The Court of the Air (Jackelian #1) by Stephen Hunt

The Court of the Air (Jackelian #1) by Stephen Hunt
Publisher/Year: Harper Voyager, 2007
Format: UK paperback
Pages: 582
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Goodreads

Summary

Two orphans on the run, each with the power to save the world…

When streetwise Molly Templar witnesses a brutal murder at the brothel she has recently been apprenticed to, her first instinct is to scurry back to the poorhouse where she grew up. But there she finds her fellow orphans butchered, and it slowly dawns on her that she was the real target of the attack.

Oliver Brooks has led a sheltered existence in the backwater home of his merchant uncle. But when he is framed for his only relative’s murder he is forced to flee for his life, accompanied by an agent of the mysterious Court of the Air.

Molly and Oliver each carry secrets in their blood–secrets that will either get them killed or save the world from an ancient terror. Thrown into the company of outlaws, thieves and spies as they flee their ruthless enemies, the two orphans are also aided by indomitable friends in this endlessly inventive tale full of drama, intrigue and adventure.

What I thought

My thoughts on this book are a lot like this book in itself–all over the place. On one hand, I struggled with it, and on the other hand, I loved it. So meanwhile, I’m also kinda wondering: what the hell did I just read?

This wasn’t my first rodeo–I’ve read high fantasy before. Even steampunk fantasy. But honestly? I feel like most of my struggles with this book could have been resolved with two things: a map and a glossary. Don’t mistake me, I’m certainly not one to complain when an author makes a reader do a little work when it comes to world building. But c’mon, throw a dog a bone, man. I finished this book feeling like I didn’t grasp a good portion of it, but also still kind of loving it.

Because for as confusing as this book could be, I tried to just ride the waves because I loved how unique and imaginative and different this was. I was totally sucked into this world as I read, even though I couldn’t even begin to try and describe it.

Overall, this has to be one of the strangest books I’ve ever read and one of of the strangest reading experiences I’ve ever had. I really don’t know if I’d recommend this to everyone, unless you’re in the mood for a challenge. As for me, I think I’d certainly like to continue this series–I’m not ready to be done with this world just yet.

The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids (Amra Thetys #1) by Michael McClung

The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids (Amra Thetys #1) by Michael McClung
Publisher/Year: Michael McClung, 2012
Format: E-book (Nook)
Pages: 204
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Goodreads

Summary

Amra Thetys is a thief with morals–she won’t steal from anybody poorer than she is. Fortunately, anybody that poor generally doesn’t have much worth stealing!

But when a fellow thief and good friend is killed in a deal gone wrong. Amra turns her back on burglary and goes after something far more precious than jewels or gold: Revenge.

What I thought

Ahh, nothing better than a five-star read to approach the end of the year! This book was SO GOOD. I was hooked from the first chapter, and the ending had me feeling not ready to leave this world yet. I’m so ready to dive into the rest of this series!

What I loved most about this book was Amra, hands down. I just really liked her! She was fierce and tough, witty and sarcastic. And she could hold her own–without a love interest and without beauty. I became so fond of her as a character, which I love when I’m reading.

Also, can I just say that it blows me away that this was self-published? It was so well-written. The story hooked me from the start, and the plot moved effortlessly and carried me the rest of the way. The writing was at times poignant and at others hilariously clever. I also loved the world building Amra tells the story and she doesn’t go into any long-winded exposition about her world. You pick up bits and pieces as you go, and I just loved that.

I’d highly recommend this! If you are looking for a good fantasy read, this book is not to be missed!

Black Leviathan by Bernd Perplies

Black Leviathan by Bernd Perlies, translated by Lucy Van Cleef
Publisher/Year: Tor, 2020
Format: ARC – paperback
Pages: 331
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Goodreads

Summary

Moby-Dick unfolds in a world of dragon hunters in this epic revenge fantasy

A shadow will cover you, larger than that cast by any other dragon of this world. Black as the lightless chasm from whence it was born at the beginning of time.

In the city of Skargakar, residents make a living from hunting dragons and use them for everything from clothing to food.

Lian does his part, carving the kyrillian crystals that power the hunting ships through the cloud sea, but when he makes an enemy of a dangerous man, Lian ships out on the next vessel available as a dragon hunter.

