The second book of the Harry Potter series by J. K Rowling sees Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione enter their second year at Hogwarts. (To know about the first year, click here). During his summer holidays with the Dursleys, Harry receives a visit from Dobby, a house-elf who warns Harry to not go back to school because his life is in danger. However, Dobby cannot provide any more details. Harry does not heed Dobby’s advice and goes to school any way, arriving in rather a dramatic fashion with Ron. The youngest Weasley, Ginny also starts Hogwarts and is in her first year and visibly has a crush on Harry. As the term continues, weird things begin to happy. Yes, weird even for witches and wizards. For one, Harry hears a voice no one else can hear talking about wanting to kill. Apparently, hearing voices is considered just as bad in the wizarding world as it is for us Muggles. More importantly, something is harming students, animals and ghosts. More so, students who are not of pure-blood (i.e. don’t have a rich heritage of witches and wizards in their families). A monster that resides in the Chamber of Secrets has been let loose again. Only problem is, no one knows where the chamber is or what the monster is.
This is where the series starts to develop deeper themes. While the first book dwelled on bravery and friendship, this one tends to continue in the same drift but has something more to it. For instance, the issue about the pure-bloods versus Mudbloods (i.e. someone with Muggle parents). Rowling looks at some wizarding families like the Malfoys who think all witches and wizards should be of pure-blood and this is akin to white supremacy. The fanatic pure-bloods do not like witches and wizards marrying outside i.e. marrying Muggles and therefore producing half-bloods. In a way, it’s a wizarding form of the caste system or racism. Then there is the theme of loyalty. Pure, unflinching loyalty which Harry has for Dumbledore. It is this loyalty that saves his life. Finally, there are the house-elves. House-elves are treated badly by some witches and wizards in what I thought was another form of the caste system. And through Harry’s character, Rowling manages to portray breaking through those barriers and of class or caste as Harry treats Dobby with respect and kindness. These are themes that continue through the series.
All in all, an engaging read. Some bits scare you and honestly leave you intrigued. The mystery and suspense element when read the first time is also quite compelling and you don’t want to put the book down. As for the humour, it’s top-notch. The crazy new teacher Lockhart, the mishaps with Ron’s broken wand, the encounters between Harry and Malfoy, and so much more.
I rate it a 5.
Until next time,