Fantasy Young Adult

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – JK Rowling

19 February 2019
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2) Book Cover Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2)
Harry Potter
Rowling, J.K.
Juvenile Fiction
January 10, 2015

In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the summer after Harry’s first year at Hogwarts has been his worst summer ever… the Dursleys more distant and horrible than ever before. But just as he’s packing his bags to return to school, a creature named Dobby the house-elf announces that if Harry goes back to Hogwarts, disaster will strike. And it turns out, Dobby is right. Harry and Ron miss the Hogwarts Express, so they fly to school in a blue Ford Anglia, crash landing in the notorious Whomping Willow. Soon other worries accumulate: the outrageously stuck-up new professor Gilderoy Lockhart; a ghost named Moaning Myrtle, who haunts the girls' bathroom; the strange behavior of Ron's little sister, Ginny Weasley; rumors about the "Chamber of Secrets," a cavern buried deep below Hogwarts; and a magical diary owned by Tom Riddle, a Hogwarts student of long ago. Harry is also shocked to discover that he can speak Parseltongue, the language of snakes - a rare ability that Lord Voldemort also possessed - and that anti-Muggle prejudice exists in the Wizarding world, even affecting Harry's friend Hermione. But all of these seem like minor concerns when someone starts turning Hogwarts students to stone: an evildoer said to be the fearsome Heir of Salazar Slytherin, on of the founders of the school. Could it be Draco Malfoy, Harry's most poisonous rival? Could it be Hagrid whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one person everyone at Hogwarts most suspects: Harry Potter himself?


Here I am with The Chamber of Secrets, the second book of the Harry Potter series feeling the tightening grip of adoration, as I get ensnared in the glorious bewitching world created by JK Rowling. Certainly, the first book and now the second, primarily introduce us to the extensive cast of characters that inhabit this magical world. The background behind Hogwarts and the major divisions that shaped their history become apparent, and how they drive the plot over the entire series, is intelligently, delicately and profoundly imagined.

I love Rowling’s patience, the ability to subtly drop a piece of information that may not mean anything for a few books. To drip actions and comments that at some point in the future you’re saying “Oh, That’s what that was for.” – Genius. The relationship between Ginny and Harry is kindled in this book and we also meet Dobby and “Dobby is Harry Potter’s friend.” 

The background to Hogwarts and the 4 wizards and witches who founded it, is described, where each house was named after them: Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin. These names have become part of our reference, as in real-life people connect themselves to these houses and what type of person they wish to be. The rift and disagreements between Slytherin and the rest grew until Slytherin left the school. The history also states that

Slytherin had built a hidden chamber in the castle, of which the other founders knew nothing. ‘Slytherin, according to the legend, sealed the Chamber of Secrets so that none would be able to open it until his own true heir arrived at the school. The heir alone would be able to unseal the Chamber of Secrets, unleash the horror within, and use it to purge the school of all who were unworthy to study magic.’

That is a direct charge against Hermione and others who come from a muggles family yet she is the smartest student in her year at Hogwarts. We see the gradual ramping up of tension within the school and why Malfoy hates muggles calling them mudbloods. The relationships and bonds between Harry, Ron and Hermione are aspired to in most friendships and are very well formed here. On one incident they find Mrs Norris the caretaker’s cat petrified with the following words written on the wall.


The tension builds. A dark unseen force awaits. The brave, indomitable Harry Potter and his loyal friends, Ron and Hermione, will take this battle on – (view spoiler).

There is always an opportunity for humour either in what someone says or does (typically Ron and the other Weasleys), or characters that are strange and provide a comic outlet. In this book, Professor Lockhart provides that mix of cringe behaviour and comedy. His desire to receive praise and recognition, regardless of the fact that it is undeserved, and regularly exposed, except to those infatuated by his charisma, provides a light-hearted element. Funny how one person’s appeal is another’s repulsion.

The scene is set, the dark wizards, led by Voldemort (yet to be revealed), against those that provide defence against them, led by Dumbledore and somehow (yet to be revealed) Harry. When will Voldemort return? Why is Harry so important in all this? Will history repeat itself? Damn most of us know the ending but reading the books just brings so much craft and ingenuity into the story that reading them is a must. Someone will do a PhD on this series someday as the depth sits alongside Lord of the Rings. Bring on book 3, The Prisoner of Azkaban.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

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