Thursday 3 February 2022

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows... re-read!

I've just finished re-reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which I have read many times before. It really is a superb novel - especially for a Christian. 

The other six preceding Harry Potter novels are all good, in different ways - but there are many people who would find the Deathly Hallows a powerful, even transformative, experience - but would would find it unenjoyable to hack through the earlier (more child-orientated) HP novels to reach it. 

If so - do not be put off! You could do as I did and read plot summaries (or, if you prefer, watch movies) of the earlier books and then begin straight-in on the Deathly Hallows - or else (as I did) read summaries of the first five and start with book six (Half-Blood Prince) - which is the first fully adult novel and narratively-continuous-with Deathly Hallows.   

Christians who appreciate fantasy fiction should set-aside most of whatever they have heard about Harry Potter or JK Rowling, and at least have a look through Deathly Hallows. 

It might be one the great experiences of your reading life, as it was for me - as it was for Jerram Barrs


Francis Berger said...

I read the first Harry Potter when it came out and enjoyed it, but I became averse to reading the rest of the series after it became such a big hit with the masses (this kind of thinking has generally guided me well, but it also means I sometimes miss out on genuinely good things).

It seems the time to challenge that aversion has arrived. If nothing else, I'll follow your suggestion, read synopses, and go straight to Deathly Hallows. I'm curious to know how I will find it.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Frank - You may not like it - but I think you are right to give it a chance, just in case it also resonates with you.

The unusual thing with HP and the DH is that the people most likely to appreciate it most deeply, are the people most likely to be put off from reading it! This is why I make a point of (sort of) 'recommending' it here - which I generally avoid doing; since reading is so personal, and books need to be read at the right time and for the right reasons in order to be helpful.

a_probst said...

I may have mentioned this in a years-ago comment, but your mention of "Deathly Hallows" as the first fully adult novel of the series made me think of the work of Eleanor Cameron, who could almost be regarded as an American J.K. Rowling except that she wasn't anywhere near as high-selling and famous.

At ten I read her "Mushroom Planet" series. At that time the first book was already checked out, so I read the second, Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet. Her writing style was attuned to adults, the only concession to children was lack of wordiness; the books were short. When I caught the first volume, The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, I was surprised to see it written in a fashion that seemed to talk down to small children--but a couple of chapters in, she forgets herself and assumes the style that characterizes the rest of the series (five volumes in all). Strange that she didn't rewrite the earlier portion before publication.

At age 45 I reread the series, including the fifth volume, Time and Mr. Bass, which had just been published in the year I read the first four, but had not reached the school library. They hold up very well. Fairy tales for the space-travel era.

Jeffrey Cantrell said...

I agree that Deathly Hallows and Half-Blood Prince are excellent and can be red as a couplet. I would even describe them as epic. That being said, I read the entire Harry Potter series as they came out. The movies are a pale reflection of the books, but do contain a good summary of the stories in audio-visual format. At first the stories were just enjoyable yarns with a certain appeal or charm I couldn't put a finger on. Clearly they did follow the hero's journey propounded by Joseph Campbell. Later, I came to view them as truly divinely inspired. I still believe they are divinely inspired. I know that many Christians strongly disfavor the books or vociferously denounce them, but boiled down to their essence, aren't they just stories about a mother's love for her child? Isn't that Mary and Jesus? I agree with you (Dr. Charleton) that Christianity missed a great opportunity by failing to embrace the books.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JC - Well said! - Although I wouldn't say that Harry/ Lily - Mary/ Jesus was the essence of the story for me - but I'm not sure what is. Maybe the primacy of love, but that it must be backed by courage? That love and courage are what matter most, ultimately.

Jeffrey Cantrell said...

I confess that I didn't tumble to the Lily/Mary symbolism until I was discussing the series with my wife. As we talked, it just made sense. I also suspect that I saw the heroic coming of age symbolism immediately simply because I am a man.