Jul 22, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

First of all, I will try to write a few paragraphs without spoilers, but there will be spoilers after the cut. Also, it is likely that the comments will end up having spoilers, so do not read them if you haven’t finished yet!

The seventh and last instalment of the Harry Potter series does not disappoint. Rowling ties up all the loose ends nicely, and manages to answer the remaining questions, as well as some others that are raised during this book.

It comes as no surprise that this is, by far, the darkest book in the series. The trio’s decision not to return to Hogwarts at the end of book 6 had assured that many of the familiar comforts of the other books would be absent. In their search for the remaining Horcruxes, Harry, Ron and Hermione have to face danger and hardship, and the mood of most of the book is rather bleak.

Even more than the previous books, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a page-turner. The story is action-packed, and I found myself reading feverishly and holding my breath half the time. Had this been a movie, I would have closed my eyes and hoped for the best at certain points. But among the danger, among the loss and the despair, there are still truly heart-warming moments, moments of happiness, moments of humour, moments that made me smile. New lives, love both old and new, laughter, friendship, bonding.

There are writers whose way with words I admire much more than Rowling’s. Sometimes I feel that her writing can be a little awkward, especially when dealing with strong emotions (Harry in book 5 would be an example of what I mean). However, she is excellent at plot and dialogue. She has created a world that feels extremely real, and characters I truly care about, as if they were people I know. This is why these books are so memorable for me, and it is a praiseworthy feat indeed.

Spoilers from here on:

Wow. I am not even sure what to say. These are mostly scattered thoughts because I’m not sure if I have digested everything yet.

So many deaths. At some point I was just thinking, “Please, no more. It’s enough”. I guess this goes to show the horror of a war – there are loses, and it would take a lot of luck for nobody Harry cared about to die. I felt bad enough for Hedwig at the start of the book, but then right after we have Mad-Eye, and then Dobby (poor Dobby!) and, worst of all, poor Fred. I felt terrible about Lupus too.

I was so disappointed with Ron when he left. I think I stopped liking him all together for a few pages, but I did forgive him fast enough when he returned. And I smiled when the true use of Dumbledore’s present was revealed. It goes to show that he truly knew his students.

As for Dumbledore, wow. So many things were revealed about him. I really like how in this book he became a more ambiguous character. It made him seem more human. Ultimately he was still good, but he made mistakes like most of us do. And I have to confess that I truly hated him for quite a few pages when I thought he had been raising and protecting Harry like a lamb for the slaughter. I felt ashamed of myself later on for thinking so, but really, that would have been so terrible. I imagine how Harry must have felt. But of course, Harry had to really believe he was going to die, or else it wouldn’t work, the killing curse wouldn’t just kill the bit of Voldemort in him.

And speaking of it, so Harry really was a Horcrux. For some reason, I thought that if he were one, it would mean that the snake wasn’t, but no, it only means Voldemort was split in eight after all. But that makes sense, of course. If he had known Harry was a Horcrux, he would have done something about it immediately.

Returning to ambiguous characters, the Malfoys didn’t do anything heroic after all, but they did help in little ways. I guess it wouldn’t be very believable if they had a complete change of heart, but they did prove that, despite being unpleasant, arrogant people, they are really terrible deep down.

Speaking of changes of heart: Kreacher! I was so happy to see him being conquered by kindness at long last! I actually laughed with delight when I saw him caring for Ron, Hermione and Harry like a loving mother.

And so it turns out that RAB really was Regulus Black, and that the locket was the one mentioned in book 5. There weren’t many doubts left concerning this – especially because just this week I read that the Portuguese translator actually leaked this information. She asked Rowling the gender of the character and Rowling gave her the full name, and she promptly passed this information to the press. How very unprofessional. So yeah, I wasn’t surprised with Kreacher’s tale. I did have some hope that Regulus would have been able to destroy one more Horcrux, but he couldn’t have known where to find them, so that would have been impossible.

What else…Snape! Oh, I was so glad to be right about this. In the light of what was revealed, I now think Snape definitely is one of the most interesting characters in the series. I actually had suspected that there was something about him and Lily. I loved how at the very end Harry says he was one of the bravest men he ever knew. I just wish he’d died more heroically. It seemed a bit unfair that he died like that, without the chance of doing something great. He endangered himself for so long, and for what? Well, I guess he did get to protect the students as the new Hogwarts headmaster.

