Rowling - Book Reviews

***** - Excellent
**** - Good
*** - Okay
** - Bad
* - Terrible
+ - Half-star

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
(The Harry Potter series, Book 1)
J.K. Rowling
Scholastic
Fiction, YA Fantasy
****+

DESCRIPTION: Harry Potter is the sole survivor of an evil wizard's attack that killed his magically gifted parents. Sent to live with his nonmagical (or "Muggle") aunt and uncle, the Dursleys, who are decidedly against Harry and anything even slightly deviating from their own frightfully narrow view of the norm, he grows up in miserable conditions. Through his family's conniving, he is unaware of his own powers and history, until one day a strange and persistent letter arrives at last in his hands. Soon, he is off to study magic at the prestigious school of Hogwarts. Leaving the mundane world to claim his mystical birthright is going to be a real adventure... and a real danger.

REVIEW: I rated this based largely on how a child might view it, though I enjoyed Harry Potter's adventures myself. A nice, whimsical tale, it is full of magic and silliness, but also with some darkness and gloom. From all the reviews I'd read, I expected a touch more depth, but all in all I was satisfied by this story. Harry Potter's adventures seem destined to be the sort of books future generations will remember being read to them as children; stories which, unlike many, will actually stand up to those memories when they can finally read them for themselves.

You might also enjoy:
Breaking Deluce (Chad Campbell, YA Fiction - A teen girl finds herself hunted for powers she doesn't know she possesses)
The Artemis Fowl series (Eoin Colfer, YA Fiction - A boy criminal mastermind sets his sights on the treasures of the underground Fairy nation)
The Magic Shop books (Bruce Coville, YA Fiction - Children in need of help find their way to a mysterious magic shop)
Hatching Magic and The Dragon of Never-Was (Ann Downer, YA Fiction - A modern Boston girl's encounter with a medieval wizard's pet wyvern awakens her own latent powers)
Daughter of Mythos (Melissa Drake, YA Fiction - A foster teen learns she is from a parallel, magical world)
Nightingale (David Farland, YA Fiction - A foster teen unknowingly belongs to a secret, superior human subspecies)
The Stoneheart trilogy (Charlie Fletcher, YA Fiction - When he breaks a stone dragon in a fit of anger, a modern London boy finds himself plunged into the middle of the invisible war between the city's gargoyles and statues)
Teller (Chris Howard, YA Fiction - A teen boy learns he can manipulate reality with stories and paintings)
The Divide (Elizabeth Kay, YA Fiction - A sickly boy accidentally falls into a world where magic is real and humans are myths)
The Sorcerer's Companion: A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter (Allan Zola Kronzek & Elizabeth Kronzek, Nonfiction - A guide to the real-world inspirations for Rowling's hit series)
The Fire Rose (Mercedes Lackey, Fiction - A scholarly woman, employed by a deformed California railway baron, discovers the secret of elmental mages hiding in plain sight in turn-of-the-century America)
The Elemental Masters series (Mercedes Lackey, Fiction - The civilized world of the late 1800's hides many powerful elemental mages and their rivalries)
The Earthsea Cycle (Ursula K. LeGuin, YA Fiction - A boy becomes a wizard in a land of sea and island)
The Unwanteds (Lisa McMann, YA fiction - A brutal dictatorship culls creative teens, who find refuge in a hidden magical sanctuary)
The Seventh Tower series (Garth Nix, YA Fiction - In a world of light magic and shadow servants, a boy seeks a cure for his ailing mother, finding a terrible truth and dark enemies after his family)
The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica (James A. Owen, YA Fiction - Three soon-to-be-famed authors find themselves in the magical Archipelago of Dreams, inspiration of myth and story since time began)
Witch & Wizard (James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet, YA Fiction - Two teens in a modern dictatorship are imprisoned for powers they don't know they have)
The Diadem series (John Peel, YA Fiction - Abducted from their homeworlds by a riddle-speaking messenger, three children learn of their magical talents and powerful destiny)
The Circle of Magic quartet (Tamora Pierce, YA Fiction - Four children with elusive gifts must learn to trust their magic, and each other)
Mystics #1: The Seventh Sense (Kim Richardson, YA Fiction - An orphan girl can see invisible monsters, some of whom seem to be hunting her down)
The Red Pyramid (Rick Riordan, YA Fiction - When their father unleashes imprisoned Egyptian gods, two kids may be all that stands between the modern world and an age of chaos)
The Percy Jackson & the Olympians series (Rick Riordan, YA Fiction - A boy learns that Greek gods and monsters still exist in the modern world)
Guardians Inc.: The Cypher (Julian Rosado-Machain, YA Fiction - Able to understand any written language, a boy is recruited by a secret organization to help save the world)
A School for Sorcery (E. Rose Sabin, YA Fiction - A girl gets a rare chance to develop her talents at a prestigious boarding school for mages)
The Septimus Heap series (Angie Sage, YA Fiction - A corrupted ruler seeks to destroy the once-powerful wizards of his realm)
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Brandon Sanderson, YA Fiction - A boy discovers that the true nature of the world has been kept hidden by an insidious cult of evil librarians)
The Alchemyst (Michael Scott, YA Fiction - Modern American twins are pulled into a magical struggle involving godlike Elders, monsters, and immortal mages)
The Wizardology books (Dugald A. Steer, YA Fiction - Exploring the world of wizards)
A College of Magics (Caroline Stevermer, YA Fiction - The heiress to a small duchy is sent to a magical college, where her family's rival awaits)
The Bartimaeus series (Jonathan Stroud, YA Fiction - A humiliated apprentice summons a djinni for vengeance, but learns he's in for more than he bargained for)
The Wretched of Muirwood (Jeff Wheeler, YA Fiction - An orphan girl, living at a magical abbey, becomes entangled in world-changing events)
Kasey And His Dragon (E. H. White, YA Fiction - A modern boy finds a dragon's egg, sweeping him off to his destiny in another world)
The 100 Cupboards trilogy (N. D. Wilson, YA Fiction - When he finds magical little doors leading to other worlds, a boy unlocks a secret about his uncle - and himself)
Wizard's Hall (Jane Yolen, YA Fiction - A boy of dubious talent enrolls in a school of magic)
The Young Merlin trilogy (Jane Yolen, YA Fiction - A wild-born boy learns of his magic and his destiny)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Widescreen Edition) (2001 movie DVD)

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
(The Harry Potter series, Book 2)
J.K. Rowling
Scholastic
Fiction, YA Fantasy
*****

DESCRIPTION: After a miserable summer with his Muggle family, the Dursleys, the young wizard Harry Potter is dying to go back to the wizarding school of Hogwarts for his second year. Then, a strange little creature arrives, warning him that he would be in extreme danger if he does go back. After his perilous first year, Potter doubts that. Besides, what danger at Hogwarts could possibly be worse than living with the Dursleys? Things start to go wrong from the moment he tries to get to the Hogwarts train through the magical barrier at the Nine and Three-Quarters platform... and finds the way inexplicably blocked. Soon, Harry and his friends from the Gryffindor house - the Weasley boys and Hermione - are facing troubles far worse than their Potions master Snape and Draco Malfoy's band of House Slytherin goons. Classmates are found frozen in a state of living death, and rumors of the legendary Chamber of Secrets surface again. Has the long-rumored Heir to Slytherin returned, releasing the unnamed horrors within the Chamber? Could it be that the Heir is Harry himself?

