July 7, 2000

Warning! - Deathly Hallows - Spoiler!

In Memoriam
A Review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Brought to you by The Lit Wit

‘Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much……’ I have been a Harry Potter fan ever since my mother sat down in our living room and read those words aloud from a cheap, paperback copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (which sits, battered and worn after being read so many times, on my shelf next its brothers and sisters, to this very day). Since those first words that began the biggest literary phenomenon in history, my journey with Harry Potter has played out, a roller coaster that has gone by in what feels like a fleeting blink of my eyes. It seems like yesterday that I was sitting down to read Harry Potter for the first time on my own, and, in terms of books, I have never read anything more wildly magical, entertaining, witty, beautifully dark, realistic and funny as Harry Potter. Through all of the good times spent with Harry, Ron and Hermione, I have long awaited their final installment. Even so, in all my visions and dreams of the day when I at last would behold the final secrets of Harry Potter, I had no idea what July 21st, 2007 would hold in store for me.

July 20th, 2007 dawned with a sense of destiny. I was at the beach, on the last day of a holiday that would end with me grasping the book of all books. I awoke sharply at six, unable to the sleep in like the rest of my family. The long hours that followed, passed with me trailing around, shouting at random “I AM SO EXCITED!” while butterflies to pounded ulcers in my stomach. Finally, after a five hour car ride back to Virginia from vacation, I was heading out to get the book! It was 10:45 p.m. when I arrived at my selected shop and stepped into the beginning of, what would swell to, a massive line of fans, all of whom were anxiously waiting to receive their copies of the latest, and last, Harry Potter book. An hour and fifteen minutes later, at the stroke of midnight, I was a very happy person, holding (more like clutching) my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and emerging from the shop, into what would prove to be one of the most memorable nights of my childhood. Looking down at my copy, I could not believe that a seven- year long journey was about to come to a close, that soon I would know everything I had dreamed of knowing for so many years. After a quick car ride home, all of which was spent reading the first two chapters, I was completely immersed. Soon it would all be over. Join me now for the tale of that fateful night- my reactions, and thoughts on all things Deathly Hallows- and a vivid review on the explosive Potter #7.

Sitting in the passenger’s seat of the family car, the novel open on my lap, my mini- book light casting a dim light over the pages, and then, thirty minutes later, sitting cozily in my bedroom, reading lamp on, I raced through the first five chapters. What a faced paced, attention grabbing beginning! Rowling wasted no time in getting down to business, which suited me just fine. It was time for answers, time to see who lived and who died. Right off the bat, we are bombarded with the Death Eater’s plot to seize Harry as he is moved from Privet Drive by the Order, and questions about our favorite deceased Headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore, whose questionable, possibly shady, past made my mouth water with intrigue. As Dudley delivers the flabbergasting line of ‘ “I don’t think you’re a waste of space” ’ (which I’m sure almost sent all of us bowling over with surprise), and we again sense that there is more to Aunt Petunia, the Dursley’s depart with an unceremonious, yet ominous sense of finality.

The suspense continues as Harry’s wand acts strangely in an airborne attack of the Death Eaters, as not one, but seven Potters and the Order flee Privet Drive. After a brief landing at Tonks’ parents and a quick journey to the Burrow, we are met with the news of two very sudden deaths. While Hedwig’s demise earned itself a gasp, the fatality of Mad Eye had a numb effect on me- I had not been expecting the deaths to start so early. The following passages at the Burrow, felt more like home to me, as apposed to the no nonsense tone of the first chapters, as they retained the light, and yet, as the trio make plans to set out on their own and hunt Horcruxes, foreboding tone of the previous books. I loved how Rowling continued to include Dumbledore. His will, and the items he left to the trio, were very cleverly distributed and I loved the extra little mystery. The brief kissing scene of Harry and Ginny made me want to dance and the preparations for Bill and Fleur's wedding were quite entertaining. But, just as the wedding bells had rung and I became thoroughly intrigued by Mr. Lovegood sporting Grindelwald’s sign, the homely comforts of the Burrow came to a shrieking halt.