I also didn’t much like the way Tonks’ and Lupin’s deaths were handled. I remember thinking, “okay, I’m sure no more important characters have died, because if they had, she would actually describe the scene, she wouldn’t just have someone report it and leave us wondering how they even died.” And then I turn the page, and there they are. It was really saddening.

I agree with Rhinoa that the scene at King’s Cross felt a little out of place. We were always led to believe that in the world of Harry Potter, the dead stay dead, unless they specifically desire to stay behind as ghosts. So it was strange to see Dumbledore again, but at the same time, I was too happy to be hearing from him to really mind. I’m glad he was given the chance to explain everything, to tell Harry what his intentions were. Of course he had to pretend that he was protecting Harry so he could be sacrificed at the right moment, or else the plan wouldn’t work. And it was good to hear that happened with his sister from his own lips. And so that’s what he say when he drank the potion. It makes sense.

Somehow I expected the hunt for the Horcruxes to be different – I expected the trip to travel to places like that cave, to be always on the trail of the next one. But it makes sense that they didn’t know where to start. The months they spent camping were so miserable, and I think they really tried the bonds that unite them. Fortunately, they were able to resist and remain friends. The way the locket affected those who wore it sort of reminded me of Frodo and the One ring.

Despite the bleak mood for most of the book, there were still moments that made me happy. First and foremost, Ron and Hermione’s kiss at long last. It took them almost 3000 pages! The news about Tonks’ baby was a ray of hope when it was most needed. I was very happy to see Neville being so brave and making a difference. And finally, seeing Molly kill Bellatrix was extremely satisfying.

And finally, the epilogue. I did wish for something more straightforward: that she would tell us who married who and what they grew up to become and whatnot. But at the same time, the way it was written really worked for me, because it made me feel that bit by bit the curtain was being closed, and these were the last glimpses of this world I was allowed to catch. I was filled with such sadness, such a great sense of loss, such longing. How I wished to accompany Albus and James and Rose – a new generation – into Hogwarts. How I wished I were allowed to remain in this wonderful world Rowling has created for longer.

In the end, I was left wanting more. I wanted to have seen Fred’s funeral at least, I wanted to mourn some characters properly. I wanted to know how George coped. I wanted to know how the others reacted to the truth about Snape. I wanted to know what the trio grew up to become. I wanted to know who raised Teddy. But this is what happens with great books, with books one really grows attached to. They have to end at some point, and no matter when it happens, it always seems too soon.

Reviewed at:
Rhinoa's Rambings
In Spring it is the Dawn
Dolce Bellezza
The Hidden Side of a Leaf
Stuff as Dreams are Made On
Trish's Reading Nook
Books & Other Thoughts
Musings of a Bookish Kitten
A Fondness for Reading
Orpheus Sings the Guitar Electric
Once Upon a Bookshelf
Valentina's Room
Tipping Towards Lucidity
Framed and Booked
My Year of Reading Seriously
Biblio File
Dog Ear Diary
Bart's Bookshelf
Back to Books
Lost in a Good Story
Diary of an Eccentric
My Own Little Reading Room
Books Love Me!
Books of Mee


  1. FFFFRRRRREEEEEDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    He was my favourite character and I didn't get a chance to mourn him, his death came at a point I couldn't stop. Oh and Snape, I loved him and knew he would be ok in the end. Dumbledore really did use him for his own ends and must have known the ultimate outcome for him. The character I felt most sorry for was Ted the son of Lupin and Tonks who will never know his parents. Poor kid, he will be just like Harry but without the scar to prove how brave his parents were. I was so glad Neville made it to the end and was a hero, I really thought he was for it at one point...

  2. Good job on guessing that Harry was a Horcrux! I was mad at Ron too when he left, and Dumbledore some of the time. It did make him more human and we should've known that he did have Harry's best interests at heart.
    I agree about Lupin and Tonks. Was their death necessary? It seemed so glossed over.
    The King's Cross chapter didn't bother me, especially since at the end Harry asks if it's all just in his head, and Dumbledore tells him it is. So we could simply imagine it as Harry working it all out in his mind. ??
    All in all a good end to the series I think. And these are certainly characters that we'll not forget easily.