REVIEW: Much like the first book, I loved it and couldn't put it down, but can't lay a finger on why. Likeable characters, despicable villains, and a charming air make this a worthy sequel to the widely- and justly-acclaimed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. While much of the tale is stand-alone, many elements are expanding on things mentioned in the first book, so I don't recommend reading the Harry Potter series out of sequence. As another note, I have read where J. K. Rowling is planning to write about six Potter books. I hope that the Dursleys make a final exit in one soon, or at the very least are relegated to distant background status. They're a one-trick pony: the oppresive, anti-magic and anti-Harry family who exists only so Potter can yearn for the freedom of Hogwarts.

You might also enjoy:
Breaking Deluce (Chad Campbell, YA Fiction - A teen girl finds herself hunted for powers she doesn't know she possesses)
The Artemis Fowl series (Eoin Colfer, YA Fiction - A boy criminal mastermind sets his sights on the treasures of the underground Fairy nation)
The Magic Shop books (Bruce Coville, YA Fiction - Children in need of help find their way to a mysterious magic shop)
Hatching Magic and The Dragon of Never-Was (Ann Downer, YA Fiction - A modern Boston girl's encounter with a medieval wizard's pet wyvern awakens her own latent powers)
Daughter of Mythos (Melissa Drake, YA Fiction - A foster teen learns she is from a parallel, magical world)
Nightingale (David Farland, YA Fiction - A foster teen unknowingly belongs to a secret, superior human subspecies)
The Stoneheart trilogy (Charlie Fletcher, YA Fiction - When he breaks a stone dragon in a fit of anger, a modern London boy finds himself plunged into the middle of the invisible war between the city's gargoyles and statues)
Teller (Chris Howard, YA Fiction - A teen boy learns he can manipulate reality with stories and paintings)
The Divide (Elizabeth Kay, YA Fiction - A sickly boy accidentally falls into a world where magic is real and humans are myths)
The Sorcerer's Companion: A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter (Allan Zola Kronzek & Elizabeth Kronzek, Nonfiction - A guide to the real-world inspirations for Rowling's hit series)
The Fire Rose (Mercedes Lackey, Fiction - A scholarly woman, employed by a deformed California railway baron, discovers the secret of elmental mages hiding in plain sight in turn-of-the-century America)
The Elemental Masters series (Mercedes Lackey, Fiction - The civilized world of the late 1800's hides many powerful elemental mages and their rivalries)
The Earthsea Cycle (Ursula K. LeGuin, YA Fiction - A boy becomes a wizard in a land of sea and island)
The Unwanteds (Lisa McMann, YA fiction - A brutal dictatorship culls creative teens, who find refuge in a hidden magical sanctuary)
The Seventh Tower series (Garth Nix, YA Fiction - In a world of light magic and shadow servants, a boy seeks a cure for his ailing mother, finding a terrible truth and dark enemies after his family)
The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica (James A. Owen, YA Fiction - Three soon-to-be-famed authors find themselves in the magical Archipelago of Dreams, inspiration of myth and story since time began)
Witch & Wizard (James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet, YA Fiction - Two teens in a modern dictatorship are imprisoned for powers they don't know they have)
The Diadem series (John Peel, YA Fiction - Abducted from their homeworlds by a riddle-speaking messenger, three children learn of their magical talents and powerful destiny)
The Circle of Magic quartet (Tamora Pierce, YA Fiction - Four children with elusive gifts must learn to trust their magic, and each other)
Mystics #1: The Seventh Sense (Kim Richardson, YA Fiction - An orphan girl can see invisible monsters, some of whom seem to be hunting her down)
The Red Pyramid (Rick Riordan, YA Fiction - When their father unleashes imprisoned Egyptian gods, two kids may be all that stands between the modern world and an age of chaos)
The Percy Jackson & the Olympians series (Rick Riordan, YA Fiction - A boy learns that Greek gods and monsters still exist in the modern world)
Guardians Inc.: The Cypher (Julian Rosado-Machain, YA Fiction - Able to understand any written language, a boy is recruited by a secret organization to help save the world)
A School for Sorcery (E. Rose Sabin, YA Fiction - A girl gets a rare chance to develop her talents at a prestigious boarding school for mages)
The Septimus Heap series (Angie Sage, YA Fiction - A corrupted ruler seeks to destroy the once-powerful wizards of his realm)
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Brandon Sanderson, YA Fiction - A boy discovers that the true nature of the world has been kept hidden by an insidious cult of evil librarians)
The Alchemyst (Michael Scott, YA Fiction - Modern American twins are pulled into a magical struggle involving godlike Elders, monsters, and immortal mages)
The Wizardology books (Dugald A. Steer, YA Fiction - Exploring the world of wizards)
A College of Magics (Caroline Stevermer, YA Fiction - The heiress to a small duchy is sent to a magical college, where her family's rival awaits)
The Bartimaeus series (Jonathan Stroud, YA Fiction - A humiliated apprentice summons a djinni for vengeance, but learns he's in for more than he bargained for)
The Wretched of Muirwood (Jeff Wheeler, YA Fiction - An orphan girl, living at a magical abbey, becomes entangled in world-changing events)
Kasey And His Dragon (E. H. White, YA Fiction - A modern boy finds a dragon's egg, sweeping him off to his destiny in another world)
The 100 Cupboards trilogy (N. D. Wilson, YA Fiction - When he finds magical little doors leading to other worlds, a boy unlocks a secret about his uncle - and himself)
Wizard's Hall (Jane Yolen, YA Fiction - A boy of dubious talent enrolls in a school of magic)
The Young Merlin trilogy (Jane Yolen, YA Fiction - A wild-born boy learns of his magic and his destiny)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Widescreen Edition) (2002 movie DVD)

Return to Top of Page - Return to Book Review List


Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
(The Harry Potter series, Book 3)
J.K. Rowling
Scholastic
Fiction, YA Fantasy
*****

DESCRIPTION: Harry's third year at Hogwarts is off to an interesting start, and not in a good way. Two weeks before his return, a dangerous criminal escapes from the wizards' prison of Azkaban: Sirius Black. Not only is this man wanted for the murder of a wizard and twelve Muggles in cold blood, but he was a servant of Lord Voldemort. Rumor says Black was the one who sold out Potter's parents to the dark wizard. Now that the criminal is free, it seems that his only goal is reaching Harry Potter, the boy who shattered the powers of Voldemort. Neither time nor magic nor the twisted dementors, guardians of Azkaban, can keep Black out of Hogwarts. Has Harry's luck run out at last?