But his new captain hunts more than just any dragon. His goal is the Firstboarn Gargantuan–and Adaraon is prepared to sacrifice everything for revenge.

What I thought

Thank you to Tor and Tor Teen for the free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

This is my absolute least favorite type of review to write, so I’m going to keep it short, sweet, and to the point.

I wanted to love this book so much more than what I did. What I DID love, though, was the idea behind this story and the worldbuilding. I mean, Moby Dick but with dragons is easily one of the most unique fantasy premises that I have read in some time. And I loved how it was done! The world here was seriously SO cool, and the world building was so on point that I had this perfect picture in my mind as I read, which is one of my favorite parts of reading good fantasy.

Honestly, I can’t quite pinpoint what it was about this book that didn’t do it for me. I didn’t feel close to any of the characters, and I wasn’t riveted by the plot–but as to why I felt both of those things, I’m not sure. The only thing I can figure is the translation. I thought the translator did a great job, don’t get me wrong. I think maybe the story itself just didn’t translate well.

This really was a good book, I just didn’t love it like I had hoped. If you are looking for a good twist on a classic tale, or if you’re looking for a good old rollicking epic adventure story, I would definitely recommend this one. Even though I didn’t LOVE it, it was still a solid entertaining addition to the genre.

The Eye of Zeus (Legends of Olympus #1) by Alane Adams

The Eye of Zeus (Legends of Olympus #1) by Alane Adams
Publisher/Year: SparkPress, 2020
Format: Paperback
Pages: 301
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Goodreads

Summary

Meet Phoebe Katz, a twelve-year-old foster kid from New York City who’s been bounced around the system her entire life. Things happen around Phoebe, but it’s not like they’re her fault! But when a statue of Athena comes to life, Phoebe gets the stunning news: she’s the daughter of Zeus and was sent away from ancient Greece as a baby to stop a terrible prophecy that predicted she would one day destroy Olympus.

Athena warns Phoebe to stay in hiding, but when the vengeful god Ares kidnaps her beloved social worker, Phoebe has no choice–she has to travel back to Ancient Greece and rescue him. There, she and her friends Angie and Damian discover a new prophecy, one that may fix everything. The catch: Phoebe has to collect talismans from six Greek monsters, including the fan from a nine-headed hydra, a talon from the Nemean lion, and a feather from the Sphinx. No problem for a girl with the power to call up lightning bolts and change the weather–but can Phoebe collect them all and stop the prophecy before she destroys Olympus?

What I thought

Thank you to BookSparks and Alane Adams for the free finished copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

When in times of stress, sometimes you just need a good, old-fashioned adventure story, and The Eye of Zeus definitely fits the bill!

Alane Adams’ writing skill shines through this story, as she takes readers to ancient Greece alongside Phoebe and her friends, Damian and Angie. The plot moves continuously forward in a way that will draw even the most reluctant reader, and Adams uses description in a way that’s light so as not to bog down the story while still bringing the adventure vividly to life. Phoebe is a spunky and funny protagonist, and the reader will find it easy to relate to her while still being amused by the antics of Phoebe and her friends.

I haven’t read Percy Jackson, so I can’t really speak as to how these two stories compare, however I think it’s safe to say that if you have a reader itching for another book involving Greek mythology, The Eye of Zeus is a solid and accessible tale of ancient Greece. Told with tons of heart and humor, this book was a fun way to spend a weekend!

Highfire by Eoin Colfer

Highfire by Eoin Colfer
Publisher/Year: Harper Perennial, 01/28/2020
Format: ARC/Paperback
Pages: 373
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Goodreads

Summary

In the days of yore, he flew the skies and scorched angry mobs–now he hides from swamp tour boats and rises only with the greatest reluctance from his La-Z-Boy recliner. Lying low in the bayou, this once-magnificent fire breather, Wyvern, Lord Highfire of the Highfire Eyrie, who struck fear in hearts far and wide, is reduced to lighting Marlboros with nose sparks, swilling Absolut in a Flashdance T-shirt, and binge-watching Netflix in a fishing shack. He is the last of his kind, the last dragon, yet no amount of vodka can drown the loneliness in his molten core. Vern’s glory days are long gone–or are they?

