Harry gets scary

Deanna Stevens

Plot thickens, deaths devastate in sixth Potter installment

Credit: Beth Rankin

In the sixth installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling picks up where The Order of the Phoenix left off. The wizarding world is at war, and the Muggle (non-magical folk) world is even being affected.

The plot begins to accelerate after Harry’s short stay with the Dursleys, where Harry is picked up by Hogwarts’ headmaster Albus Dumbledore.

Before dropping Harry off at the Burrow, the home of his best friend Ron and his family, Dumbledore makes a pit stop to recruit a new teacher, Horace Slughorn, whose memories later become vital to Harry and Dumbledore in their quest to overthrow the Dark Lord Voldemort.

Harry, Ron and Hermione, their other best friend, meet up at the Burrow before going back to school. To go along with the pre-Hogwarts fun, a trip to the now lifeless Diagon Alley shows an even smugger Draco Malfoy, Harry’s arch enemy at Hogwarts, is up to no good in Borgin and Burkes, a store that specializes in Dark Arts objects.

When he arrives back at Hogwarts, Harry is shocked to find out that former Death Eater (follower of Voldemort) Severus Snape is now teaching Defense Against the Dark Arts. Dumbledore’s hiring of Snape was highly questioned, but unchallenged due to his unwavering faith that Snape was on his side now.

In Harry’s newly taught Potions class, the Half-Blood Prince is introduced. The Half-Blood Prince was the owner of an old Potions textbook, which Harry so luckily gets his hands on. The “prince” seemed to be a potions master and wrote notes and spells within the book, making Harry a master as well. Yet, as can be expected, the prince causes more harm than good.

While things in the wizarding world are bad, things are great for the newly popular Harry Potter. Now that everyone knows Voldemort has come back to power, like Harry said he did, and since there have been rumors of him being “the chosen one,” Potter is quite the big man on campus. Even though, just a year ago, those same people who love him thought he was a conceited wannabe hero or just insane.

The three friends also have their share of teenage love triangles. Of course Ron and Hermione are still playing the jealousy game, which started in The Goblet of Fire, while Harry realizes he has feelings for Ron’s younger sister, Ginny.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is well written and connects well to the other five books in the series. The way Rowling uses ordinary aspects of the other books more extraordinarily within this book is very impressive. Tom Riddle’s diary from Chamber of Secrets, for example, is used to great effect here. Also, Dumbledore’s long-lasting trust in Snape is heavily tested.

Another devastating Death Eater-caused murder changes the whole outlook for the wizarding world. Without giving too much away, it seems as though the “good” characters should watch their backs in the future.

There has been believable — and much-needed — character growth, particularly with Harry Potter. All of the other characters return in this book, as well as more prominent roles for other minor characters.

Coming in at 652 pages, the most recent book is not as long as the previous two, but just as descriptive and imaginative. This book is definitely the darkest of the group, with much more deceit and death. Luckily, more questions have been answered than created in this story. And the climatic final battle between Harry and Lord Voldemort is beginning to take shape.

As for the shocking ending, it leaves a lot of questions as to how the war between good and evil will end. After the events of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, things will never be the same.

Contact general assignment reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].