REVIEW: Still has the whimsical, endearing qualities of the first two books, but with progressively more depth and darkness. As the target audience grows older and more sophisticated, so do Rowling's books. I do wonder if every adventure of Harry's is going to tie in to his parents, however. Rowling is definitely building toward something, each story adding pieces to the puzzle.

You might also enjoy:
Breaking Deluce (Chad Campbell, YA Fiction - A teen girl finds herself hunted for powers she doesn't know she possesses)
The Artemis Fowl series (Eoin Colfer, YA Fiction - A boy criminal mastermind sets his sights on the treasures of the underground Fairy nation)
The Magic Shop books (Bruce Coville, YA Fiction - Children in need of help find their way to a mysterious magic shop)
Hatching Magic and The Dragon of Never-Was (Ann Downer, YA Fiction - A modern Boston girl's encounter with a medieval wizard's pet wyvern awakens her own latent powers)
Daughter of Mythos (Melissa Drake, YA Fiction - A foster teen learns she is from a parallel, magical world)
Nightingale (David Farland, YA Fiction - A foster teen unknowingly belongs to a secret, superior human subspecies)
The Stoneheart trilogy (Charlie Fletcher, YA Fiction - When he breaks a stone dragon in a fit of anger, a modern London boy finds himself plunged into the middle of the invisible war between the city's gargoyles and statues)
Teller (Chris Howard, YA Fiction - A teen boy learns he can manipulate reality with stories and paintings)
The Divide (Elizabeth Kay, YA Fiction - A sickly boy accidentally falls into a world where magic is real and humans are myths)
The Sorcerer's Companion: A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter (Allan Zola Kronzek & Elizabeth Kronzek, Nonfiction - A guide to the real-world inspirations for Rowling's hit series)
The Fire Rose (Mercedes Lackey, Fiction - A scholarly woman, employed by a deformed California railway baron, discovers the secret of elmental mages hiding in plain sight in turn-of-the-century America)
The Elemental Masters series (Mercedes Lackey, Fiction - The civilized world of the late 1800's hides many powerful elemental mages and their rivalries)
The Earthsea Cycle (Ursula K. LeGuin, YA Fiction - A boy becomes a wizard in a land of sea and island)
The Unwanteds (Lisa McMann, YA fiction - A brutal dictatorship culls creative teens, who find refuge in a hidden magical sanctuary)
The Seventh Tower series (Garth Nix, YA Fiction - In a world of light magic and shadow servants, a boy seeks a cure for his ailing mother, finding a terrible truth and dark enemies after his family)
The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica (James A. Owen, YA Fiction - Three soon-to-be-famed authors find themselves in the magical Archipelago of Dreams, inspiration of myth and story since time began)
Witch & Wizard (James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet, YA Fiction - Two teens in a modern dictatorship are imprisoned for powers they don't know they have)
The Diadem series (John Peel, YA Fiction - Abducted from their homeworlds by a riddle-speaking messenger, three children learn of their magical talents and powerful destiny)
The Circle of Magic quartet (Tamora Pierce, YA Fiction - Four children with elusive gifts must learn to trust their magic, and each other)
Mystics #1: The Seventh Sense (Kim Richardson, YA Fiction - An orphan girl can see invisible monsters, some of whom seem to be hunting her down)
The Red Pyramid (Rick Riordan, YA Fiction - When their father unleashes imprisoned Egyptian gods, two kids may be all that stands between the modern world and an age of chaos)
The Percy Jackson & the Olympians series (Rick Riordan, YA Fiction - A boy learns that Greek gods and monsters still exist in the modern world)
Guardians Inc.: The Cypher (Julian Rosado-Machain, YA Fiction - Able to understand any written language, a boy is recruited by a secret organization to help save the world)
A School for Sorcery (E. Rose Sabin, YA Fiction - A girl gets a rare chance to develop her talents at a prestigious boarding school for mages)
The Septimus Heap series (Angie Sage, YA Fiction - A corrupted ruler seeks to destroy the once-powerful wizards of his realm)
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Brandon Sanderson, YA Fiction - A boy discovers that the true nature of the world has been kept hidden by an insidious cult of evil librarians)
The Alchemyst (Michael Scott, YA Fiction - Modern American twins are pulled into a magical struggle involving godlike Elders, monsters, and immortal mages)
The Wizardology books (Dugald A. Steer, YA Fiction - Exploring the world of wizards)
A College of Magics (Caroline Stevermer, YA Fiction - The heiress to a small duchy is sent to a magical college, where her family's rival awaits)
The Bartimaeus series (Jonathan Stroud, YA Fiction - A humiliated apprentice summons a djinni for vengeance, but learns he's in for more than he bargained for)
The Wretched of Muirwood (Jeff Wheeler, YA Fiction - An orphan girl, living at a magical abbey, becomes entangled in world-changing events)
Kasey And His Dragon (E. H. White, YA Fiction - A modern boy finds a dragon's egg, sweeping him off to his destiny in another world)
The 100 Cupboards trilogy (N. D. Wilson, YA Fiction - When he finds magical little doors leading to other worlds, a boy unlocks a secret about his uncle - and himself)
Wizard's Hall (Jane Yolen, YA Fiction - A boy of dubious talent enrolls in a school of magic)
The Young Merlin trilogy (Jane Yolen, YA Fiction - A wild-born boy learns of his magic and his destiny)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Widescreen Edition) (2004 movie DVD)

Return to Top of Page - Return to Book Review List


Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
(The Harry Potter series, Book 4)
J.K. Rowling
Scholastic
Fiction, YA Fantasy
*****

DESCRIPTION: It's going to be Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts, and the famous young wizard is as eager as ever to escape the oppresive Dursleys. He is thrilled when they let him leave early to stay with the Weasleys, so he can see the crowning game of the wizarding world: the Quidditch World Cup. His lightning-shaped scar, lone lasting legacy of the attack of Lord Voldemort that killed his parents but inexplicably rebounded off his one-year-old self, has been bothering him lately, though, and he's been having some terrible dreams...
Back at school, thoughts of old enemies are quickly put aside in the excitement of a special event at Hogwarts: the Tri-Wizard Championships, where champion wizards from three magic schools compete in tests of skill and courage. The teams from the competing wizarding academies are staying at Hogwarts, bringing troubles of their own to an already ill- omened year... a year that may see an old enemy restored to power, and the fate of Harry Potter decided by a dark web of enemies.

REVIEW: I think this is Rowling's best work yet. It's also her longest book yet - over 700 pages - but it reads fast. Great action, truly memorable characters, and an unpredictable, entertaining plot - plus, a mercifully quick departure of the Dursleys. Harry is growing up, as are his friends, and the story arc continues to grow by leaps and bounds. As a word of caution, if younger fans (or their parents) thought the previous books were too dark and violent, it may be best to hold off on Book 4 until they're ready to handle more complex stories. This is undoubtedly the deepest and darkest the series has ever been so far, and it looks like the next books will be following its example.