A canny Cajun swamp rat, young Everett “Squib” Moreau does what he can to survive, trying not to break the heart of his saintly single mother. He finally decides to work for a shady smuggler, but on his first night, he witnesses his boss murdered by a crooked constable.

Regence Hooke is not just a dirty cop, he’s also a despicable human being who wants Squib’s momma in the worst way. When Hooke goes after his hidden witness with a grenade launcher, Squib finds himself airlifted from certain death by…a dragon?

The swamp can make strange bedfellows, and rather than be fried alive so the dragon can keep his secret, Squib strikes a deal with the scaly apex predator. He can act as Vern’s go-between (a.k.a. familiar)–fetch his vodka, keep him company, etc.–in exchange for protection from Hooke. Soon the three of them are careening headlong toward a combustible confrontation. There’s about to be a fiery reckoning, in which dragons finally become extinct–or Vern’s glory days are back.

A triumphant return to the genre-bending fantasy that Eoin Colfer is so well known for, Highfire is effortlessly clever and a relentless tour de force of comedy and action.

What I thought

Thank you to Harper Perennial for the free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

I can honestly say that this was the most FUN I’ve had reading a book. And if Highfire is any indication of Eoin Colfer’s brilliant wit, I’m sorely upset that I didn’t read the Artemis Fowl books growing up.

Before I go any further, let me preface this review by warning you that if you find yourself easily offended by mounds of profanity, over-the-top gore and violence, vulgar sexual innuendo, and gross bodily functions–put this book down, it isn’t for you. It’s for the rest of us heathens to enjoy (and cackle at).

Bizarre and wildly entertaining and so hilarious that I was actually laughing out loud while reading in public, Highfire also managed to be a touching read in the end. Full of characters I loved to love (and one in particular I loved to hate), I was legitimately sad to reach the end. The relationship between Vern and Squib was so strangely heartwarming that I find myself unable to let go of this story just yet.

If you are looking for a story to take you on a hell of a ride, buckle up, settle in, and prepare to get weird–this book is for you. Like Trailer Park Boys, but in the Louisiana bayou, with a dragon…I could not recommend this more. It’s early to say this, but this will be one of my favorite books of 2020, guaranteed.

Shadow of Night (All Souls Series #2) by Deborah Harkness

Shadow of Night (All Souls Series #2) by Deborah Harkness
Publisher/Year: Penguin Books, 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 581
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Goodreads

Summary

A Discovery of Witches introduced Diana Bishop, Oxford scholar and reluctant witch, and vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont. Drawn to each other despite long-standing taboos, these two other-worldly beings found themselves at the center of a battle for a lost, enchanted manuscript known as Ashmole 782.

Book two of the All Souls trilogy plunges Diana and Matthew into Elizabethan London, a world of spies and subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the mysterious School of Night. The pair’s mission is to find traces of Ashmole 782, but as the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them they embark on a very different–and vastly more dangerous–journey.

What I thought

This is definitely something unusual for me to say, but I think this is a case where I actually enjoyed the sequel much more than the first book. I mean, she only ate eggs and toast once, for starters–yes, I counted. But seriously, there was much more that I enjoyed about the story this time around. I won’t go into too much detail–I like to keep it kind of short and sweet when it comes to reviewing sequels. This time around, my only complaint seems to be one that I’ve had since starting this trilogy–I have a rough time jiving with Harkness’s writing style. There just seems to be this disjointedness to the plot where something would happen, and I’d skim back a page or two, convinced I had somehow missed something. Or I’d spend so much time trying to analyze some plot point for it to turn out to have absolutely no bearing on the story. Considering the writing style and my disconnect, I really think it’s just me or the timing of my read. Plenty of people love these books. And I really did love so much about this installment. I loved everything about their trip to Elizabethan London–from the various members of the School of Night to Diana’s witchy lessons to their detour to Sept Tours. Again, I’m being intentionally vague here. I will say that I’m actually quite sad that they had to go back to the present and leave this cast of characters behind. I’m definitely ready to dive into the next book after that absolutely abrupt cliffhanger at the end.

As a whole, I enjoyed Shadow of Night much more than I did A Discovery of Witches. In reading some reviews on here, it seems like this is a pretty polarizing set of books. And even though I enjoyed book #2 more than book #1, I still wouldn’t say I love these books, at least on this, my first read through. I’d say if these books sound like they’re up your alley, maybe borrow them from a friend or the library.