‘“The Ministry has fallen. Scrimgeor is dead. They are coming.”’ These words rang out from Kingsley’s Patronus, in exactly the kind of abrupt jolt of action I had been waiting for to send the trio off on their own. With a sudden splurge of excitement, Death Eaters flood the wedding party, and Harry, Ron and Hermione flee the Burrow. After a near-fatal confrontation with two Death Eaters in a café (the taboo on Voldemort’s name was pure genius), the trio escapes to the shadowy parlors of one of my favorite settings throughout the series- Grimmauld Place. I loved reading scenes in Sirius’ childhood home in Order of the Phoenix and missed the its presence in Half Blood Prince, so getting a glimpse of the house again was a special treat for me. Again the dark allure of Grimmauld Place didn’t fail to disappoint me, as it was here in the seventh novel that Rowling finally gave up some answers!

At four in the morning, however, on July 21st, those answers would have to wait for me. Curled up in my bed with Deathly Hallows, my eyelids began to droop and every now and then I would swing into sleep for a few seconds, waking suddenly to hurriedly read the next few pages of a chapter, before falling into a lull again. As the trio arrived at Grimmauld Place, I decided to stop and sleep. Sitting my beloved book on my nightstand, I flipped the light out and immediately was out like the extinguished lamp beside me. My dreams were filled with the distant hoots of an owl, and bright coruscations of light spewing from a bespectacled boy’s wand. Four and a half hours later, I was up and immediately snatched my book off the nightstand.

For the next two hours I read a few chapters. The scenes at Grimmauld Place were very entertaining, and, as the trio wander around the house, discovering letters and photographs from and of Harry’s parents, old memories surface from the time that the house acted as headquarters for the Order. I really liked Harry’s strengthened power to see Voldemort’s actions- an ability that would prove useful to the plot and which I thought was a very witty way of keeping the reader informed as to the Dark Lord’s movements. The added mystery of Voldemort’s actions was well welcomed.

I didn’t have to wait long for my first batch of answers. Finally, as I had always suspected, Regulus Black emerges as the mysterious R.A.B. from the end of Half Blood Prince. I loved the back-story that Rowling included on Kreacher and Regulus- a back-story which really moralized the twisted house elf, whom I actually felt sorry for. This extensive history was just another example of how well planned out the series is, and just how meticulous Rowling can be! Again, Jo’s brilliancy is flaunted, when Harry remembers, from within the swirling depths of his mind, that, as anyone who had carefully read page 116 of Order of the Phoenix would already have guessed, there had been a locket found at Grimmauld Place during his fifth year Christmas holiday, which had been spent cleaning out the musty halls of the dark house. If I had not been so comfortable still lying in bed reading at ten in the morning, I would have done a jig. Slytherin’s locket, a Horcrux at last! With Kreacher hunting down the last known possessor of the locket, Mundungus Fletcher, things were beginning to get seriously well on track.

Little woman. Bow on top of er’ head.” He frowned and then added, “Looked like a toad.”’ News from Mundungus that Umbridge was now the possessor of the locket Horcrux had me rubbing my hands together sometime around ten thirty a.m.! Nothing could have given me more fiendish pleasure! As the only character in Harry Potter that I have ever wanted to reach through the pages and slap, I couldn’t wait for a scene with dear old Dolores.

After what I found to be quite an unnecessary quarrel with Remus Lupin, Harry, Ron and Hermione, discover a shocking headline, splashed across the Daily Prophet. Severus Snape Confirmed as Hogwarts Headmaster. I cried aloud, in perfect unison with the trio, in indignation and shock. Snape!?! Now, don’t get me wrong, I was forever one of the “Snape is a goody, not a baddy” shippers out in the world of Harry Potter fandom (you can imagine, if you have finished the seventh novel, how happy I was by the end of the book), but this choice surprised me. Possibly because the trio was far away from the school, and because Hogwarts had so far been absent from Deathly Hallows, I found the thought of life carrying on there, without Harry, Ron and Hermione, and especially under the headmastership of Snape, to be a very troubling thought. However, with the trio now plotting an attempt to retrieve the locket from Umbridge at the Ministry, I was soon distracted from Snape’s new position.