You might also enjoy:
Breaking Deluce (Chad Campbell, YA Fiction - A teen girl finds herself hunted for powers she doesn't know she possesses)
The Artemis Fowl series (Eoin Colfer, YA Fiction - A boy criminal mastermind sets his sights on the treasures of the underground Fairy nation)
The Magic Shop books (Bruce Coville, YA Fiction - Children in need of help find their way to a mysterious magic shop)
Hatching Magic and The Dragon of Never-Was (Ann Downer, YA Fiction - A modern Boston girl's encounter with a medieval wizard's pet wyvern awakens her own latent powers)
Daughter of Mythos (Melissa Drake, YA Fiction - A foster teen learns she is from a parallel, magical world)
Nightingale (David Farland, YA Fiction - A foster teen unknowingly belongs to a secret, superior human subspecies)
The Stoneheart trilogy (Charlie Fletcher, YA Fiction - When he breaks a stone dragon in a fit of anger, a modern London boy finds himself plunged into the middle of the invisible war between the city's gargoyles and statues)
Teller (Chris Howard, YA Fiction - A teen boy learns he can manipulate reality with stories and paintings)
The Divide (Elizabeth Kay, YA Fiction - A sickly boy accidentally falls into a world where magic is real and humans are myths)
The Sorcerer's Companion: A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter (Allan Zola Kronzek & Elizabeth Kronzek, Nonfiction - A guide to the real-world inspirations for Rowling's hit series)
The Fire Rose (Mercedes Lackey, Fiction - A scholarly woman, employed by a deformed California railway baron, discovers the secret of elmental mages hiding in plain sight in turn-of-the-century America)
The Elemental Masters series (Mercedes Lackey, Fiction - The civilized world of the late 1800's hides many powerful elemental mages and their rivalries)
The Earthsea Cycle (Ursula K. LeGuin, YA Fiction - A boy becomes a wizard in a land of sea and island)
The Unwanteds (Lisa McMann, YA fiction - A brutal dictatorship culls creative teens, who find refuge in a hidden magical sanctuary)
The Seventh Tower series (Garth Nix, YA Fiction - In a world of light magic and shadow servants, a boy seeks a cure for his ailing mother, finding a terrible truth and dark enemies after his family)
The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica (James A. Owen, YA Fiction - Three soon-to-be-famed authors find themselves in the magical Archipelago of Dreams, inspiration of myth and story since time began)
Witch & Wizard (James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet, YA Fiction - Two teens in a modern dictatorship are imprisoned for powers they don't know they have)
The Diadem series (John Peel, YA Fiction - Abducted from their homeworlds by a riddle-speaking messenger, three children learn of their magical talents and powerful destiny)
The Circle of Magic quartet (Tamora Pierce, YA Fiction - Four children with elusive gifts must learn to trust their magic, and each other)
Mystics #1: The Seventh Sense (Kim Richardson, YA Fiction - An orphan girl can see invisible monsters, some of whom seem to be hunting her down)
The Red Pyramid (Rick Riordan, YA Fiction - When their father unleashes imprisoned Egyptian gods, two kids may be all that stands between the modern world and an age of chaos)
The Percy Jackson & the Olympians series (Rick Riordan, YA Fiction - A boy learns that Greek gods and monsters still exist in the modern world)
Guardians Inc.: The Cypher (Julian Rosado-Machain, YA Fiction - Able to understand any written language, a boy is recruited by a secret organization to help save the world)
A School for Sorcery (E. Rose Sabin, YA Fiction - A girl gets a rare chance to develop her talents at a prestigious boarding school for mages)
The Septimus Heap series (Angie Sage, YA Fiction - A corrupted ruler seeks to destroy the once-powerful wizards of his realm)
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Brandon Sanderson, YA Fiction - A boy discovers that the true nature of the world has been kept hidden by an insidious cult of evil librarians)
The Alchemyst (Michael Scott, YA Fiction - Modern American twins are pulled into a magical struggle involving godlike Elders, monsters, and immortal mages)
The Wizardology books (Dugald A. Steer, YA Fiction - Exploring the world of wizards)
A College of Magics (Caroline Stevermer, YA Fiction - The heiress to a small duchy is sent to a magical college, where her family's rival awaits)
The Bartimaeus series (Jonathan Stroud, YA Fiction - A humiliated apprentice summons a djinni for vengeance, but learns he's in for more than he bargained for)
The Wretched of Muirwood (Jeff Wheeler, YA Fiction - An orphan girl, living at a magical abbey, becomes entangled in world-changing events)
Kasey And His Dragon (E. H. White, YA Fiction - A modern boy finds a dragon's egg, sweeping him off to his destiny in another world)
The 100 Cupboards trilogy (N. D. Wilson, YA Fiction - When he finds magical little doors leading to other worlds, a boy unlocks a secret about his uncle - and himself)
Wizard's Hall (Jane Yolen, YA Fiction - A boy of dubious talent enrolls in a school of magic)
The Young Merlin trilogy (Jane Yolen, YA Fiction - A wild-born boy learns of his magic and his destiny)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Widescreen Edition) (Harry Potter 4) (2004 movie DVD - an unfortunate hatchet-job of the book, and the last Harry Potter movie I'll be linking to)

Return to Top of Page - Return to Book Review List


Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
(The Harry Potter series, Book 5)
J.K. Rowling
Scholastic
Fiction, YA Fantasy
*****

DESCRIPTION: The summer before Harry's fifth year at Hogwarts is the worst he has ever endured. Last year, he saw Lord Voldemort returned to power, and, stuck with his Muggle relatives the Dursleys, he's completely cut off from the magical world. Who knows what havoc the Dark Lord is wreaking, and who's to say that Voldemort isn't plotting even now to strike at the hated Muggles openly? His stay on Privet Drive is cut short when a pair of dementors attacks him and his Muggle cousin Dudley. For everyone's safety, Harry is transported into the protective custody of fellow wizards, but it is anything but a pleasant change. He discovers that the Ministry of Magic is vehemently denying reports of Voldemort's return and has spent all summer conducting a massive smear campaign to discredit anyone who believes it, Harry and Professor Dumbledore being at the top of their hit list. Though in the company of the Order of the Phoenix, a group founded to fight Voldemort and his Death Eater followers, Harry feels more helpless than ever... especially since it seems that the ties between him and his archenemy go deeper than anyone has told him, into the very depths of his own mind.

REVIEW: Cruddy description, I know, but it's hard to give spoiler-free descriptions of the fifth book in a series of seven. Anyway, I loved this latest outing of Harry Potter and his friends. The pace picks up very early on, and Harry's adventures are both darker and more intricate than ever before. Harry and his friends are also growing up, and Rowling does an excellent job showing this in their moods and actions. As a warning, people who were disturbed by the conclusion of the fourth book should probably stop reading the series altogether.