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Series #1) by Deborah Harkness

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Series #1) by Deborah Harkness
Publisher/Year: Penguin Books, 2011
Format: Paperback
Pages: 579
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Goodreads

Summary

Deep in the heart of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, Diana Bishop–a young scholar and the descendant of witches–unearths an enchanted alchemical manuscript. Wanting nothing to do with sorcery, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery has set a fantastical underworld stirring, and soon a horde of daemons, witches, and other creatures descends upon the library. Among them is the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire with a keen interest in the book. Equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense, A Discovery of Witches is a mesmerizing and addictive tale of passion and obsession that reveals the closely guarded secrets of an enchanted world.

What I thought

I had a major love-hate relationship with A Discovery of Witches. On one hand, I devoured this book and cannot wait to start Shadow of Night, and on the other hand, the few complaints that I had about this book drove me absolutely insane.

Let me begin with my grievances. I don’t want to give the wrong impression–I hate that I have any complaints at all because I wanted to love this book. And I think I would have if it hadn’t been for these few things. Diana was my biggest love-hate issue with this book. I loved that she was intelligent and independent and feisty and stubborn, but I seriously thought I was going to lose my mind if I had to read about her fainting or being carried around by Matthew or MAKING TOAST OR TEA one more time. First of all, why the damsel in distress thing? She was adamantly portrayed as anything BUT–so when she constantly fainted over everything, it was just too contradictory. And as a 5’7″ woman, I’m going to tell you right now, my 6′ husband cannot carry me around. It has nothing to do with my weight–I’m simply too tall to be carried around like a child. Also, I LOVE a lot of detail in a book, but for crying out loud, does Diana eat anything besides eggs and toast?! Onto Matthew–I think my problem with him was his over-the-top possessiveness and his tendency to boss Diana around without any explanation. Granted, I suppose this can be explained away by his “vampire nature.” But what it comes down to with the both of them is that I just like to see more growth from characters. I’m sincerely hoping that since this story was originally slated as a trilogy that it just comes down to this first book being more of an introductory setup. Fingers crossed for character growth in book #2!

The other issue I had, I’m a little less irked by, but I know that this is a make-or-break deal for other readers, so I have to bring it up. I was not a big fan of the insta-love…I feel like I HAVE to be missing something. Their relationship was sweet, but I missed the passion. When they first met, and even through their first few interactions, I couldn’t figure out whether they liked each other, and then, BOOM, next thing I know, it’s :::SPOILER::: “I love you” and now we’re married. Umm…what? And the whole not having sex thing was BONKERS to me. On some level, I “get” it, but I just think it felt like a gimmicky way to keep readers reading. :::END SPOILER:::

Now that I’m done bitching–it probably seems like I didn’t even like this book, but I really did enjoy it, and I’m truly looking forward to the next book, so let me spend some time describing what I loved about this read.

I loved that this book read like a blend of an adult Twilight, The Historian, and Outlander. Fans of any of those books will find plenty to love here. Deborah Harkness writes with such a rich attention to detail that I easily found myself wholly immersed every time I sat down to read. I love the feeling when I’m so into a book that when I put the book down, I have to almost step back into reality, and I felt that big time with A Discovery of Witches. I’m a fairly slow reader, but I had this feeling like I was devouring this book. I’d look up after 100 evocative detail but also to the fact that the world she built was just so damn fascinating. The way she told this story was utterly enthralling, simply put. The blend of vampires, witches, daemons, history, science, romance, alchemy, evolution, reproduction, magic, and time travel was incredible. I loved it! This first book was heavier on vampires and vampire lore, but I’m hoping that, given how this one ended and Diana’s next task, we’ll learn more about witches because their magic is seriously COOL. And can I just say I absolutely ADORED the Bishop house and Diana’s aunts? Another thing I appreciated about the world building was that Harkness’ love for this world she created was 100% evident, so I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing where she takes the story next.

So, as you can see, I had conflicting feelings about a few aspects of this book, but as a whole, I really, really enjoyed this read. I can already tell that this series is one that I’ll revisit every once in a while. I know I’ve gone on and on about the couple things that I had issues with, but I was able to look past them and completely immerse myself in this story. A Discovery of Witches ended on a MAJOR cliffhanger, so I’m very glad that I already have my hands on a copy of Shadow of Night! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for more about witches, more character growth, and more of this wonderful world Deborah Harkness created.

Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
Publisher/Year: Flatiron Books, 2019
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 480
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Goodreads

Summary

The mesmerizing adult debut from Leigh Bardugo, a tale of power, privilege, dark magic, and murder set among the Ivy League elite.

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug-dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. In fact, by age twenty, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most prestigious universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?

Still searching for answers, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. Their eight windowless “tombs” are the well-known haunts of the rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street’s biggest players. But their occult activities are more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living.

What I thought

Leigh Bardugo’s name is not unknown to me. Previous to this novel, she had taken the YA world by storm. Honestly, I have no idea why I hadn’t read any of her books before this other than my inherent aversion to hyped books (so hipster, I know). And although I was interested in Ninth House, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up now if it hadn’t been for B&N Book Club.

What the hell is wrong with me?!

Hyped books are usually hyped for a reason, and every. single. time. I get to them years too late and fall in love anyway. ::facepalm::

Anyway. On to the book.

I. LOVED. IT.

Talk about the perfect October read! It was dark and gritty and horrifying and spooky and kickass. And I felt like I should be reading this in my housecoat and slippers by the fire in my dark, wood-paneled library with a pipe and a glass of Scotch on ice.

I don’t even know what Scotch tastes like.

Needless to say, I fell in love with how atmospheric this story was. I’ve never been to Yale, but Leigh Bardugo took me there.

I fell in love with just about everything else in this novel, too. The secret societies and the different magic they used were SO COOL. Alex was an INCREDIBLE heroine. I was rooting for her from page one. She is strong, witty, wily, stubborn, flawed, and so damned smart. At times, I fist pumped for her, and at others, I just wanted to wrap her up in the tightest hug. And Darlington–don’t even get me started on him. How do I love him? Let me count the ways. The banter between the two of them killed me. Other characters I adored included Dawes, Turner, and of course, Lethe House. I mean, I NEED that library!

Leigh Bardugo has expertly combined multiple elements to create one hell of a book. And while there are many moments that are difficult to read, I also appreciated what she was trying to say about many modern issues. And that “just about everything” I mentioned earlier? The ONLY downfall to loving this book so hard is that with that ending, I have ZERO IDEA what I’m supposed to do with myself until Book #2 arrives.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Publisher/Year: Orbit, 2019
Format: E-galley (Kindle)
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Goodreads

Summary

Every story opens a door…

In a sprawling mansion filled with exotic treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

But her quiet existence is shattered when she stumbles across a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. As each page reveals more impossible truths about the world, January discovers a story that might just be the key to unlocking the secrets of her past.

What I thought

Thank you to NetGalley & Orbit/Red Hook Books for the free e-galley of this book! This does not affect my opinion presented here in this review.

If you have ever searched the back of your closet to try to find your way to Narnia, or if you’ve ever found yourself leaning on the wall at the train station in a last ditch effort to make it to Hogwarts–THIS IS A BOOK YOU NEED TO READ. I could go on and on about how much I loved this book, but, simply put, my writing isn’t the writing you’re going to fall in love with–Harrow’s is. It’s eloquent and breathtaking and will leave you in awe as to how she so perfectly describes the smallest detail. This is the book for lovers of books, lovers of books-within-books, lovers of language and words, lovers of strong, relatable, imperfect characters, lovers of fiercely loyal dogs, lovers of true love, lovers of adventure, and lovers of the type of wanderlust that keeps you incessantly searching for the next doorway to change. Honestly, this is one of those rare few cases when you absolutely should judge a book by its cover because this book is just as (if not more so) beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside. Take my word for it and indulge your fairytale-loving, adventure-seeking inner child–read this book!

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black
Publisher/Year: Little, Brown and Company, 2018
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 370
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Goodreads

Summary

Guard your mortal heart.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black comes the first book in a stunning new trilogy filled with twists and enchantment, as one girl learns the meaning of true power when she finds herself caught in a web of royal faerie intrigue.

