Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
by J. K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter #3
Published: July 8, 1999
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Format: eBook (435 pages)
Harry Potter is lucky to reach the age of thirteen, since he has already survived the murderous attacks of the feared Dark Lord on more than one occasion. But his hopes for a quiet term concentrating on Quidditch are dashed when a maniacal mass-murderer escapes from Azkaban, pursued by the soul-sucking Dementors who guard the prison. It's assumed that Hogwarts is the safest place for Harry to be. But is it a coincidence that he can feel eyes watching him in the dark, and should he be taking Professor Trelawney's ghoulish predictions seriously?
I love the way that J. K. Rowling twists traditional mythology and history. When at the beginning Harry is writing an essay about witch burning, it’s just funny that the witches thought it tickled when they were burned. The title of the essay, “Witch Burning in the Fourteenth Century Was Completely Pointless – discuss”, is just charming. There is so much great humor in the books that just didn’t make it into the movie. Ron’s phone call is my favorite. Even her book titles are funny. “Broken Balls: When Fortunes Turn Foul.” I just get giddy, now matter how many times I read these books, at the creativity and humor for even the minor details.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was so fun to re-read because she does an excellent job of foreshadowing. It’s so fun seeing something differently for the first time or knowing what she is talking about this time around instead of it being a mystery. I also noticed how good J.K. Rowling was at recapping the first two books very quickly and yet covered all the major things you needed to know. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed this before but there are a lot of letters and news clippings throughout the book. I liked how much depth it added. Definitely more interesting than just being told there was something in the newspaper.
Let’s gush a little more about J. K. Rowling’s writing. She has the best blunt honesty that somehow comes off as hilarious. For example, her observation of Aunt Marge loving to criticize people so Harry looks untidy on purpose to please her. And Ms. Rowling can spin a web of mystery better than an evil spider from Mirkwood. She presents these extremely probable but completely wrong answers to keep you off the trail until she wants you to know the answer. The best example of this was her clever clues about Sirius Black.
Harry’s bittersweet life and humble gratitude make him so likable and relatable. I say bittersweet because he is neglected by his family but his life at school is magical. Harry is very resilient and can joke about the bad things that people say about him. I thought it was an admirable quality. I also liked the life lessons that Harry learns at this point in the series. Sad things happen to Harry to give an opportunity for better things to happen – like when his broom got completely smashed.
Can I just say that I’m totally a Hermione and I would take 6 classes, including Muggle Studies, just to see how wizards viewed them.
Something I experienced for the first time was relating to the adults in the story. After having my son go to school the first time, I couldn’t imagine how hard it would be to put your kids on a train for an entire semester.
On a side note – I’m still curious about how special cats are in Harry Potter’s world since they are important in witch mythology. In the Harry Potter universe they seem to have more intelligence than an average cat, but I’m wondering if there is more to them than that.
I read this book along with Pottermore and I really enjoyed the rich backstories. Even though they never show up directly in the plots of her novels, it’s amazing to me the amount of thought that went into even minor characters. Marge Dursley, the awful aunt, has an entire backstory that makes everything click about why she acts the way she does. A huge hallmark of Ms.Rowling’s writing is that none of her characters do things without legitimate motivation even if we, the reader, don’t know what it is.
As far as the Pottermore website’s new look and navigation go, I hates them both. It’s hard to tell where you are in the story with the new layout. I really, really miss the old layout. Pottermore now looks like a bad social networking site with way too many sidebars cluttering things up. It’s just unattractive. I liked the ending quotes that used to be there so you knew where you were and now they are gone. It feels like you don’t need to read the book as much with the new site, which is sad. The one nice thing I have to say about it is kudos to them for being extremely accurate with what happens in the book. That being said, you should definitely check out the site for the awesome backstories and bonus material. They are pure gold.
Content Rating: Mild, for some violence and language.