  3. I was reading so quickly last night that I will have to go back and reread the last 100 pages or so. (I'm waiting for my British copy to arrive for that treat!) It took so long to build to the end, and half the time I was so dreadfully afraid for Harry, Ron, and Herminoe that I could barely grasp all the information. I always believed deep down that Dumbledore could not be wrong about making things right, or even his faith in Snape. Now, here's where I'm still confused: I have to double check why Snape had to kill Dumbledore in Half-Blood Prince, and I'm also confused about Harry and the King's Cross chapter. In my mind, he chose to leave Dumbledore, Sirius and his parents to "return to earth". However, when it's all said and done I am SO GLAD that good prevails. I don't think Rowling could've ended it any other way. What a wonderful, wonderful story.

  4. I've always thought that Rowling wasn't the best when writing death scenes, she could get a lot more out of them. But, everyone has weaknesses :).

    Was so glad that Snape turned out not to be evil, but again his death seemed somehow underwritten. Maybe it is because Rowling cares so much for her characters that she doens't want to dwell on their death scenes?

  5. Rhinoa: I know, I know :( Poor Fred. It broke my heart to see him go. I felt terribly sorry for little Ted too. At least he had his godfather, Harry, in a way that Harry was not allowed to have Sirius. But still, poor little boy.

    tanabata: Maybe it was Harry figuring it all out, yes, but I got the impression that he really was in contact with Dumbledore's spirit, since there were things I think he couldn't have known. Either way, it was great to see Dumbledore one last time. I will miss all the characters so much.

    Belleza: Like you, I think I really need to re-read it. I was reading feverishly: whenever there was a scene of danger, I was terrified one of the three main characters would go. I agree that what happened was probably that Harry chose to return to earth, and it could have been because he was still needed: Voldermort still had to be finished off. About Snape and Dumbledore, I think that he had to do it to keep his disguise as a Death Eater, and thus be able to protect Hogwart's students when they took over the school. And like you, I am so very glad the good side won! What a wonderful story indeed.

    Fence: It could be that, yes. I thought that the ones who died in the last few characters were not mourned properly, but I can understand her not wanting to single anyone out. If she showed Fred's funeral, for example, the people who like Lupin or Snape best would find it unfair.

  6. I am sad that Harry is completed, I will miss the magical and entertaining world that brought me such happiness. The deaths throughout the story are tragic and while we were prepared for the losses, for me the loss of hedwig was greatest. I feel in love with the Owl at the beginning of the story as Harry found out that his is/was special. When J.K.R. removed her from the story I cried. It was the realization to me that this would be my last journey into the magical world.

    I happy and satisfied with the way that the series ended. Although many will say that it is a Hollywood ending, and I for one would not have wanted it any other way.

  7. You're right. It really did seem like he was chatting with Dumbledore. Then again it's much like the headmasters portraits and being able to continue talking with them. I was glad that Harry got a chance to see Dumbledore again though and that scene didn't bother me.

  8. I am holding out for people to finish before I write my review but I am happy to be able to share the love with someone.

    I totally agree with the bloodbath and the ones that, IMO, was the worse was Hedwig. What the hell was that all about?!? She was in there for 5 seconds and, before that, all we get is that she is in her cage ignoring Harry. She didn't do NOTHING! I HATED that and I cried like a mad woman. :-(

    Then there was Dobby. I LOVED Dobby! But, unlike Hedwig, at least he got to do something. Also bawled my eyes out on this one. I didn't like that Snape died since he is my fave character. I am also mad that Harry didn't have time to say thanks or anything because honly learns that Snape was on his side AFTER the dude died. Ugh. At least I am glad that he names his secong born after him.

    Loved that Dumbledore was a flawed character. He was starting to be way too perfect for my liking. LOL.

  9. What a fantastic review!! It's so nice to know people went through so many of the same emotions I did.

    A couple thoughts--
    1) While I would have loved more time to grieve characters like Fred and Lupin and Tonks, it was so realistic just to come upon them as Harry did the latter too. He was finding out and getting blown away by the news of their death just as we were. And like us, it was no time to stop!

