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Friday, June 14, 2024
The Observer

Harry Potter Book Review

In "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" we enter J.K. Rowling's magical world for one last grand adventure filled with triumphs, heartbreaks and, most importantly, love. In the 10 years since "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" was published in the U.K., Rowling's writing has grown more sophisticated and dark, making "Deathly Hallows" her finest work that, as always, can be devoured by all.

"Deathly Hallows" begins shortly after our favorite headmaster's tragic murder at the hands of Professor Severus Snape. Harry prepares to fulfill Dumbledore's last wish - to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes and to rid the world of the evil Lord Voldemort. As Voldemort's power and influence grows in the wizarding world, Harry's mission becomes ever more urgent. With the help of best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, he starts the journey he was destined to take since that fateful Halloween 16 years earlier. With Harry's parents and mentors now deceased, "Deathly Hallows" is the story of how the Boy Who Lived becomes a man.

Harry must overcome trials and obstacles as he and his friends hide in the countryside and search for clues that will lead them to the remaining Horcruxes. They must find ways to break into the Ministry of Magic and Gringotts, avoid saying Voldemort's name due to a hex put on it and fight off Death Eaters at every turn.

The seventh book is certainly the darkest. Faithful friends fall almost too frequently, but the Order of the Phoenix is at war and casualties are an unfortunate consequence. Death is a powerful theme in the Potter series, one that reaches its fruition in this latest installment as Harry learns of the Deathly Hallows - three objects that, if united, allow the beholder to conquer death. Harry already possesses one and faces the difficult decision of whether to seek out the others or destroy the Horcruxes as Dumbledore commanded.

However, just as death is a dominating theme, so is love. Love is what distinguishes Harry from Voldemort because love is the powerful magic that Voldemort does not understand. In a wizarding world without God, Rowling has made love the most powerful force by which all wizards must live their lives. There is love for friends, love for family and even love for subjugated magical creatures. Harry fights for a world in which love triumphs over death.

Rowlings' writing drags only momentarily. She spends too much time on Harry, Ron and Hermione camping from site to site, but "Deathly Hallows" is still filled with more action and suspense than the previous six books combined. Harry even faces Voldemort within the first moments of the book, and frequent escapes from Death Eaters become the norm.

The action culminates in the Battle of Hogwarts, in which Hogwarts students and the Order fight side by side against the Death Eaters as Harry searches for the last horcruxes before facing Voldemort - and perhaps his own death. Unfortunately, the climatic battle is the only taste of Hogwarts we get, but Rowling still manages to write a captivating Potter novel without the everyday exploits and zaniness of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

In 759 pages, Rowling creates a beautiful ending to a magical series. From Harry's final goodbye with the Dursleys to the emotionally charged Chapter 34, fans see Harry embrace the magic of love and become a man. The fitting epilogue answers some, but not all, of our questions. Because what would a Harry Potter book be without leaving us wanting more? The series ends with our imaginations running wild.

It's what Rowling does best.

And fortunately, "Deathly Hallows" is not goodbye because we can visit Harry and his friends whenever we want. Rowling's wizarding world awaits us in seven magical novels that will seldom collect dust on our bookshelves.