The wait is over. The speculation has ceased. The final chapter of the seventh book of the Harry Potter series has been read and relished. Rowling did not disappoint. If you’re one among the jovial crowd that waited in line at midnight last Friday and eagerly started reading while you stood in the check out line, you already know this. If on the other hand, you are one of those who scratch their heads and wonder why Harry Potter costumes come in adult sizes, perhaps this review can create enough interest that you see beyond the frenzy to the classic elements that make Harry’s saga a true hero’s journey. There are no spoilers here, so if you haven’t finished the book read on without fear.
From the first book, Rowling established Harry as an unassuming hero raised in neglect and contempt that belie future greatness. There’s also no doubt from the start that Harry has a destiny linked inexorably to the powerful dark wizard from whom he bears his famous lightening bolt scar. Honing magical skills and facing interim challenges from He Who Must Not Be Named over the past six years, Harry is coming of age. Along with his best mates Hermione and Ron, Harry is on a search for horcruxes, those significant, but unknown items where the Dark Lord has hidden pieces of his soul that assures he can always rise from the dead. If war is days of boredom broken up by spaces of sheer terror, the companions are indeed at war. As in previous volumes, things are rarely as they appear. Help comes from unlikely sources, former enemies provide surprising assistance, minor characters play pivotal roles, and loyal friends return kindness shown in the past. In the larger scheme, Rowling underlies the action with a message of the power of love. Not the sappy, shot through the heart kind, although we see a sprinkling of that, but the larger brotherhood of mankind love, the kind of love that allows you to give your life for another. War is not without losses. Strength comes after hardship and pain. It’s after you’re willing to give all that the true magic happens.
Rowling’s success doesn’t lie in showing us a magic world different from our own, but one so similar that we can see ourselves being tested to the very limit as Harry is tested and hoping that we, too, are up to the challenge. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is available at the Uinta County Library, 701 Main Street.
Reviewed by Suzi Worthen 8/3/2007