Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy – until he is rescued by an owl, taken to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, learns to play Quidditch and does battle in a deadly duel. The Reason: HARRY POTTER IS A WIZARD!
Having decided to do a reread of Harry Potter over the next few months a couple of weeks ago, it seems fitting that I finally gotten around to posting my review of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone the day after Harry’s birthday and on JK Rowling’s birthday.
Earlier this year I reread The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a book I had loved as a child. However now as an adult, while I still enjoyed it and could see the appeal, I was no longer able to buy into the magic to the same extent. I was conscious I was reading a children’s book. I’ll admit that a small part of me was worried it would be the same with Harry Potter. I’m glad to say my fears were unfounded.
From the first moment I felt my self swept along with the magic of the book in the same way as I was as 9 years old and read this book. I enjoyed it as much as that first time and not because it was comfortable and familiar but because it is gripping and engaging. I was sorely tempted to launch straight into the second book and only the knowledge that I had other reading commitments and the desire to savour them prevented me.
Since reading Harry Potter I’ve read a number of other series, and I often find the weakness in the first book in a series, particularly those involving an alternate world, is the world building which can drag down and interrupt the flow of the story, even those which are excellent books in every other respect. Its oddly particular to a series, as I rarely find it a problem in stand alone books which are forced to move at a faster pace. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, is one of the few books where I can say this is not an issue. Perhaps its because its a children’s book, and children would rapidly become bored if they had to struggle through world building paragraphs which interrupt the story, or perhaps it helps that Harry knows no more about the wizard world than the reader so we are learning alongside each other, and undoubtly it is due to JK Rowling’s brilliance as an author, but the world building required never drags down the story but is woven effortlessly into the narrative.
I cannot recommend this book and series highly enough both to adults and children alike. It is my go to book when buying books for children. I can say without a shadow of doubt Harry Potter remains one of my favourite books, both from my childhood (alongside Ballet Shoes, The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables) and as an adult (one of the few constants in an ever fluctuating list alongside Jane Austen).
P.S: I will be rereading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secret’s in August for anyone who cares to join me.
P.P.S: HAPPY BIRTHDAY JK ROWLING!!!