Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets Reviewed by Cynthia Hatfield-Garcia

Hardcover: Jun 1999, 341 pages.
Paperback: Aug 2000, 352 pages

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 Lockheart, 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!

After a miserable summer with his despicable aunt, uncle, and cousin, Harry is more than ready to return to Hogwarts for his second year. But a mysterious creature named Dobby warns Harry not to return to school, and causes trouble for Harry, using magic and getting him an official complaint from the Ministry of Magic.Rowling starts off the second Harry book with plenty of action, plunging Harry and Ron into trouble on their very first day back at Hogwarts; and then there's Dobby, popping up now and then, causing mayhem. I'm trying to avoid too much summary, because more than enough has been written already.
"Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" reveals some of the history of Hogwarts, and Voldemort's humble beginnings as a student there. If you've already read the series, you may make connections between some events in later books and events in this book, which is one reason I enjoy rereading the series at least once a year. It's fun to look for hints.The tone of this book is a little darker as the first, as Harry and his friends try to solve the mystery of the deadly Chamber of Secrets. There are plenty of funny moments though, thanks to the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Gilderoy Lockhart, who is an amusing airhead. My one complaint with this book is that Lockhart does get a little annoying, and I wanted to slap him sometimes; but I think that was the author's aim, so I can't complain too much.
Just like the first Harry book, "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" is a fun, quick read. It's a wonderful return to the magical world Rowling created.

Cynthia Hatfied-Garcia


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