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Book review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling

Harry and his friends really are growing up in the sixth instalment of the Harry Potter series. There is less mischief and a little more darkness in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as Harry and his friends try to find out just who is the ‘half-blood prince’ is.

When Harry discovers an old textbook marked with the name ‘the half-blood prince’ and annotated with advice, he can’t resist using it to help him ace his potions class. However, Hermione is anxious about his use of the spells written in the textbook, advising Harry against using them.

There is a sense of dread that Harry’s shortcut in the classroom will not end well. There is also an underlying anticipation of disaster as Dumbledore tries to prepare Harry to face the Dark Lord by using the Pensieve to look into people’s memories of Voldemort.

These passages are fascinating, introducing the reader to how Voldemort came to be the leader of the Death Eaters. This filling in gaps in the reader’s knowledge about the past is particularly fascinating, and left me wanting to know more – something JK Rowling is excellent at doing.

We are also introduced to the horcruxes as Dumbledore takes Harry to the lake of the Inferi – a truly terrifying part of the series. This section of the book is particularly frightening as it alludes to Dumbledore’s mortality and we first get the impression that Dumbledore may not be as invincible as it seems. It is a truly horrifying prospect, for both Harry, and for the reader.

During the climax of the story, Death Eaters invade Hogwarts, showing that the only place Harry considers home is not as safe as he had thought. This is a jarring and awful realization.

As in all of the previous books, JK Rowling shows that characters are complex and fallible, and it is hard to know who are the ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’. It is a message that is challenging for readers who like to know who the bad guys are, but is deeply satisfying and humane.

As I finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I started to feel a little sad that I was so close to the end of the series, and so I thought I’d take a little break before starting the final instalment.

I’m not sure how I’ll cope without Harry and co.

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