Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (#5) by JK Rowling

Published: 21st June 2003Goodreads badge
Bloomsbury Publishing
Pages: 766
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Dark times have come to Hogwarts. After the Dementors’ attack on his cousin Dudley, Harry Potter knows that Voldemort will stop at nothing to find him. There are many who deny the Dark Lord’s return, but Harry is not alone: a secret order gathers at Grimmauld Place to fight against the Dark forces. Harry must allow Professor Snape to teach him how to protect himself from Voldemort’s savage assaults on his mind. But they are growing stronger by the day and Harry is running out of time.

It is so easy to dub this book ‘the one where Harry is angry’, but rereading this, he has a valid point. He is frustrated no one believes him, he suffered a traumatic event and didn’t really get the support afterwards he needed, and the people he turns to for help aren’t helping him. Not to mention with all his bad dreams he probably has PTSD.

Personally, it’s about time Harry was overwhelmed with everything. In the other books he, admittedly, gets himself into these situations, but for once I think he was dragged into danger kicking and screaming in GoF. Now, in the aftermath, he’s trying to deal with it. There are so many one off scenes and sentences about Harry that break my heart. How can you not feel sorry for him? What’s great though is that people do call him out a lot, as good friends should, when he’s being unreasonable. He also learns to channel his frustrations into something productive which is excellent.

Rowling puts a lot into this story, which is why it’s the biggest of them all, but there is a lot to cover. There’s possibly less individual subplots going on, while a lot is happening it is all connected in some way. Our trio have exams coming up which is a focal point, reminding us they are still at a school and not just out saving the wizarding world all the time. There are also more wizarding world discoveries as the revolt against Voldemort reignites, we learn more about a few characters, and get some new villains.

Umbridge is a great villain because she is so unreasonable, and malicious just for the sake of it. She doesn’t have grand master plans to take over the world like Voldemort, she just likes being cruel and tormenting for fun. I found a previous review I’d written and was actually interested to see how much it changed. I mentioned that I thought this book was too political, and wasn’t my favourite, I did give it four stars though. Which is interesting because I remember thinking about it being too political with the Order and stuff, but rereading it that didn’t bother me as much. It’s quite curious how it changes.

Fun Facts

At 257,045 words it is the longest book in the series

First published on 20 June 2003

Cover art is by Jason Cockcroft

The book forged new pre-order records, with thousands of people queuing outside book stores to secure their copy at midnight.

In 2004 the book was cited as an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and as an American Library Association Notable Book.

The first official foreign translation of the book appeared in Vietnamese on 21 July 2003, when the first of twenty-two instalments was released.

The first official European translation appeared in Serbia and Montenegro in Serbian, by the official publisher Narodna Knjiga, in early September 2003.

It is the first book in the series to be released while the movies were being produced.

The phone number to get into the Ministry of Magic is 62442, which can be used to spell “magic” on a mobile phone.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (#4) by JK Rowling

Published: 8th July 2000Goodreads badge
Bloomsbury Publishing
Pages: 636
Format: Hardcover
Genre: Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

The summer holidays are dragging on and Harry Potter can’t wait for the start of the school year. It is his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and there are spells to be learnt and (unluckily) Potions and Divination lessons to be attended. But Harry can’t know that the atmosphere is darkening around him, and his worst enemy is preparing a fate that it seems will be inescapable.

This book was the tipping point in the series, it was the moment when things suddenly changed and everyone grew up a little bit faster. There is so much to love about this series, it’s got new information about the wizarding world, new characters to love, new adventures. I love that we get to see more magical events and everyday wizarding things. The World Cup and the TriWizard Tournament are incredible parts of the story, and I love reading about everyday wizarding life.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione are wonderful as always. When I reread the books I remember more how they’re only teenagers, and that they hang out with other teenagers and members of their houses much more than is shown in the movies. I love reading about shared common room experiences, and doing things with the other Weasley children. Plus with the introduction of two extra schools, it not only expands what we know, but also makes for interesting storytelling as the three schools come together.

Rowling delivers in terms of surprise and suspense. The Triwizard events were interesting enough, but with the added mystery of who put Harry’s name in the Goblet, and multiple little subplots to weave in-between it goes to a whole other level. After the break of a Voldemort free book three, book four returns the focus as rumours and mahem resurfaces about the Dark Lord. Rowling brings numerous big events together intricately, beautifully, and stylishly with all the impact and emotion they deserve. The gut-wrenching scenes and the anticipation is almost too much and Rowling uses her words well to conjure up a scene in your head as you read. You feel like you are there beside Harry, in these moments of fear and stress and triumph. It’s an incredible reading experience. No matter how many times I reread this I will never get over how amazing Rowling is at hiding secrets and offering slow reveals. Definitely one of my favourites books of the series.

