Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Author: J.K. Rowling

Published By: Scholastic Inc.

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            The Harry Potter series of books by J.K. Rowling is quite addictive.  No sooner have you finished one but you want to start reading another.  The next book on my list was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  I’d thought I’d seen all of the Harry Potter films to date, but as I read this one, I realized that I had only seen parts of this chapter in Harry Potter’s life.  The rest was going to be all new to me!  I couldn’t wait.

            We come upon Harry as he is getting ready for his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  Living at home with his aunt, uncle and cousin has been filled with the usual hell and Harry can’t wait to get back to his friends and teachers.  Unfortunately, before he can do that, he must weather a visit from Aunt Marge, his Uncle Vernon’s sister.  Aunt Marge and her nasty dog detest Harry more than his own aunt and uncle and her visits are usually worse than unpleasant. 

            Things are going surprisingly well though until she insults his mother and father.  In a fit of rage, Harry inadvertently causes Aunt Marge to inflate and…float away.  Knowing what is in store for him at the Dursely’s and fearing expulsion from Hogwarts for using magic in the Muggle World, Harry runs away only to find himself being picked up by The Knight Bus and transported to Diagon Alley where he runs into the Minister of Magic and learns he will not be expelled.  In fact, the Minister of Magic seems more than overjoyed to see him and quite a bit nervous.

            Everyone seems to be a bit nervous now that a particularly nasty murderer has escaped from Azkaban.  Sirius Black, believed to be a co-conspirator to Voldemort, has been at Azkaban for years, sentenced there after using his magic to murder a wizard and a great many Muggles.  Hogwarts has upped security and its grounds are surrounded by Dementors, horrific creatures that normally guard Azkaban, sucking the life out of the prisoners there.

            For some reason, Harry has a particular aversion to these creatures, one that the new teacher of the Defenses Against the Dark Arts class attempts to help him with.  Professor Lupin is a very interesting teacher and his lessons are incredibly fun.  Unfortunately, he suffers from a strange malady and misses classes for days at a time.  Another of Harry’s teachers, Sybill Trelawney, professor of the Divination class, is convinced that she sees terrible death in Harry’s eminent future.

            To make matters worse, it would appear that Sirius Black has escaped Azkaban for one reason - he’s after Harry Potter.  It is believed that if Harry is captured by Sirius Black, he will be killed…or worse…he could be used as an offering to Voldemort.  Can Harry survive another year at Hogwarts or will Professor Trelawney’s predictions come true?

            Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is one of those fast reads that you are loathe to put down.  I didn’t have a great deal of time to read the week I decided to enjoy this novel.  Thus, I would sit down for a few minutes each night and try to get a little headway on the story.  As it turned out, the story flowed so perfectly and moved so quickly, I read at least fifty pages a night and was done with it in no time.

            Each novel in the series reveals a little bit more about Harry Potter’s parents.  This one delves into his father’s friendships, this parents’ betrayal and the last moments of his mother’s life as she protected her son from Voldemort.  An amazing revelation takes place in which we learn that one of the characters present through the last couple of novels is not exactly who he seems.  In fact, nothing is as it seems in this novel and there are a great many twists and turns in the plot until the very end of the book.

            I loved the symbolism in this novel in particular.  The names of the characters seem to offer clues about them.  If I were to expand upon this, I would be giving the story away, but I urge future readers to examine closely some of the names of each character in this novel and discover why J.K. Rowling may have used them for those particular individuals.

            I thoroughly enjoyed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, a much darker novel than the last two to be sure.  I expect that things will grow darker still as the story moves forward and Harry matures.  OF course there were quite a few humorous moments.  Levity is always a good way to lighten up the heavy hitting dark moments.  Rowling does this perfectly, never watering down the evil Harry faces, but making it easier for her audience to adjust to the darker tale her story is about to become. 

            Now that I know what happens at the end of this novel, I finally understand the events of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  I can’t wait to see if that novel is as entertaining as the movie based upon it.


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