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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

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So it has come to this. After ten years and seven novels the magical saga of Harry Potter has finally reached its conclusion. The countdowns are over, the hype begins to subside, and the biggest question surrounding J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (besides whether Severus Snape is indeed friend or foe) can be answered – was it a worthwhile journey?

In a word, yes. Over the course of 759 pages (in my edition), Rowling provides answers to all the series' major questions, and delivers a finale that is both wholly satisfying and gripping.  As much as the last two entries of the saga (Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince) were heavy on exposition and setup, so is Deathly Hallows action-packed.

The sense of dread that Rowling gradually built up in the previous two books is unrelenting throughout this one.  Despite the best intentions and interventions of Harry Potter's friends and protectors, Lord Voldemort's return to power means that there is no safe place for Harry and so he must cut ties with the only two homes he has ever known (number Four Privet Drive and Hogwarts).

Harry's final departure from the Dursley household sets the stage for the first of many brilliantly executed action scenes in Deathly Hallows.  As if to underscore the peril that all who oppose Voldemort by helping Harry face, Rowling wastes no time in killing off some major characters.  To be sure, the body count throughout this book is rather high.

Most of the story revolves around Harry's quest to locate a group of remaining Horcruxes (receptacles for pieces of Voldemort's soul) and vanquish the Dark Lord for good.  Ron and Hermione join Harry and the trio make good on their vow not to return to Hogwarts for their seventh and final year.  Along the way, the titular Deathly Hallows are introduced and become the focus of a simultaneous quest.

As their search continues, each of the three friends wrestles with doubt and with their isolation from family and friends.  While this adventure resembles earlier ones on the surface, it is different in that the stakes are higher than ever and their success never seems assured.

Throughout the novel, Rowling seems more in command of her craft than ever.  While she has certainly proven her skill at crafting a world of wonder and whimsy, Deathly Hallows reveals her abundant talent at suspense.  Enemies pop up where you least expect them, and the motivations and backgrounds of previously unassailable characters are suddenly called into question.

As the final third of the book gets underway, however, we are still no closer to finally discovering the true allegiance of Severus Snape (who is left out of most of the story), and the inevitable Harry/Voldemort showdown has not taken place. When Harry and his friends finally return to Hogwarts for the final showdown between good and evil, though, the final pieces of the puzzle start falling into place.  

Without addressing (spoiling) the specifics of the final chapters of Deathly Hallows, I will say that Rowling has handsomely rewarded careful readers of the Harry Potter series.   Events and revelations that seem surprising at first are actually inevitable given the many clues placed throughout previous novels, and are the logical result of her careful planning throughout them. Even in a world of fictional wizards a certain level of credibility is important and Rowling does not stretch it.

Rich action sequences aside, Deathly Hallows packs an emotional wallop as well. It may not be possible to feel sad for every character who dies in the book, but chances are you'll find yourself reaching for the Kleenex at least once or twice.  But it is during the especially poignant passages (chapters 33 and 34) where Harry not only learns his true destiny but accepts it that the real impact of the entire saga is brought to bear.

After concluding the last chapter of Deathly Hallows, it is easy to sympathize with J. K. Rowling's feeling of loss now that the story of Harry Potter is over. Despite the unfortunately tacked-on epilogue (or in spite of it), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows stands as a worthy coda to what will prove to be one of the most enduring literary creations ever.  A worthwhile journey indeed.

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About Chris Holmes

  • Pedro Morgado

    Please, don’t let J. K. Rowling kill Harry Potter.

  • Hilary

    well said. you basically picked apart exactly what i was thinking as i read this and as i turned the last page over.

  • lauren shannon

    I loved the epilogue. I thought it was a lovely final gift that Rowling gave to her fans. It was nice. And gave a feeling that life can finally be good for our large hearted hero. The reviews I have read so far indicate that many critics hated it and most fans love it.- So I really feel like it was a gift for the fans.

  • Chris Holmes

    Oh, I recognize that it was purely for the fans. If she had to go the epilogue route, though, I think it would’ve been better to provide updates on more characters. Sort of how they do at the end of some movies.

  • Katherine M.

    This book was awsome !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • susie

    i thought the book was great. it really gives all the answers we’ve had from book one. its like closure finally. who cares about the critics the book was for the fans. it was awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • angie

    i absolutely loved the final book of harry potter and the deathly hallows .i thought the end was going to be for the worst for my favorite character but of course love won in the end . im sad that was the end of the magical hogwarts and harry potter saga

  • Luna

    Most fans I’ve seen irl and online hated the epilogue

  • anonymous

    Yes, I too hated the epilogue. It just really gave the story a sense of ending. I mean, it didn’t leave me satisfied. I suppose it just shows you what a happy ending the story had.