Fun Facts

Is the fifth longest book at 190,637 words.

First published 8th July 2000

Cover art is by Giles Greenfield

The first book in the series to be released in the United States on the same date as the United Kingdom

To publicise the book, a special train named Hogwarts Express was organised by Bloomsbury, and run from King’s Cross to Perth, carrying J.K. Rowling, a consignment of books for her to sign and sell, also representatives of Bloomsbury and the press. The train departed from platform 1 at King’s Cross – which had been given “Platform 9 34” signs for the occasion

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (#3) by JK Rowling

Published: 8th July 1999Goodreads badge
Bloomsbury Publishing
Pages: 371
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts is full of new dangers. A convicted murderer, Sirius Black, has broken out of Azkaban prison, and it seems he’s after Harry. Now Hogwarts is being patrolled by the dementors, the Azkaban guards who are hunting Sirius. But Harry can’t imagine that Sirius or, for that matter, the evil Lord Voldemort could be more frightening than the dementors themselves, who have the terrible power to fill anyone they come across with aching loneliness and despair. Yet despite the relative safety of life at Hogwarts and the best efforts of the dementors, the threat of Sirius Black grows ever closer.

This is the book where we start to see the books getting longer as more detail is included. This is of course a good thing because with book three so much of the basic wizarding rules have been established and we’re secure in what we know about the world. With this story Rowling really takes advantage of this and takes on such a deep and detailed journey, not only through the expanding wizarding world, but into the past, learning more about the war and more information about Harry’s family.

As always with a Potter book there are surprises and unexpected twists, even now rereading it for the umpteenth time I still get nervous and worried as I read, despite knowing full well what is about to happen. Rowling immerses you so deeply into her world that you feel like you are falling into them as you read, surrounding yourself with the events on the page.

I always love reading about the daily schooling life, something the movies don’t focus on very much which is a shame but understandable. There’s also so much history and backstory revealed, as well as the typical Rowling hints that something is going on but we aren’t sure of what yet, no doubt to be revealed in a later chapter or even book.

There is a great sense of action and thrill through this book, the killer on the loose angle is paced wonderfully, and as I say, the twists Rowling throws in there are enough to keep you reading intently no matter ow many times you’ve read the same words before.

Fun Facts

It is the third longest book at 107,253 words.

First published 8 July 19999

Cover art is by Cliff Wright

Rowling started to write Prisoner of Azkaban the day after she finished Chamber of Secrets.

Sold more than 68,000 copies in the UK within three days of publication, which made it the fastest selling British book of the time

Won the 1999 Booklist Editors’ Choice Award plus numerous others

Most of the reviews were favourable, however one reviewer, Anthony Holden, who said that the characters are “all black-and-white”, and the “story-lines are predictable, the suspense minimal, the sentimentality cloying every page”

An illustrated edition will be released 3 October 2017, with illustrations by Jim Kay

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (#2) by JK Rowling

Published: 2nd July 1998Goodreads badge
Bloomsbury Publishing
Pages: 251
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny. But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone, or something, starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects: Harry Potter himself?

What I think is good about Harry Potter, is that Rowling manages to add new details and information that lead you in to the next book without you realising. It isn’t until a second or third reading you notice how new bits of information help the story in the following book. The writing is very easy to manage, the books do get longer but the language and writing style is simple but detailed and filled with meaning and substance which just adds to the greatness. This was not one of my favourites initially, there are others that trump it, but it has an immense amount of charm on its own merit. I think certain things like characters swayed my dislike initially, but I think given it’s been so many years since my first reading that they have all grown on me with odd appeal, but it’s still my least favourite overall.

One great thing about it is we get to see more of Hogwarts in this second book, we learn more about character histories, where they began and how they ended up as they are. Everything is being released slowly in trickles which keeps you engaged and give rise to a multitude of additional questions where only a few have been answered. Having knowledge of future books is interesting as you go, but I do remember being very curious as I struggled to try and piece everything together and guess where book three would lead me.

You certainly cannot read these out of order I don’t think, though there is enough basic recap in the first few chapters to warrant a basic understanding if you don’t. By book three I imagine it would be almost impossible to follow, but also I think going in order just adds to the complete world and story Rowling is trying to convey.

Reviewing these after becoming so familiar with them over the years is an odd experience. I know I probably am not doing it as I normally would, but these are only mini reviews and I feel like I am preaching to the choir, though I know people out there haven’t read the series. I think if you enjoyed the movies, the books are a must, there is such a depth and fascination of story and character that Rowling conveys, even in these shorter books, that are just a marvel to experience.

Fun Facts

It is the second shortest book at 85,141 words, but it’s the longest of the films.

First published 2nd July 1998.

