Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
J K Rowling
London, Bloomsbury, 1999, 251p
So you might think that I should start with the Philosophers Stone if I am going to write a post about Harry Potter. Well you were wrong. Chamber of Secrets is better.
This maybe be partly due to the regular visits Hermione makes to the library through this book. As Ron says,
"That's what Hermione does. When in doubt, go to the library."The characters start in a book shop, where Gilderoy Lockhart is signing books, and proceed to make excessive use of the library in order to find out more about the Chamber. My only issue with Rowling's writing is that she doesn't seem capable of imagining a friendly, welcoming librarian.
What I loved most about this book is Tom Riddle. It's equally fascinating and terrifying to meet the childhood version of You Know Who. This character is someone who Rowling comes back to in the later novels, but I prefer him in Chamber of Secrets before you know who he is. Riddle seems like a fairly normal boy, making it all the more incredible that he becomes Harry's greatest enemy.
I also adore Gilderoy Lockhart. He is hilarious. Completely deluded and self-centred, but utterly charming. We all know someone like this.
I don't think anyone can doubt that Chamber of Secrets is the best of the Harry Potter series. It has everything: the introduction of Dobby, the Weasley's home at the Burrow, Diagon Alley, the Whomping Willow, ghosts, quidditch, potions, giant spiders and angry snakes, and most importantly of all, a showdown against Voldemort in an underground lair.