'Deathly Hallows' a book for the ages

By Brenna English-Loeb

Senior Writer

With the release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I,” many fans of the series are returning to the books. Though they begin at the very beginning, with “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive,” the most important book is the seventh. Some readers refresh their memories of specific plot points to spot deviations from the text in the movie, while others hope to be able to follow along by the seat of their pants. Whatever the motive, anyone who has attempted to check out a Harry Potter book from their library in the last month is aware that this series is already timeless, with the ability to recapture a reader, even though years have passed since the original publication dates of its several installments.

With the Harry Potter series captivating such a large readership, an immense responsibility is placed upon the culminating book. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” ties up all the plot lines in one satisfying package. The ultimate question of how Harry will defeat the Dark Lord must be answered. Since Rowling left Harry with several Horcruxes to find and destroy before he can even think about approaching Voldemort, it’s no wonder the book is so long. A common criticism of “Deathly Hallows” is that it spends too much time following the trio of Harry, Ron and Hermione as the three camp around Britain, stagnant in their attempts to find and destroy the locket. While this does slow down the plot considerably, it helps establish the desolate mood and strained relationships of the Wizarding world.

It also allows the reader some quality time with the characters of the trio. Rowling is captivating with her action scenes and imaginative world-building, but her ability to give more than tantalizing characterizations is hardly seen. Finally we get a chance to see Harry, Ron and Hermione fully express themselves as burgeoning adults, far removed from the first glimpses we receive in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Harry is no longer the wide-eyed newcomer, nor is Hermione the bossy know-it-all. They are tied together by deep bonds of emotion and responsibility.

Perhaps because she has focused so much more time on Ron and Hermione, Rowling handles their relationship with considerably more poise than many others. Probably her weakest moments are those that pair up secondary characters. The unexpected marriage between Remus Lupin and Tonks in particular is void of all believability. Sadly, the continued relationship between Harry and Ginny remains just as lackluster. They barely have any moments together, and when they do, Rowling only allows Harry to keep insisting that Ginny stay behind for her own good and Ginny to beg to stay by his side. Readers are led to wish Ginny had more bearing on the series or had at least kept some of the character she exhibits in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”

Still, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” delivers as a capstone achievement. Rowling’s writing has developed over the course of the series. This can be seen in the contrast between the quality of the main body and the Epilogue, supposedly written first, which feels too neat. Long accused of becoming egregiously dark, here Rowling shows us just what she can really do, and it works. The shambles that the Wizarding society becomes feel real and necessary, even when more beloved characters fall beneath the onslaught of Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Of course “Deathly Hallows” cannot accomplish the wishes of every single reader, but it does a good job of bringing everything together. This, of course, has not deterred many fans from begging for more, an idea Rowling has fanned the flames of by hinting in interviews she may have more “Harry Potter” stories waiting in the wings.

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