Cover art is by Cliff Wright.

The Ford Anglia is actually the same color and model car that Rowling and her best friend from school used to ride around in when they were younger. She used the car for the book out of her fond memories driving in it.

Upon publication it immediately took first place in UK best-seller lists, displacing popular authors such as John Grisham, Tom Clancy, and Terry Pratchett, making Rowling the first author to win the British Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year for two years in succession

Listed among the 2000 Notable Children’s Books by the American Library Association

In 1999, Booklist named Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as one of its Editors’ Choices and put it in its Top Ten Fantasy Novels for Youth.

Shortlisted for the 1998 Guardian Children’s Award and the 1998 Carnegie Award.

Was the inaugural winner of the Children’s Book Award by the Scottish Arts Council in 1999.

An illustrated version was released in October 2016, with illustrations by Jim Kay.

This book has a strong connection with book six, with many crucial items first appearing in it. In fact, Half Blood Prince was the working title of Chamber of Secrets.

The novel implies that the story takes place in 1992/1993

Riddle’s name changes in translations so that an appropriate anagram could be formed, which results in Voldemort being called wonderful names like Martin and Trevor:
In French, his name is Tom Elvis Jedusor, which becomes Je suis Voldemort
In Spanish, his name became Tom Sorvolo Ryddle, which transforms into Soy Lord Voldemort
In Dutch, his name is Marten Asmodom Vilijn, which is an anagram for Mijn naam is Voldemort
In Turkish the name is Tom Marvoldo Riddle, which makes up Adim Lord Voldemort
In Brazilian Portuguese the name is Tom Servolo Riddle, which makes up Eis Lord Voldemort
In Danish, his name is Romeo G. Detlev Jr., which makes up Jeg er Voldemort
In Italian his name is Tom Orvoloson Riddle, which makes up Son io Lord Voldemort
In German his name is Tom Vorlost Riddle, which makes up Ist Lord Voldemort
In Icelandic his name is Trevor Délgome, which makes up Ég er Voldemort
In Swedish his name is Tom Gus Mervolo Dolder, which makes up Ego sum Lord Voldemort (which is actually in Latin)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (#1) by JK Rowling

Published: June 26th 1997Goodreads badge
Bloomsbury Publishing
Pages: 223
Format: Paperback
Genre: Fantasy
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

What Rowling has managed to do from her very first book, is create an entire world, history and character base, but she has also sneakily then refused to divulge any of it. Instead, we get snippets and trickles of information and acts, we learn as Harry learns, but we also get blocked when he does. What Rowling does not want us knowing, what Rowling does not need to tell us, we do not find out. This leads you very eagerly into the sequels I assure you.

What makes Harry as a character so charming is his age I think, but also his innocent naivety and contrasting instinct that he has to help. It’s a weird thing, this 11 year old, who never knew abut magic, the wizarding world, or about the feared He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, yet he still leaps almost instantly into saving it. It is the wonderful courage he has and the deep down sense that he should be doing it and it is his role. We certainly see enough of this reasoning later on.

There are clues hidden throughout, laughs and emotion, always a good combination. But we also get so much more than a basic introduction into a new world, we get enough but not everything, but we also get so much more than you probably ever expected.

The characters are quirky, charming, hilarious, and even the ones you dislike you enjoy reading about. There’s mystery but there’s also exploration of this new wizarding world as Rowling opens the reader up to all the possibilities while not overloading us. It’s the ideal balance of story and information, with more than enough left over to entice us to keep reading, mixed together with seamless precision. As an introduction to a series and a whole complicated world, Rowling has done an impeccable job.

Fun Facts

Written in numerous cafés around Edinburgh, including one called The Elephant House which has a plaque commemorating this.

Is 76 944 words, making it the shortest of the series.

Written between approximately June 1990 and some time in 1995.

First published 26 June 1997 by Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

Cover art was by Thomas Taylor. You can read a fascinating post about him and the cover here.

Called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the United States because US publisher Scholastic thought that a child wouldn’t buy a book with the word “philosopher” in the title. I mean, really.

The novel won most of the British book awards that were judged by children.

Reached the top of the New York Times list of best-selling fiction in August 1999 and stayed near the top of that list for much of 1999 and 2000.

It has been translated into at least sixty-seven other languages, all of which have gorgeous covers you can see here. (I particularly love the Italian one. Is there a scene where there is a moment with Harry wearing a giant rat hat? I also love the Spanish version because it makes Harry look like a child, unlike the English one where I’ve always thought he looks about 30.)

An illustrated version was released in October 2015, with illustrations by Jim Kay.

Prices for first edition first printings go up to around $6,500 with a selection between $4,000 and $5,000.

A first edition copy containing a rare typo is expected to fetch up to $34,000 at auction.