Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J K Rowling is the sixth book of the series and once again I find myself just awed by the series as a whole. I’ve said before that each book becomes progressively darker and this one finally gives a long anticipated loss that still manages to bring tears to my eyes, even though I’m not reading this book for the first time.
I don’t cry easily and I don’t think it would take all the fingers of both hands to count how many books have made me cry in my lifetime. That this book made me tear up more than once, especially given that the climactic moment is one I had anticipated for at least two books already, just explains why I’m willing to revisit these books when there are so many unread books out there waiting for me.
Harry is no longer as annoying as he was in the previous book. The experiences have matured him and he is now burdened with an awareness he did not have before. With each volume, Harry’s innocence is stripped away as his own suffering and loss become greater. Other characters likewise change. Needless to say, Ron and Hermione remain loyal friends. Dumbledore, unlike in the previous book, takes Harry into his confidence and asks of him what he asks of no other student. Even Draco seems to have lost some of his arch-nemesis status as he no longer seeks out opportunities to harass and annoy Harry and his friends.
However, from the first chapter the awareness that stakes have yet again become higher and Harry is going to face more this year than he ever has before is obvious. He is not alone in carrying a burden or with a consciousness of his own fate. The enemy must be faced and someone is going to die.
I’ve already said that the inevitability of what occurs in this book could not have come as a surprise to older readers but that even the older readers continued to read the books is further evidence of Rowling’s story-telling prowess. I’ve alluded before to things that are mentioned briefly in previously volumes that come up again in later ones. Needless to say, this one is no different and a necklace (#2), a cabinet (#2, #5), a bezoar (#1) all turn up and become pivotal whereas before they were just momentary allusions that had no relevant weight.
When I first read this book, I hurried through the reading so I could pass my copy on to my son for him to read. I came downstairs after reading the book and handed it to him. I didn’t say anything. To him or to my other children. I just went into the kitchen, got myself a drink, and went back upstairs. I was so deeply touched by how Rowling handled what I knew would happen, allowing the reader to see the aftermath of the events more so than in the previous volumes. The last sentence of the book (actually the last paragraph which is one rather long sentence) draws it all to a perfect conclusion while building anticipation. There is a delicate balance of emotions being drawn out in the final chapters and it is summed up in that last paragraph so beautifully it is no wonder that people anticipated the long-promised seventh book with an eagerness rarely afforded a book.
And now to read the seventh book, the only Harry Potter book I’ve only read one time. It made me cry the first time and I think it’s safe to say it will make me cry again. After all, this book did and I honestly wouldn’t have expected it to do so, all things considered.