What I thought

You know what one of the best feelings in the world is? The feeling when you love a book so much that you can’t even put into words why you loved it so much. For me, this book was pure perfection. If you had asked me to describe my ideal book, it would be this one. I knew from the moment I held this book in my hands that I was getting ready to fall in love.

Holly Black has managed to write a story that feels like I’ve opened up an old book of fairy tales and stepped inside. The writing is luscious and gorgeous and intoxicating. I absolutely hated to put this book down. I wrote down at least 20 quotes–I just couldn’t get over how stunning Holly Black’s writing is. Upon finishing this book, I could have flipped to the front and read it all over again–that’s how much I loved it.

Not only that, but this book was also the perfect amount of “dark” to be a true fantasy story of the Fae. The deception and the trickery and the cruelty felt less Disney and more Grimm–and I lived for it! All of the characters were perfectly complex and untrustworthy, which was so great because it led to so many plot twists that I never saw coming.

At this point, I’m just gushing. Suffice it to say that The Cruel Prince will be one of my top reads for the year. If you love fantasy and the Fae and dark, twisted fairy tales–read this book!

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3) by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3) by J. K. Rowling
Publisher/Year: Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 435
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Goodreads

Summary

For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort.

Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter’s defeat of You-Know-Who was Black’s downfall as well. And the Azkaban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, “He’s at Hogwarts…he’s at Hogwarts.”

Harry Potter isn’t safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may well be a traitor in their midst.

What I thought

I honestly think that this will always be my favorite book of the series. There’s too much that I love about this one for it to be otherwise. I loved the first two books enough as it was, but it was really with PoA that my love for the series turned to obsession. The writing in this one takes on a different tone–less childish, if you will. But even that goes to show Rowling’s brilliance because the tone of her writing changes along with her characters as they grow in age. I digress.

One of the things I love the most about PoA is the character development of the trio. They aren’t just a Scooby Doo-esque group of friends who always get the bad guy in the end. They, too, are flawed and face things like fear, stress, anger, betrayal, and disappointment.

Of course, I also love the introduction of two of my favorite characters (Remus and Sirius), which brings me to another point. Something I’m noticing during this re-read in particular is that this movie is the first that really starts to leave things out from the books (at least in my opinion). Remus, Sirius, Crookshanks, Hogsmeade, Snape, Buckbeak, the Marauders, the Time-Turner–literally all of my favorite parts of this story have so much extra depth to them in the book.

I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that my copy of PoA is the most battered out of the rest of the books. It’s just my favorite, without a doubt. I love it dearly!

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2) by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2) by J. K. Rowling
Publisher/Year: Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic Press, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 341
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Goodreads

Summary

The Dursleys were so mean and hideous that summer that all Harry Potter wanted to do was to get back to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockhart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone–or something–starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects…Harry Potter himself?

What I thought

Y’know, my instinct about Chamber of Secrets has always been to say that this is my least favorite of the Harry Potter books. And truth be told, it is. I still love it though. I will always have love for any foray into the wizarding world. I can’t speak for anyone else, but after this re-read, I have to say that I don’t think I give CoS enough credit, and here’s why. Now having read the series and having watched the movies, I can see that this little installment is pivotal for the rest of the series.

As I’ve said, I will forever love anything J. K. Rowling writes, and CoS is just as near and dear to me as the other books. But even I will admit, the reintroduction of everything in the first few chapters makes the beginning a little slow going. Other than that though, there is so much to unpack in this one, and it really does develop our story in such a necessary way. First and foremost is the development of the trio’s friendship, as not only do they head on another adventure together at Hogwarts, but also as Harry is welcomed further into the Weasley family with his visit to the Burrow. Additionally, the plot takes a darker turn in CoS as the reader is introduced to magical racial tensions for the first time (full bloods, half bloods, “mudbloods,” squibs), which ultimately is a very important aspect of the series’ overarching plot. On a more positive note, it’s with CoS that we are first introduced to Dobby’s angel self and his unconditional loyalty. And who can forget the first horcrux? But we’ll get into that another day.

Anyway, what I’m getting at is that although this is my least favorite of the Harry Potter books, I still love it and find it immensely important for the sake of the series. I always have a genuinely great time reading these books. And it still stands out as an exemplary addition to the fantasy genre. Regardless of what anyone might say, this is and will always be a 5-star read for me! On to book #3!