Harry has had a miserable summer. None of his friends have written to him and he wonders whether Hogwarts and the world of wizardry that he discovered the year before is just a dream. Four weeks before he is due to return to school he has a visit from Dobby the House Elf who warns him not to return to Hogwarts. And so we embark on another year at Hogwarts and another mystery — this time involving the Chamber of Secrets.
I enjoyed Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but not quite as much as I enjoyed the first book, mostly because of the clumsy recapping. The worst instance was when Colin and Harry are walking to the Quidditch pitch and Harry has to explain how it all works — it isn’t completely unforgiveable since Colin has only just started at Hogwarts, but I felt it was superfluous nonetheless, and this was not the only instance.
My other complaint was Gilderoy Lockhart — a very tiresome character who boasts constantly about his achievements. I can see how some people might regard him as humourous but I begrudged any of his ‘screentime’ and wished he hadn’t been introduced.
In this book the fright factor is increased. There is a spine chilling scene in the Forbidden Forest, especially if you are not that fond of spiders, and I still have nerves when Harry faces off against Tom Riddle. Some younger readers might well be scared.
Once again, the characters are fleshed out fantastically, even minor characters such as Lee Jordan (who commentates the Quidditch matches in a very entertaining manner). All of them are extremely memorable and, even in just this second book of the series, very familiar to the reader. It is a tribute to Rowling’s writing of these characters that I never mix up my Professor Sprout with my Professor Flitwick — each of the people who roam the wizarding world have their own characteristics and personalities.
The little details also charmed me. I love the fact that the students have to turn in essays of a certain length in inches on their rolled parchment, rather than word count or pages. I enjoy the Dickensian element of the story — the quills, the clothes, and the robes. The descriptions of the feasts are unbelievable — they make you wish you could be transported to eat there.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is not my favourite Harry Potter book, but it is still a great read!