarky disdain is present on the page, making his scenes some of my favorite in the book.

As it was the first time, so I believe Chamber of Secrets will wind up being my least favorite in the series on this second read-through. Still, it evidences the growth of Rowling’s skills to a degree and paves the way for fan-favorite Prisoner of Azkaban, which I will be tackling this coming weekend.

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