July 25, 2005
'Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince': The Kirkus Review
Review Date: JULY 25, 2005
Classification: ONLINE EXCLUSIVE
Revealed at last–now that the fog of whipped-up anticipation, secrecy, hints, threats, news stories of legal action, wild speculation, midnight-oil-burning and marketing smoke is thinning–the penultimate Potter sequel delivers, as have its predecessors, a tale worth the wait. Readers who felt a bit hammered by the adolescent rage coloring Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2003) will be relieved to find that Rowling has returned to the lighter tone of earlier episodes, though properly portentous events do swirl in the background, and, as promised: There Is a Death.
Harry enters his sixth year at Hogwarts knowing that he has a pivotal role to play in the now-open war against Voldemort, sure that Draco Malfoy is up to something, and more than a little conflicted by his attraction to Ginny Weasley, sidekick Ron's suddenly not-so-little sister. Harry's relationship to Dumbledore is entering a new phase, too, as under the kindly old wizard's direct guidance, he begins taking trips through a series of magically preserved memories to explore his archenemy's parentage and character.
Meanwhile, Harry's glee at getting a leg up in Potions class thanks to a heavily annotated old textbook that once belonged to a mysterious “Half-Blood Prince” rivals his discomfort at being caught between Ron and Hermione, who are going through a rocky patch, and the horror of discovering that his new Defense Against the Dark Arts instructor is none other than hated, hateful Severus Snape. How could Dumbledore possibly insist, as he repeatedly does, that Snape is a trustworthy ally?
While charting teenage infatuations and friendships with a wry wit that occasionally tumbles into outright merriment, Rowling tucks in several revelations (notably, the secret to Voldemort's seeming immortality), adds a dash of sympathy for Malfoy (of all people!), who does indeed turn out to be part of an ugly scheme, and further develops Snape's role as a pivotal character. Then, after a heartrending test of Harry's loyalty to Dumbledore, Rowling propels the plot to a climax that is–thanks to artful pre-pub preparation–tragic, but not uncomfortably shocking. This newest excursion into the Potterverse will leave readers pleased, amused, excited, scared, infuriated, delighted, sad, surprised, thoughtful–and likely wondering where Voldemort has got to, since he appears only in flashbacks. There's no doubt, however, that he'll figure prominently in what promises to be a spectacular finish.
ROWLING, J. K. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. illus. by Mary GrandPré. 672p. Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine Bks. 2005. Tr $29.99. ISBN 0-439-78454-9; PLB $34.99. ISBN 0-439-78677-0. LC 2005921149.
Gr 5 Up–Opening just a few weeks after the previous book left off, the penultimate entry in the series is, as the author foretold, the darkest and most unsettling yet. The deeds of Voldemort's Death Eaters are spreading even to the Muggle world, which is enshrouded in a mist caused by Dementors draining hope and happiness. Harry, turning 16, leaves for Hogwarts with the promise of private lessons with Dumbledore. No longer a fearful boy living under the stairs, he is clearly a leader and increasingly isolated as rumors spread that he is the “Chosen One,” the only individual capable of defeating Voldemort. Two attempts on students' lives, Harry's conviction that Draco Malfoy has become a Death Eater, and Snape's usual slimy behavior add to the increasing tension. Yet through it all, Harry and his friends are typical teens, sharing homework and messy rooms, rushing to classes and sports practices, and flirting. Ron and Hermione realize their attraction, as do Harry and Ginny. Dozens of plot strands are p
The Barnes & Noble Review
After months of frenzied anticipation and wild speculation about the identity of the Half-Blood Prince, the numerous bombshells and incredible plot twists in the sixth, ever-darkening installment of J. K. Rowling's bestselling Harry Potter saga will leave readers as shocked and stunned as they are utterly satisfied.