You might also enjoy:
Breaking Deluce (Chad Campbell, YA Fiction - A teen girl finds herself hunted for powers she doesn't know she possesses)
The Artemis Fowl series (Eoin Colfer, YA Fiction - A boy criminal mastermind sets his sights on the treasures of the underground Fairy nation)
The Magic Shop books (Bruce Coville, YA Fiction - Children in need of help find their way to a mysterious magic shop)
Hatching Magic and The Dragon of Never-Was (Ann Downer, YA Fiction - A modern Boston girl's encounter with a medieval wizard's pet wyvern awakens her own latent powers)
Daughter of Mythos (Melissa Drake, YA Fiction - A foster teen learns she is from a parallel, magical world)
Nightingale (David Farland, YA Fiction - A foster teen unknowingly belongs to a secret, superior human subspecies)
The Stoneheart trilogy (Charlie Fletcher, YA Fiction - When he breaks a stone dragon in a fit of anger, a modern London boy finds himself plunged into the middle of the invisible war between the city's gargoyles and statues)
Teller (Chris Howard, YA Fiction - A teen boy learns he can manipulate reality with stories and paintings)
The Divide (Elizabeth Kay, YA Fiction - A sickly boy accidentally falls into a world where magic is real and humans are myths)
The Sorcerer's Companion: A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter (Allan Zola Kronzek & Elizabeth Kronzek, Nonfiction - A guide to the real-world inspirations for Rowling's hit series)
The Fire Rose (Mercedes Lackey, Fiction - A scholarly woman, employed by a deformed California railway baron, discovers the secret of elmental mages hiding in plain sight in turn-of-the-century America)
The Elemental Masters series (Mercedes Lackey, Fiction - The civilized world of the late 1800's hides many powerful elemental mages and their rivalries)
The Earthsea Cycle (Ursula K. LeGuin, YA Fiction - A boy becomes a wizard in a land of sea and island)
The Unwanteds (Lisa McMann, YA fiction - A brutal dictatorship culls creative teens, who find refuge in a hidden magical sanctuary)
The Seventh Tower series (Garth Nix, YA Fiction - In a world of light magic and shadow servants, a boy seeks a cure for his ailing mother, finding a terrible truth and dark enemies after his family)
The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica (James A. Owen, YA Fiction - Three soon-to-be-famed authors find themselves in the magical Archipelago of Dreams, inspiration of myth and story since time began)
Witch & Wizard (James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet, YA Fiction - Two teens in a modern dictatorship are imprisoned for powers they don't know they have)
The Diadem series (John Peel, YA Fiction - Abducted from their homeworlds by a riddle-speaking messenger, three children learn of their magical talents and powerful destiny)
The Circle of Magic quartet (Tamora Pierce, YA Fiction - Four children with elusive gifts must learn to trust their magic, and each other)
Mystics #1: The Seventh Sense (Kim Richardson, YA Fiction - An orphan girl can see invisible monsters, some of whom seem to be hunting her down)
The Red Pyramid (Rick Riordan, YA Fiction - When their father unleashes imprisoned Egyptian gods, two kids may be all that stands between the modern world and an age of chaos)
The Percy Jackson & the Olympians series (Rick Riordan, YA Fiction - A boy learns that Greek gods and monsters still exist in the modern world)
Guardians Inc.: The Cypher (Julian Rosado-Machain, YA Fiction - Able to understand any written language, a boy is recruited by a secret organization to help save the world)
A School for Sorcery (E. Rose Sabin, YA Fiction - A girl gets a rare chance to develop her talents at a prestigious boarding school for mages)
The Septimus Heap series (Angie Sage, YA Fiction - A corrupted ruler seeks to destroy the once-powerful wizards of his realm)
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Brandon Sanderson, YA Fiction - A boy discovers that the true nature of the world has been kept hidden by an insidious cult of evil librarians)
The Alchemyst (Michael Scott, YA Fiction - Modern American twins are pulled into a magical struggle involving godlike Elders, monsters, and immortal mages)
The Wizardology books (Dugald A. Steer, YA Fiction - Exploring the world of wizards)
A College of Magics (Caroline Stevermer, YA Fiction - The heiress to a small duchy is sent to a magical college, where her family's rival awaits)
The Bartimaeus series (Jonathan Stroud, YA Fiction - A humiliated apprentice summons a djinni for vengeance, but learns he's in for more than he bargained for)
The Wretched of Muirwood (Jeff Wheeler, YA Fiction - An orphan girl, living at a magical abbey, becomes entangled in world-changing events)
Kasey And His Dragon (E. H. White, YA Fiction - A modern boy finds a dragon's egg, sweeping him off to his destiny in another world)
The 100 Cupboards trilogy (N. D. Wilson, YA Fiction - When he finds magical little doors leading to other worlds, a boy unlocks a secret about his uncle - and himself)
Wizard's Hall (Jane Yolen, YA Fiction - A boy of dubious talent enrolls in a school of magic)
The Young Merlin trilogy (Jane Yolen, YA Fiction - A wild-born boy learns of his magic and his destiny)

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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
(The Harry Potter series, Book 6)
J.K. Rowling
Scholastic
Fiction, YA Fantasy
*****

DESCRIPTION: With the return of Voldemort finally acknowledged as a very real if unpleasant fact, the Death Eaters and the Ministry of Magic are essentially in a state of open war. Even the Muggle world is feeling the effects as dark catastrophes shake the nation and the hope-sucking mists of ever-increasing numbers of dementors drain the life from the land. The Order of the Phoenix is fighting bravely, but it seems to be a losing battle, and even the powerful wizard Dumbledore seems overwhelmed. Despite the dangers, Harry, now sixteen, still can't wait to get back to Hogwarts, which is not only perhaps the safest place to be, but has always been more of a home to the young wizard than his Muggle aunt and uncle's house on Privet Drive. This year may see the end of that sanctuary, as Headmaster Dumbledore seems to be having a harder time than he lets on fighting the Death Eaters and Draco Malfoy sets out on a special secret quest that Harry and his friends, for all their efforts, can't unravel but which surely can't be good; Malfoy's father, after all, is in Azkaban, and both of his parents are loyal Death Eaters. In addition to his increased schoolwork as Harry labors to become an Auror, or hunter of dark wizards, Dumbledore sets a special mission for Harry, delving into memories and scraping together speculations about their enemy. Harry must understand the boy who became Lord Voldemort in order to unearth the secret to his undying power.

