Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

by J. K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter 2
Reviewed date: 2012 Jan 11
Rating: 3
352 pages
cover art

Harry Potter is back, and the second time around is better than the first. Harry returns to Hogwarts for his second year, but not before Dobby the house elf warns him to stay away from Hogwarts. As an aside, Dobby is nothing but irritating, and I wish Rowling had written him out of the story. But I've no doubt he will play an important role in books to come.

As soon as Harry gets to Hogwarts, things start happening: Harry hears voices. Classmates are turned to stone. Rumors swirl. It seems someone has opened the Chamber of Secrets that purportedly lies beneath Hogwarts. But who? Only the heir of Slytherin can open the chamber, or so the legend goes. And then suspicion turns to Harry: can he be the heir of Slytherin?

No, of course not. Harry is not involved. But here J. K. Rowling ties in some loose ends from the previous book. Harry's strange experience with the boa constrictor at the zoo is not just a freak occurrence: Harry is a parselmouth--he can understand and talk to snakes. That disturbs everyone at Hogwarts. Parselmouths are associated with the Dark Arts, and furthermore, Slytherin was a parselmouth.

Now at this point, we can begin to guess what's happening. The voice Harry is hearing is the creature from the Chamber of Secrets, which must be a type of snake. (It's a basilisk.) As for Harry being a parselmouth, that's not actually an evil thing--and later it's revealed to be an ability he absorbed from Lord Voldemort, when Voldemort attempted to kill him as a baby.

As for Voldemort, it's not surprising that Voldemort is behind the Chamber of Secrets. It was he who opened the Chamber, working through the mind of Ginny Weasley, whom he had manipulated via a magic journal. Harry and his friends locate the Chamber, and Harry defeats the basilisk and prevents Voldemort from regaining physical form. The Chamber is close, the danger is gone. And for special services to Hogwarts, Harry and Ron are awarded 200 points each for Gryffindor--which wins them the House Cup!

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