    2) I, too, would have like a more heroic death for Snape, but Snape and Harry had to have that moment I think. He had to die in such a way as to give Harry his memories, and finally let someone know how he was acting (I was sure he and Dumbledore had discussed his death beforehand!!!). Also, I think it gave us one of the more poignant moments of the book -- when he told Harry to look at him so he could see into the eyes of the one he had loved so long a final time.

    There are so many more things, but that's probably lengthy enough for now.

  10. I liked that some things were left unsaid, so that we can think and talk about the possibilities. But I did badly want to know if Harry raised Teddy. I think he did, because the younger kids referred to him as "our Teddy." But there was no definitive answer. I also didn't like Fred's death being left undiscussed. I most want to know how George managed.

    I was more upset when Dobby died than when George or Lupin died. I think, as someone mentioned, that it was because so much was going on that there wasn't time to stop and think about it.

    Hey, please come and discuss at the blog I made to keep mine spoiler free! And your readers, too, if they'd like.


  11. Anonymous: What upset me the most about Hedwig's death was that even Harry didn't seem to grieve her as much as I thought he would. I guess he was preoccupied with everything else that was happening, but still. I too am very satisfied with the way it ended.

    Tanabata: It didn't bother me either - it confused me a little at first, but the more I think back on it, the more I like the scene.

    Mailyn: Poor Hedwig, on top of everything she was upset at Harry when she died. I thought Harry would feel even worse about what happened because of that, but in the middle of everything else it was sort of forgotten. I really liked Dobby too. And I thought Harry's homage to Snape was very touching - I cried again when he said "he was the bravest men I've ever known." And I agree about Dumbledore!

    Alyson: The book was an emotional rollercoaster, wasn't it? And you're right - that's what it must have been like for Harry too, in the middle of everything there was no time to stop and grieve. I do wish we had been allowed of a glimpse of what it was like once the war was over, though. And yes - it was so beautiful and sad that Snape's dying wish was to see Lily's eyes one last time. And feel free to share your other thoughts!

    Dewey: The blog's a great idea! I'll be stopping by for sure. I wonder if it was Harry who raised Terry, or his grandmother Andromeda. She was all alone too after all, having lost her husband and her daughter. Either way, I'm sure Harry was very present in his life. I really wanted to know about George too.

  12. I don't htink I could have dealt with reading about Fred's funeral. I would've sobbed and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. He was one of my favourites from the beginning.

    Snape and Draco were the others, so I was VERY pleased with how this turned out for them. Especially Snape. I've always maintained that he was the most mysterious person in the whole series, which was my whole draw to him - you never knew exactly where he stood, and that made me want to get deeper and get to know more about him. I'm so happy that she explored Snape's past through the Pensieve. :)

  13. wow - what a review! i've only read the first two and i didn't really think i was going to read any more, but reading this really makes me wonder if i should..!

    at the very least, though, i am happy that she gave her reading the ending they deserve.

    i know your feeling of wanting more at the end. isn't that a wonderful feeling?!

    but its also such a its such a paradoxical feeling, because it clearly shows that the series was good and yet then you're left with that sadness of a desperate wish for more!

  14. Court: You're right, it probably would have been too much. The book was enough of an emotional rollercoaster as it was!
    I was very happy with how Snape was dealt with. I always thought he was an interesting character, but it was hard for me to get past the unpleasantness. I gained a whole new appreciation for him with this book, though!

    JP: You stopped right before the best book in the series (for me), book 3! Do give the rest a try when you have a chance. I think most fans agree that the series picked up as it went along. The characters became more complex, the plot more and more interesting, etc. And yes - despite the sadness, I do think it's a wonderful feeling!

  15. I really enjoyed your review, Nymeth. The book definitely was a roller coaster ride, wasn't it? Dobby hit me the worst, I think, because I loved him, and because his death was such a clear illustration of what Harry always feared most: loved ones getting killed by trying to protect him (just like his parents).

    You were spot-on about the horcrux, weren't you! I thought of you as I was reading that part of the book. :-)

    I love that HP is such a shared experience. People are reading it all over the place - at the pool, in restaurants, on the bus - it is so fun to stop and talk with them about it - an immediate connection with total strangers. I will miss that part of it most of all, I think!