REVIEW: This book seemed to have a more intense and streamlined main plot which nevertheless conveys the main characters' often-fumbling passage into adolescence and its attendant complications. I believe this is the first series I have ever read which started out with an intentionally younger target audience than the later books, as the main characters grow at a realistic rate and don't remain in that peculiar state of perpetual childhood that some young adult series impose on their heroes. With the fighting no longer confined to the shadows - the Daily Prophet has daily updates of dead and injured wizards and witches, dutifully read by Hermione as they search for names they recognize - the need to have other things happening to fill time at Hogwarts vanishes. I didn't miss the prolonged Quidditch matches, personally, but I've never been a big sports fan. Not that there was no depth or character growth, mind you. Harry and his friends all suffer growing pains as their relationships are continually redefined by hardships and hormones (which are sometimes one and the same), and some needed levity is provided by Apparition lessons (the wizard teen's equivalent of driving lessons) and a few other incidentals, but there is still a persistent pall of war and trouble in the background. Rowling manages to balance answering old questions with raising new ones so that the reader doesn’t feel jerked around or led on wild goose chases. In this book, much is answered and the method by which Voldemort may be defeated is made more clear, but questions still remain on a number of matters and Harry’s path to his destiny still looks to have some unexpected turns ahead. As Harry learns to cope with his own growth and the fate that is set before him, not to mention his ever-shifting relationships with his best friends Ron and Hermione, peripheral characters such as Ron’s quick-witted sister Ginny come increasingly into the action, establishing a network of capable friends which Harry will no doubt have to rely on in the seventh and final book. Again, if the earlier books were too dark for you, stop reading the series now. More people are hurt and the cast is lighter by the end of the book, setting up what should be a very wild finale.

You might also enjoy:
Breaking Deluce (Chad Campbell, YA Fiction - A teen girl finds herself hunted for powers she doesn't know she possesses)
The Artemis Fowl series (Eoin Colfer, YA Fiction - A boy criminal mastermind sets his sights on the treasures of the underground Fairy nation)
The Magic Shop books (Bruce Coville, YA Fiction - Children in need of help find their way to a mysterious magic shop)
Hatching Magic and The Dragon of Never-Was (Ann Downer, YA Fiction - A modern Boston girl's encounter with a medieval wizard's pet wyvern awakens her own latent powers)
Daughter of Mythos (Melissa Drake, YA Fiction - A foster teen learns she is from a parallel, magical world)
Nightingale (David Farland, YA Fiction - A foster teen unknowingly belongs to a secret, superior human subspecies)
The Stoneheart trilogy (Charlie Fletcher, YA Fiction - When he breaks a stone dragon in a fit of anger, a modern London boy finds himself plunged into the middle of the invisible war between the city's gargoyles and statues)
Teller (Chris Howard, YA Fiction - A teen boy learns he can manipulate reality with stories and paintings)
The Divide (Elizabeth Kay, YA Fiction - A sickly boy accidentally falls into a world where magic is real and humans are myths)
The Sorcerer's Companion: A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter (Allan Zola Kronzek & Elizabeth Kronzek, Nonfiction - A guide to the real-world inspirations for Rowling's hit series)
The Fire Rose (Mercedes Lackey, Fiction - A scholarly woman, employed by a deformed California railway baron, discovers the secret of elmental mages hiding in plain sight in turn-of-the-century America)
The Elemental Masters series (Mercedes Lackey, Fiction - The civilized world of the late 1800's hides many powerful elemental mages and their rivalries)
The Earthsea Cycle (Ursula K. LeGuin, YA Fiction - A boy becomes a wizard in a land of sea and island)
The Unwanteds (Lisa McMann, YA fiction - A brutal dictatorship culls creative teens, who find refuge in a hidden magical sanctuary)
The Seventh Tower series (Garth Nix, YA Fiction - In a world of light magic and shadow servants, a boy seeks a cure for his ailing mother, finding a terrible truth and dark enemies after his family)
The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica (James A. Owen, YA Fiction - Three soon-to-be-famed authors find themselves in the magical Archipelago of Dreams, inspiration of myth and story since time began)
Witch & Wizard (James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet, YA Fiction - Two teens in a modern dictatorship are imprisoned for powers they don't know they have)
The Diadem series (John Peel, YA Fiction - Abducted from their homeworlds by a riddle-speaking messenger, three children learn of their magical talents and powerful destiny)
The Circle of Magic quartet (Tamora Pierce, YA Fiction - Four children with elusive gifts must learn to trust their magic, and each other)
Mystics #1: The Seventh Sense (Kim Richardson, YA Fiction - An orphan girl can see invisible monsters, some of whom seem to be hunting her down)
The Red Pyramid (Rick Riordan, YA Fiction - When their father unleashes imprisoned Egyptian gods, two kids may be all that stands between the modern world and an age of chaos)
The Percy Jackson & the Olympians series (Rick Riordan, YA Fiction - A boy learns that Greek gods and monsters still exist in the modern world)
Guardians Inc.: The Cypher (Julian Rosado-Machain, YA Fiction - Able to understand any written language, a boy is recruited by a secret organization to help save the world)
A School for Sorcery (E. Rose Sabin, YA Fiction - A girl gets a rare chance to develop her talents at a prestigious boarding school for mages)
The Septimus Heap series (Angie Sage, YA Fiction - A corrupted ruler seeks to destroy the once-powerful wizards of his realm)
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Brandon Sanderson, YA Fiction - A boy discovers that the true nature of the world has been kept hidden by an insidious cult of evil librarians)
The Alchemyst (Michael Scott, YA Fiction - Modern American twins are pulled into a magical struggle involving godlike Elders, monsters, and immortal mages)
The Wizardology books (Dugald A. Steer, YA Fiction - Exploring the world of wizards)
A College of Magics (Caroline Stevermer, YA Fiction - The heiress to a small duchy is sent to a magical college, where her family's rival awaits)
The Bartimaeus series (Jonathan Stroud, YA Fiction - A humiliated apprentice summons a djinni for vengeance, but learns he's in for more than he bargained for)
The Wretched of Muirwood (Jeff Wheeler, YA Fiction - An orphan girl, living at a magical abbey, becomes entangled in world-changing events)
Kasey And His Dragon (E. H. White, YA Fiction - A modern boy finds a dragon's egg, sweeping him off to his destiny in another world)
The 100 Cupboards trilogy (N. D. Wilson, YA Fiction - When he finds magical little doors leading to other worlds, a boy unlocks a secret about his uncle - and himself)
Wizard's Hall (Jane Yolen, YA Fiction - A boy of dubious talent enrolls in a school of magic)
The Young Merlin trilogy (Jane Yolen, YA Fiction - A wild-born boy learns of his magic and his destiny)

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
(The Harry Potter series, Book 7)
J.K. Rowling
Scholastic
Fiction, YA Fantasy
*****