As the novel begins, a "grim mood" has fallen over the country. The minions of Lord Voldemort (a.k.a. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named) continue to grow as his evil spreads. The Ministry of Magic has stepped up security everywhere, and as Harry enters his sixth year at Hogwarts, he begins to see himself -- and everyone around him -- in a different, more discerning, light. With rumors swirling about Harry being the prophesied "Chosen One," he begins taking private lessons from Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore. As Dumbledore prepares Harry for his destined clash with Voldemort by revealing jaw-dropping insights into the Dark Lord's past -- who his parents were, what happened after he left Hogwarts, and more -- Harry also struggles to uncover the identity of the Half-Blood Prince, the past owner of a potions textbook he now possesses that is filled with ingenious, potentially deadly, spells. But Harry's life is suddenly changed forever when someone close to him is heinously murdered right before his eyes....
With only one book to go before the series' projected conclusion, Rowling masterfully sets the stage for what will surely be an epic battle to end all battles. The chess pieces are all in place for a magic-powered endgame that will be as thrilling as it is bittersweet. Paul Goat Allen
The journey from child to adult is tough enough for ordinary mortals, but the trip has been unusually hazardous for the world-famous wizard-in-training. Rowling shepherds her hero's arduous trek to maturity with her customary grace and good humor, though she has infused her story with more bone-cracking and blood-spattering than may be tolerable for many of the young readers who have followed Harry's adventures so far.
The Washington Post
… the darkest and most unsettling installment yet … It is a novel that pulls together dozens of plot strands from previous volumes, underscoring how cleverly and carefully J. K. Rowling has assembled this giant jigsaw puzzle of an epic … the achievement of the Potter books is the same as that of the great classics of children's literature, from the Oz novels to The Lord of the Rings: the creation of a richly imagined and utterly singular world, as detailed, as improbable and as mortal as our own.
The New York Times
These newest 652 pages - far darker than those that preceded them - are leavened with humor, romance and snappy dialogue, and freighted with secrets, deepening bonds, betrayals and brutal lessons, many of them coming from the sinister, Harry-hating Severus Snape, master of the dark arts. Up to now, Harry, while overcoming any number of harrowing trials, has managed to retain a trusting nature; but at 16, worsening circumstances force him to realize that even though he regards himself as ''Dumbledore's man through and through,'' he must also be his own man.
The New York Times Sunday Book Review
Dale gets his A game on once again, returning to the wizarding realm where his previous visits have earned him accolades that include a Grammy. By this sixth installment, Dale has created well over 130 different voices, shifting easily from his own slightly Americanized British accent to distinctive Scottish, French and regional English takes. In addition to keeping stars Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore and Hagrid firmly identifiable and in the fore this time, he serves up a delightful spin on Professor Horace Slughorn, the new teacher at Hogwarts. Slughorn's smarmy tone and Dale's guttural delivery are a winning and memorable combo. As Harry's saga darkens and his adventures become more perilous, Dale also gets to explore deeply villainous voices-with evil hisses and sharp edges-more than ever (but we won't tell you whose). Ages 9-up. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Gr 5 Up-Opening just a few weeks after the previous book left off, the penultimate entry in the series is, as the author foretold, the darkest and most unsettling yet. The deeds of Voldemort's Death Eaters are spreading even to the Muggle world, which is enshrouded in a mist caused by Dementors draining hope and happiness. Harry, turning 16, leaves for Hogwarts with the promise of private lessons with Dumbledore. No longer a fearful boy living under the stairs, he is clearly a leader and increasingly isolated as rumors spread that he is the "Chosen One," the only individual capable of defeating Voldemort. Two attempts on students' lives, Harry's conviction that Draco Malfoy has become a Death Eater, and Snape's usual slimy behavior add to the increasing tension. Yet through it all, Harry and his friends are typical teens, sharing homework and messy rooms, rushing to classes and sports practices, and flirting. Ron and Hermione realize their attraction, as do Harry and Ginny. Dozens of plot strands are pulled together as the author positions Harry for the final book. Much information is cleverly conveyed through Dumbledore's use of a Pensieve, a device that allows bottled memories to be shared by Harry and his beloved professor as they apparate to various locations that help explain Voldemort's past. The ending is heart wrenching. Once again, Rowling capably blends literature, mythology, folklore, and religion into a delectable stew. This sixth book may be darker and more difficult, but Potter fans will devour it and begin the long and bittersweet wait for the final installment.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.