Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K.Rowling
Created: Tue Mar 23 12:04:03 2010 | Last modified: Tue Mar 23 12:04:03 2010
This is the second book in the Harry Potter series, "Chamber of Secrets". In this book, Harry once again returns to Hogwarts, but this time, there is something sinister in the air and he finds himself right in the thick of things.
Following "Philosopher's Stone," "Chamber of Secrets" definitely takes some getting used to. For one, the atmosphere that Rowling builds is definitely much heavier and more suspenseful. From page one, the reader is taken right into the middle of the action and the story rattles along in typical Rowling fashion, though the tempo is much more measured and deliberate this time. I must admit that I was disappointed a bit by the fact that the 'magic' aspect of things doesn't amount to much and the real 'spell-casting' is restricted to a few scenes.
"Chamber of Secrets" is definitely a thriller and a suspenseful, heart-stopping one at that. This time, Rowling takes special care to make sure that her plot is weaved to good effect. There are certainly bizarre episodes in this book which add to the dark atmosphere surrounding Harry and the reader is entranced by it all. You are left turning pages at the rate of knots to find out who really is the heir of Slytherin... and a surprise awaits you in the end (which obviously I shall not reveal).
One of the things that I find in this book is that Rowling definitely has a ruthless streak in her. There is something cold-blooded about her narrative style that chills the reader and leaves behind a feeling of emptiness. Unlike typical writers of fantasy fiction, Rowling does not concentrate on the "fantasy" aspect of things and the book is essentially a different kind of "murder mystery" style book. The Malfoys too add the extra touch of cold-blooded cruelty which Rowling seems to delight in. Hermione is as bossy and petulant as ever and Ron seems to excel at irritating her. The difference is very clear. The innocence, simplicity, charm and warmth of an Enid Blyton book are missing. Rowling cannot reproduce those qualities: probably she doesn't mean to, anyway. This book is unsuitable for readers of a tender age: that much is certain. Certain episodes like Hermione's failed spell which half transforms her into a cat and Ron's slug-vomit fest all reveal a lack of sympathy on Rowling's part. She almost takes a delightful pleasure in inflicting pain and punishment upon her principal characters. Even the little bit of humour doesn't make you smile because you are simply buried too deep in the "heavy" atmosphere created by Rowling. In essence, one can say that Rowling does not care about introducing a 'feel-good' factor which would lighten things up considerably for the reader and also make her books suitable for a wider range of audiences.
Having said all that, Rowling holds on to her principal strengths: a strong, suspenseful story line that keeps you reading to the very end. And this time, the "evil" has a more definite role in the plot and more importantly, the characterization is better. Rowling is a great story-teller and she builds on the system that she constructed in "Philosopher's Stone" and also adds new aspects to it. This is definitely a must-read for fantasy fiction fans though, as I said before, the "fantasy" aspect of things is not highlighted too much.
I rate this 4/5. A must-read for all Harry Potter fans.