The excursion at the Ministry was highly enjoyable. After we had seen so much of the trio together in seclusion, it was a nice break to be able to catch a glimpse of the administration, and to be able to see just how corrupted Voldemort’s regime has made it. I was thoroughly disturbed and a bit angered (as I think was Rowling’s aim) at the undertones of a Muggle, and Muggle-born, type of genocide that was being advocated by the Dark Side. Rowling certainly achieved her goal of making evil seem very realistic by including themes like this in her books, and I found those themes to be particularly evident during the trio’s time at the Ministry. At any rate, I was leaping with joy inside, as Harry, Ron and Hermione, at long last, retrieve the locket Horcrux, fulfilling my thirst for their finding one! My joy however, would prove to be short-lived, as eleven o’clock drew near, and the novel spun off into the part of Book 7 which displeased me most.

After a short break for lunch, I plunged into Chapter 14, The Thief, where, after having to quickly take flight from the Ministry, Harry, Ron and Hermione camp out in a tent in the Forest of Dean and begin a sluggish stretch in the novel, most of which is spent with Ron and Hermione arguing over whose turn it is to do the cooking. For several chapters we hear no news of the outlying world and see little excitement (unless you count petty arguments and the trio taking turns at doing watch-duty as thrills). Still searching for the remaining bits of the Dark Lord’s shattered soul and means with which to destroy the one they already have, the trio is thrown into a bout of boredom and bickering.

‘“Ron, no- please- come back, come back!” ’ I, like Hermione, could not believe that Ron abandoned the trio. This is one of the only parts of Book 7 that I disagree with. Although only a temporary break in the usually strong relationship of the trio, I found Ron’s departure to be quite unnecessary and out of character, and was seriously perplexed as I read this. My vexation didn’t last for long though as, after a near deadly visit to Godric’s Hollow (which is one of the most beautifully written scenes in the book) Ron triumphantly returns in the nick of time to destroy, with the aid of a mysterious silver doe and the Sword of Gryffindor, the locket Horcrux! With the destruction of Slytherin’s locket and the prospect of things brightening in the trio’s relationship, I was buzzing with excitement and dying to get more answers. I wouldn’t have to wait long. As the trio bounded off to visit Xenophilius Lovegood, I sensed that something big was about to be revealed. I was right.

‘“Are you referring to the sign of the Deathly Hallows?”’ AT LAST!!! After I read this line at around two o’clock on the 21st (now perched in my desk chair, sun spilling in through the window) every fiber in my body tensed up. Finally I knew what the Deathly Hallows were! It could not have farther from my prediction (which had been that the Deathly Hallows referred the afterlife, where after both having to die, Harry and Voldemort would battle it out). The Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility-in other words, the Deathly Hallows which, when all possessed by one person who accepts their mortality, becomes the Master of Death. There is only one word to describe the Deathly Hallows, and that word is cool. What a creative, dark and unexpected twist!

Back in the tent after a close call at Mr. Lovegood’s, Harry, Ron and Hermione debate the significance of the Hallows. Harry is torn between seeking out all of the Hallows and becoming the Master of Death (which could guarantee victory against Voldemort), and hunting down the three remaining Horcruxes, as Dumbledore had instructed him to do. But Harry, Ron and Hermione are left with only few pages to reflect upon their new, deathly discovery. After an unexpected capture, the trio winds up at the Malfoy Manner. It is here that things finally began to wind down. I now knew that the journey was coming to a close and that thought overwhelmed me, sending my brain into fits of disbelief. As Hermione is tortured (a scene which thoroughly made me nervous, as Hermione is my favorite character) by Bellatrix Lestrange, we meet up again (though not in the happiest of circumstances) with Luna, Ollivander, Wormtail, and Dobby.

Now, it must be understood that I by no means a “crier”, but I must admit, as it would be unfair not to, that, after the trio Disaparate in the nick of time from Malfoy Manor with the Sword of Gryffindor, I did shed tears at the death of Dobby. Though I had never been overly fond of the helpful (yet sometimes hindering) house elf, I found the death of Dobby and the arrival at Shell Cottage to be a climax of the book, worth a few tear drops. It was as Harry buries Dobby that I truly realized the evil that the trio faced, truly understood and felt their hopelessness. The time that Harry, Ron and Hermione spent at Shell Cottage was like the wake before a disastrous storm. After suspicions that a Horcrux may be hidden in the Lestrange’s vault at Gringotts, and the birth of Teddy Lupin, Voldemort finally recovers the Elder Wand, from none other than its last master, Albus Dumbledore. I was beside myself with excitement as the final battle drew near, and a knot of nervousness twisted in my stomach, as the trio set out for Gringotts.

