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Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: two views

J K Rowling.  Bloomsbury , London 2003.  ISBN 0 7475 6940 1.(adult)  0 7475 5100 6 (children) £16.99

This book is probably the best Harry Potter book written by J K Rowley.  It is full of adventure with another Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher and Harry’s scar hurting more than ever.  You won’t be able to put it down.

It is quite a long book with 796 pages, so it’s good for a rainy day.

As you probably know, a close friend of harry dies, but you will have to read the book to find out who it is.  Dumbledore has a message for Harry – something he should have known five years ago…  

This is a brilliant book in which many secrets become clear.  I would recommend this book to other people giving it a five star rating.

 Louise Jenkinson (age 12)

In this long-anticipated fifth book, fifteen-year old Harry Potter is having his worst year ever after his duel with the evil Lord Voldermort during which Cedric Diggory died.  During the summer holidays where he stays with the awful Dursleys, Dementors attack him.  He is forced to use magic to defend himself and his cousin Dudley.  This triggers automatic expulsion from Hogwarts.  

Harry is taken under the wing of the secretive Order of the Phoenix , which is organised to fight Voldemort and his Death Eaters.  He wins an appeal against his expulsion and returns to Hogwarts to find it a changed place.  The Daily Prophet has been conducting a whispering campaign against him throughout the summer.  Even friends think he has gone all big-headed and delusional. He is angry and feels isolated.  It gets worse.  Hagrid has disappeared, the kindly Dumbledore seems to be avoiding him, homework piles up in this examination year and he is marked out for special attention by Professor  Dolores Umbridge, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher.  Umbridge is the nastiest literary villain since Uriah Heep.  Harry’s scar is hurting more than ever and he is troubled by very disturbing dreams.  

The Ministry of Magic doesn’t want to believe that Voldemort is back.  They try to suppress the truth, accusing Dumbledore of plotting to depose the minister, Cornelius Fudge.  The Ministry decides to lock down Hogwarts – that den of iniquity and subversion – and appoints Professor Umbridge as its High Inquisitor.  Hogwarts becomes like a nasty police state: a regime of fear where informers are rewarded and honest students and professors are expelled or mistreated.  

Harry does win out at the end of this massive volume, but at great cost.  He learns a lot about himself and uncomfortable truths about his nemesis, Professor Snape and his relationship with Harry’s murdered father and mother.  Even worse, one of his closest friends dies in a confrontation with Voldermort’s Death Eaters.  Wow!  This is a real page-turner.  Don’t miss it.

In the real world, author J K Rowling is herself coming under siege.  Fellow author A S Byatt has had a go at her 'derivative' books and slammed adults who read them. Sorry, AS but jealousy and envy are not pretty in anyone, even a celebrated literary personage like you.  Put away your claws and write a book somebody wants to read.

The press also seems to want to take Ms Rowling down a peg or two, possibly stung by her unflattering treatment of the journalistic profession.  The Guardian rubbished her books as too conservative, white, middle class and English.  The students at Hogwarts celebrate Hallowe’en and Adult edition Christmas, but not Diwali.  Oh dear!  Still, she can take comfort from the fact that most of her faithful readers are eagerly awaiting books six and seven.  So, ignore the brickbats and petty envies of liberal hacks and less successful authors.  Carry on Jo!  

David Kerr (age 46)

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