  16. Finally! I got to read your review :) Good call on Harry the Horcrux! I read that and said out loud "Ana's right!" I was crushed immediately when Hedwig died and then it just didn't stop. Fred and Snape had to be the saddest death's for me. I didn't like Fred at the beginning of the series and he was one of my favorite characters towards the end. As far as Snape, he deserved better...not from Rowling, but from his own life if that makes sense :p

    I didn't like the way that Tonks and Lupin's death was handled. They were just sort of there, lying dead. She really could've handled that better..my only complaint.

    Kreacher made me smile too :)

    King's Cross...yes, it was a little out of place, but at the same time, I was glad it was there. It allowed us to have the Harry/Dumbledore talk at the end that we've become used to. It was nice to have that one last time.

    "Not my daughter, you bitch!" was my favorite line of the book :D gotta love Mrs. Weasley.

    The epilogue was okay, but I wanted more too. At the same time, I would've wanted more no matter what she would've done. She could've written 20 more books and I'd want more.

    Overall, I loved the book. I thought it was a perfect ending. It answered all my questions...nearly gave me a heart attack quite a few times...and it's already become my favorite of the series.

    Great review!

  17. Darla: Poor Dobby :( And it must have been horrible for Harry to see what he feared the most happening again and again. I do love that part of it as well - so many people reading the same book, sharing similar emotions, discussing it everywhere... it was a really nice thing to be a part of.

    Chris: Yay, I'm glad you're done now! About Harry being a Horcrux, I just thought it would be the only thing that could properly explain his connection with Voldemort. That had never been decently explained, and Rowling is good at giving explanations! And yeah, that makes sense... poor Snape, it was sad to see him die like that. I loved that line from Mrs. Weasley too. And as for the epilogue, I think that leaving us wanting more was exactly what she was aiming for. We got the feeling that the world she created would go on, but we'd be locked out of it from now on. It was very sad in a pleasant sort of way.

  18. Who decides which books get press (Harry Potter) and which get censored? After all, censorship is becoming America's favorite past-time. The US gov't (and their corporate friends), already detain protesters, ban books like "America Deceived" from Amazon and Wikipedia, shut down Imus and fire 21-year tenured, BYU physics professor Steven Jones because he proved explosives, thermite in particular, took down the WTC buildings. Free Speech forever (especially for books).
    Last link (before Google Books caves to pressure and drops the title):
    America Deceived (Book)

  19. I also loved the way Kreacher developed in this book. And that Dumbledore has developed into a flawed and as such more rounded character. I'm pleased to say I had faith in him throughout! *grin*

    I feel a little differently about Remus and Tonks' deaths, but you'll see that in my post which is going up later on. :)

  20. I really enhoyed your review! I think I left it too long between Book 6 and 7 so some things were a bit hazy - I can't wait to read them all again!

  21. Oh yeah, Dobby's death certainly shook me up. He's so helpful and everything and I thought he'd always be there for Harry. I didn't like Lupin dying too. So now none of the four good friends are alive anymore (James, Sirius, Lupin, Pettigrew). I thought Lupin will be the only one in the group to survive! I felt that he's more like a father towards Harry than Sirius. Even in the movie, the chemistry between Lupin and Harry was much better than the one between Harry and Sirius.

    Ah, about Ron, I knew that was coming. He's like second-best to everything when Harry's in the picture...we've read a lot about that in the previous books.

    Dumbledore! Really mysterious guy. Just like Snape. I was also really sad when I read about Snape's tale. Poor guy!

    Well, I'm glad that Draco Malfoy didn't turn out to be any bad guy. I like his character and hoped that he'll at least not help kill the good guys.

    All in all, HP7 was a great book! It's so sad that it's over. Voldemort's dead. No more secrets to uncover, no more adventures, no more guessing who's good and bad...

    And here's my review of Book 7. Your review is awesome!

  22. Here's my review of this one: http://wordlily.wordpress.com/2008/12/12/harry-potter-and-the-deathly-hallows-by-jk-rowling/


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - interaction is one of my favourite things about blogging and a huge part of what keeps me going.