DESCRIPTION: Seven years ago, a boy with a lightning-bolt scar learned he was a wizard, that his parents had died not in an auto accident but at the hands of the evil Lord Voldemort. Seven years ago, Harry Potter - long renowned in the Wizarding community as the Boy Who Lived, who inexplicably survived a Killing Curse and somehow broke the Dark Lord's power in the process - found himself enrolled in the venerable Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry which would become both a sanctuary and a danger, yet ultimately more of a home than he had ever known before. Seven years ago, Harry learned that he had been hunted since he was born... and that the hunt wasn't over. But seven years ago, Harry was just a boy. Now on the verge of seventeen, he stands on the Wizarding world's dividing line between boy and man... and now, the time has come to stop running, to finally step up to the enormous task which fate and prophecy have set before him. Now is the time to face Lord Voldemort and his Death Eater followers and end their evil... once and for all.
Harry's two worlds - magical and Muggle - both suffer after the return of Lord Voldemort to power. No longer playing shadow games, the Death Eaters have returned full-force, slaughtering innocents, infiltrating the Ministry of Magic, and creating a state of paranoia even greater than their glory days before the Dark Lord's fall. This year, Harry will not return to Hogwarts, which is now essentially in the hands of his enemies. With Ron and Hermione, he sets out to fulfill his final orders from Dumbledore: locate and destroy the Horcruxes, items into which Lord Voldemort secreted parts of his soul, for so long as one Horcrux remains Voldemort cannot die. But even Dumbledore did not know where or what all the Horcruxes were, and even if they find them, the three young wizards have no idea how to destroy them. Every day more die, and every day their enemies grow stronger... and every day, the final battle for the future of wizards and Muggles alike comes closer and closer.

REVIEW: Wow! Rowling starts the story at a breakneck pace and hardly lets up. Without classes and Quidditch and House rivalries to deal with, Harry and his friends throw themselves into their most intense - and final - adventure. The cast starts thinning almost from the start, each loss cutting closer and closer to the core troupe we have followed since Harry's first year. (Who lives? Who dies? How many? And what or where are the Deathly Hallows? Sorry, I don't deal in spoilers... but I was surprised by Rowling's choices of who lived and died.) Hard truths are learned as the past is revisited, throwing much of the preceding storyline into a different, sometimes harsher light. Both friends and enemies turn out to be more than Harry initially anticipated, and in examining their lives, their mistakes and successes, a maturing Harry learns a vital and timely lesson for himself and his own quest to destroy Lord Voldemort. The weakest point of the book is the Epilogue, which was primarily written for the final lines of dialog. (Rowling evidently wrote the last chapter many years ago; while the overall thrust probably didn't change much, I'm curious about how much she did have to change, as she has admitted that the story took itself in directions she never anticipated.) The most anticipated book of 2007 turned out to be an excellent send-off for a most memorable series, a series that revitalized the fantasy genre, reawakened millions of children and adults to the wonders of reading, and will live on as one of the great fantasy stories of our time.
Thank you, J.K. Rowling, for giving us Harry Potter's world... or perhaps I should be thanking Harry Potter, for giving J.K. Rowling his world. He could not have placed it in more capable hands.

You might also enjoy:
Breaking Deluce (Chad Campbell, YA Fiction - A teen girl finds herself hunted for powers she doesn't know she possesses)
The Artemis Fowl series (Eoin Colfer, YA Fiction - A boy criminal mastermind sets his sights on the treasures of the underground Fairy nation)
The Magic Shop books (Bruce Coville, YA Fiction - Children in need of help find their way to a mysterious magic shop)
Hatching Magic and The Dragon of Never-Was (Ann Downer, YA Fiction - A modern Boston girl's encounter with a medieval wizard's pet wyvern awakens her own latent powers)
Daughter of Mythos (Melissa Drake, YA Fiction - A foster teen learns she is from a parallel, magical world)
Nightingale (David Farland, YA Fiction - A foster teen unknowingly belongs to a secret, superior human subspecies)
The Stoneheart trilogy (Charlie Fletcher, YA Fiction - When he breaks a stone dragon in a fit of anger, a modern London boy finds himself plunged into the middle of the invisible war between the city's gargoyles and statues)
Teller (Chris Howard, YA Fiction - A teen boy learns he can manipulate reality with stories and paintings)
The Divide (Elizabeth Kay, YA Fiction - A sickly boy accidentally falls into a world where magic is real and humans are myths)
The Sorcerer's Companion: A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter (Allan Zola Kronzek & Elizabeth Kronzek, Nonfiction - A guide to the real-world inspirations for Rowling's hit series)
The Fire Rose (Mercedes Lackey, Fiction - A scholarly woman, employed by a deformed California railway baron, discovers the secret of elmental mages hiding in plain sight in turn-of-the-century America)
The Elemental Masters series (Mercedes Lackey, Fiction - The civilized world of the late 1800's hides many powerful elemental mages and their rivalries)
The Earthsea Cycle (Ursula K. LeGuin, YA Fiction - A boy becomes a wizard in a land of sea and island)
The Unwanteds (Lisa McMann, YA fiction - A brutal dictatorship culls creative teens, who find refuge in a hidden magical sanctuary)
The Seventh Tower series (Garth Nix, YA Fiction - In a world of light magic and shadow servants, a boy seeks a cure for his ailing mother, finding a terrible truth and dark enemies after his family)
The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica (James A. Owen, YA Fiction - Three soon-to-be-famed authors find themselves in the magical Archipelago of Dreams, inspiration of myth and story since time began)
Witch & Wizard (James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet, YA Fiction - Two teens in a modern dictatorship are imprisoned for powers they don't know they have)
The Diadem series (John Peel, YA Fiction - Abducted from their homeworlds by a riddle-speaking messenger, three children learn of their magical talents and powerful destiny)
The Circle of Magic quartet (Tamora Pierce, YA Fiction - Four children with elusive gifts must learn to trust their magic, and each other)
Mystics #1: The Seventh Sense (Kim Richardson, YA Fiction - An orphan girl can see invisible monsters, some of whom seem to be hunting her down)
The Red Pyramid (Rick Riordan, YA Fiction - When their father unleashes imprisoned Egyptian gods, two kids may be all that stands between the modern world and an age of chaos)
The Percy Jackson & the Olympians series (Rick Riordan, YA Fiction - A boy learns that Greek gods and monsters still exist in the modern world)
Guardians Inc.: The Cypher (Julian Rosado-Machain, YA Fiction - Able to understand any written language, a boy is recruited by a secret organization to help save the world)
A School for Sorcery (E. Rose Sabin, YA Fiction - A girl gets a rare chance to develop her talents at a prestigious boarding school for mages)
The Septimus Heap series (Angie Sage, YA Fiction - A corrupted ruler seeks to destroy the once-powerful wizards of his realm)
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Brandon Sanderson, YA Fiction - A boy discovers that the true nature of the world has been kept hidden by an insidious cult of evil librarians)
The Alchemyst (Michael Scott, YA Fiction - Modern American twins are pulled into a magical struggle involving godlike Elders, monsters, and immortal mages)
The Wizardology books (Dugald A. Steer, YA Fiction - Exploring the world of wizards)
A College of Magics (Caroline Stevermer, YA Fiction - The heiress to a small duchy is sent to a magical college, where her family's rival awaits)
The Bartimaeus series (Jonathan Stroud, YA Fiction - A humiliated apprentice summons a djinni for vengeance, but learns he's in for more than he bargained for)
The Wretched of Muirwood (Jeff Wheeler, YA Fiction - An orphan girl, living at a magical abbey, becomes entangled in world-changing events)
Kasey And His Dragon (E. H. White, YA Fiction - A modern boy finds a dragon's egg, sweeping him off to his destiny in another world)
The 100 Cupboards trilogy (N. D. Wilson, YA Fiction - When he finds magical little doors leading to other worlds, a boy unlocks a secret about his uncle - and himself)
Wizard's Hall (Jane Yolen, YA Fiction - A boy of dubious talent enrolls in a school of magic)
The Young Merlin trilogy (Jane Yolen, YA Fiction - A wild-born boy learns of his magic and his destiny)

