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From Barnes & NobleJ. K. Rowling continues her phenomenally popular Harry Potter series with yet another tale of magic, mirth, and mayhem. Like its predecessor, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (the first book in the series), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is chock-full of fascinating characters, frightful events, and fun wizardry.
Harry's on summer break after completing his first year at the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, and his aunt, uncle, and cousin are as mean as ever, trying at every turn to keep him from fulfilling his destiny as a wizard. Their efforts to prevent his return to Hogwarts are aided by an unknown force: a mysterious elf who shows up and warns Harry that he must never return to the school. Before departing, the elf performs a bit of mischievous magic that is blamed on Harry. As a result, Harry not only gets a stern warning from Hogwarts for using magic in the "real" world; he is also locked away by his aunt and uncle in a tiny closet beneath the stairs.
Harry is eventually rescued by his classmates and friends, the redheaded Weasleys, but getting back to Hogwarts still proves to be a challenge. When he finally does get there, his troubles quickly multiply. Someone has opened the door to the Chamber of Secrets, releasing a deadly monster with the power to kill. Several classmates turn up petrified, and in addition to trying to puzzle out who the culprit is, Harry finds himself a prime suspect. The truth lies down the end of a trail marked by a magical diary with invisible ink, a ghost who hides inside a toilet, a flying car, a pompous new teacher with a talent for hyperbole, and some ghastly giant spiders. When one of Harry's friends is imprisoned and another is turned to stone, Harry is forced to once again confront his archenemy, the Dark Wizard Voldemort, who has a whole new bag of nasty tricks up his sleeve.
Rowling packs this tale with plenty of adventure and action, keeping the pace fast and furious. There's plenty of humor, too -- both subtle and bold -- as well as a few moral lessons. With overlapping themes that range from the simple (treating others with courtesy) to the sophisticated (racism), Rowling's Potter tales should appeal to readers of all ages -- the young as well as the young at heart.