The adventure that followed is brilliantly heated (literally!), and is definitely one of my favorite scenes of the series. Fast paced and ringing with climax, the excursion at Gringotts was excellent, followed with a poignantly written dragon ride to the middle of nowhere. It was here that I felt most reminiscent about the series. As the trio joked for one last moment before the final battle that they knew must come, memories flashed through my head. I saw them standing on a giant chessboard, hovering over a simmering cauldron of Polyjuice Potion, bickering at the Yule Ball, back to back, surrounded by Death Eaters in the Department of Mysteries and talking next to a white tomb- together, united, always faithful to each other. The rest, the end to their incredible story, was a blur.

I have never been so excited. After sitting down to a rushed dinner, I barricaded my room, promising not to emerge until I had finished. The ending to the series was smashing. It was as if every character, every familiar face was back, as though for a big reunion at Hogwarts. And finally the long wait was over. Within an hour or two I was getting answers, which hit would hit me with huge jolts as they came.

Suddenly, it was as if I had turned a page and the battle was raging. Another page- the diadem and cup were destroyed. Then (to my immense delight) Ron and Hermione were kissing, in a moment we had all been waiting for. I flipped a page- Fred was dead. Then I was crying all over the place, not because of Fred, but because of the line that Hermione uttered on Page 640. ‘“We’re the only ones who can end it.” ’ And I, like the trio, finally realized this. It had to end. And then like a firework, Snape was innocent (and dreadfully dead), as I had always believed he would be. Dumbledore’s death had been planned. Snape loved Lily. I smiled. This was amazing! Everything I had dreamed of and more. But then-

It was like a God-forsaken explosion. The words swam through my head. Harry is a Horcrux. If I had been standing, I would have swayed. I had not been expecting this at all. For the first time, I was truly shocked, and for a moment, just a tiny inkling of a moment, I feared for Harry’s life. As Harry speaks to Neville, and sees Tonks and Lupin lying dead in the Great Hall, I felt like crying, but it was happening so fast that there wasn’t time. Chapter 34, The Forest Again, is my favorite chapter of the series, possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever read. As the ghosts of Lily, James, Sirius and Lupin accompany Harry into the Forest, to his death, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace.

‘“He saw the mouth move and a flash of green light, and everything was gone.” ’ Was it death? Was it a sort of half life that Harry experiences after this? No, we are between life and death- in a sort of limbo, which Harry dubs King Cross (a stunning metaphor), and where yet again, everything is being explained by Dumbledore. And then, after Harry chooses to go back, the battle rages on in the Wizarding World for one last time. Fate was present as I turned the pages. Boom- Nagini is dead, and there are no more Horcruxes.

And suddenly, it just happened- and as a sunrise blazed across the Great Hall and Voldemort’s Killing Curse again rebounded and the Boy Who Lived did just that, it was as if a sun had set inside of me. It was over. You may be expecting me to rattle on about my emotions at the end of the book, but I won’t even try. It would be humanly impossible to do justice to all that I was feeling, and besides I don’t think a word or any words have yet been invented by man that would adequately describe my emotions. As I read the epilogue, I was simply glad that the trio survived and that they were happy. And my final thought on the book- just one word, perfect. I gave a squeal of delight and disbelief and slid Deathly Hallows onto my top shelf. My set was complete- seven beautiful gems, all together, at last. Staring at the clock, I read 10:13. It had been less than twenty four hours since I had started reading. I grinned. A new record.

Well, now we know. The trio lives. Harry and Ginny marry and have children. Ron and Hermione do likewise. And me? How is my life “post Harry Potter”? The answer- nonexistent. There will never be a post Harry Potter era in my life- Harry Potter will reign eternally over my world of literature. Unlike most, I do not yearn for more Harry. I’m simply grateful that he ever existed.