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
(Companion to the Harry Potter series)
J.K. Rowling (and Newt Scamander)
Scholastic (in association with Obscurus Books)
Fiction, YA Fantasy
*****

DESCRIPTION: The world is full of magical creatures, despite the encroachment of Muggle civilization. Mr. Scamander used a lifetime of exploration and interest to create this famous textbook, a standard at Hogwarts and other fine wizarding schools. All proceeds from the sale of this rare Muggle edition - complete with Harry's margin notes and doodles - go to charity.

REVIEW: I'm probably being a bit generous with my top-mark rating, but not by much. This is a fun and interesting book, discussing not only the beasts themselves but what qualifies as a "beast," as opposed to a sentient "being," in the magical world. Some of the creatures are Rowling's own creations, but several I recognize from other books of mythology. It's a thin book, but the small print means there's much more in it than you might think. Harry Potter fans should definitely check this one out.

You might also enjoy:
Fabulous Beasts (Malcom Ashman, Art/Fiction - An artist's bestiary of fantastic beasts)
Mythical Beasts (Alexandra Bonfante-Warren, Nonfiction - Creatures of myth and legend)
The Book of Imaginary Beings (Jorge Luis Borges, Fiction - A bestiary of fantasy animals)
The Encyclopedia of Monsters (Daniel Cohen, Nonfiction - Fantasy beasts, cryptid encounters, and more)
Magickal, Mystical Creatures (D. J. Conway, Nonfiction - Mythical and legendary animals, and their magickal significance)
A Natural History of the Unnatural World ("The Cryptozoological Society of London," YA Fiction - Fantastic animals and cryptids)
Here Be Dragons: A Fantastic Bestiary (Ariane Deleacampagne and Christian Delacampagne, Nonfiction - An examination of fabulous beasts in cultural, religious, and artistic history)
Big Book of Dragons, Monsters, and Other Mythical Creatures (Ernst and Johanna Lehner, Nonfiction - Historical images of fabulous beasts)
The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures (John & Caitlin Matthews, Nonfiction - An overview of gods, demons, mythic animals, and a few cryptids)
The Book of Gryphons (Joe Nigg, Nonfiction - The history and evolution of the classical gryphon)
The Book of Fabulous Beasts (Joseph Nigg, Nonfiction - The classical origins and evolution of popular fantastic beasts)
Dracopedia: The Bestiary (William O'Connor, Art - Drawing a variety of creatures from folklore and mythology)
The Encyclopedia of Things that Never Were (Michael Page and Robert Ingpen, Fiction - Illustrated guide to imaginary animals, places, and more)
Dr. Ernest Drake's Monsterology (Dugald A. Steer, editor, Fiction - The monster notes of the famed 19th century dragonologist/monsterologist Dr. Ernest Drake)

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Quidditch Through the Ages
(Companion to the Harry Potter series)
J.K. Rowling (and Kennilworthy Whisp)
Scholastic (in association with Whizz Hard Books)
Fiction, YA Fantasy
*****

DESCRIPTION: Quidditch is possibly the most famous wizarding sport of all, but it can be a bit confusing to outsiders. Who came up with the Golden Snitch? How is a Bludger different from a Quaffle? Where did this fantastic game come from in the first place? Mr. Whisp answers all these questions and more in one of the most popular books in the Hogwarts library. Proceeds from this special Muggle edition go to charity.

REVIEW: I must admit that I tend to skim some of Rowling's quidditch match sequences in her books, not being big on sports in general (Muggle or wizard.) That said, even I found this an amusing look at the game, with more to it than one might think of such a thin edition. Like Fantastic Beasts, it's a nice addition to any Potter fan's library, and with all proceeds going to Comic Relief UK (not related to the American organization, apparently), it's not like the money's wasted.

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The Tales of Beedle the Bard
(Companion to the Harry Potter series)
J.K. Rowling
Scholastic
Fiction, YA Fantasy
*****

DESCRIPTION: Compiled by a 15th century wizard, these five classic tales are a staple of every Wizarding childhood. Available for the first time to the Muggle population, these translations (by Hermione Granger) are accompanied by notes left by the famed Albus Dumbledore:
The Wizard and the Hopping Pot - A selfish wizard's inheritance develops a mind of its own.
The Fountain of Fair Fortune - Once a year, a magical fountain grants one person's most fervent wish.
The Warlock's Hairy Heart - Determined never to succumb to the sickness of love, a warlock takes drastic steps.
Babbity Rabbity and Her Cackling Stump - A charlatan tries to use a witch to trick a foolish king.
The Tale of the Three Brothers - Three brothers thwart Death's trap, but cannot evade him forever.
Proceeds from the sale of this book go to the Children's High Level Group, a charity dedicated to alleviating the deplorable conditions of children living in many European residential institutions.

REVIEW: First mentioned in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, in which the final tale provides a critical clue, Rowling crafts five stories with the feel of classic tales, down to the somewhat grim undertones (very grim, in the case of The Warlock's Hairy Heart) and ongoing controversies surrounding their original forms. Dumbledore's comments root them in the Harry Potter Wizarding world mythology, and provide a bit of commentary on magical and Muggle society, not to mention those who would oversanitize children's stories.

You might also enjoy:
Strange Happenings (Avi, YA Fiction - Five stories of lives transformed)
A Treasury of Witches and Wizards (David Bennet, editor, YA Fiction - Stories of witches and wizards)
Bruce Coville's anthologies (Bruce Coville, editor, YA Fiction - Short stories on a variety of subjects)
Odds are Good (Bruce Coville, YA Fiction - A collection of Coville's short stories, from silly to scary)
The Anything Box (Zenna Henderson, Fiction - A collection of peculiar short stories)
Fantasy Stories (Diana Wynne Jones, editor, YA Fiction - Fantasy stories and story exerpts)
Magical Roads (Kia Zi Shiru, YA Fiction - Four magic-touched tales)
The King of Cats and Other Feline Fairy Tales (John Richard Stephens, Nonfiction - A collection of folktales about cats from around the world)
Book of Enchantments (Patricia Wrede, YA Fiction - Short story collection)
Here, There be Dragons (Jane Yolen, YA Fiction - Stories of dragons)

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