by J.K. Rowling
This is the 5th book in this series. The start of this novel starts as usual. It begins with Harry at his relatives’ house in Privet Drive. Harry knowing that Voldemort is back has been coming up with creative ways in which to listen to the news reports on tv as his aunt and uncle won’t let him watch tv with them. Harry knows that once Voldemort is back in the opening, there will be disappearances and strange deaths. Harry is suffering from the death of his classmate Cedric; he has nightmares about Voldemort’s return every day. In addition he has been out of real contact with Ron, Hermione, and even Sirius. As a result he is dealing with this grieving period alone. To siphon his anger and fustration, he has been tormenting his bullying cousin Dudley.
As you can imagine Harry’s muggle life and magical life are headed for a collision. One night while Harry and Dudley are walking home the summers night becomes unusually cold and black. Harry starts reliving his parents death and realizes that it is a Dementor attack. Harry summons his Patronus and chases the Dementors away from his cousin before the Dementor can perform its Final Kiss.
A Dementor’s Kiss is when the Dementor sucks out its victims soul through its mouth. The victim does not dies as long as the heart and lungs still work. They just merely exist.
Harry actions draw the attention of Mrs. Figg whom Harry thinks is a batty old neighbor. What he doesn’t realize is that Mrs. Figg is a Squib or a non-magical person born to magical parents. Mrs. Figg has been keeping an eye on Harry for all the years he has lived with his aunt and uncle. Mrs. Figg reveals that Dumbledore has had Harry being watch ever since he left school for the summer and that the fact that Harry used magic even in a dire circumstance is going to be a real problem.
Generally students are not allowed to use magic outside of school. However if the wizard’s life or life of surrounding muggles are in danger then it is permitted.
The person who was supposed to be guarding is Mundungus Fletcher, a minor criminal. Mundungus left Harry unattended to get some cauldrons that “fell off the back of a broom.” Mrs. Figg makes sure Harry gets home and warns him not to leave the house. Well once Harry gets home he actually tells his aunt and uncle about the Dementors and Voldemort only to find out that Aunt Petunia has more knowledge about the wizarding world that she has let on. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Magic sends him owls telling he is expelled and Sirius and Mr. Weasley warn him not to leave the house. All of this is too much for Uncle Vernon who decides to kick Harry out. Before Harry can leave the house a Howler comes for– Aunt Petunia. The letter states REMEMBER MY LAST, PETUNIA.
A Howler is a magical letter that amplifies the senders voice 100x. It’s usually used by parents to tell their children off while they are away at school.
Petunia sends Harry to his room and makes him stay there.
A few days later while the Dursleys are out, Harry hears intruders enter the house. As it turns out the intruders are members of the Order of the Phoenix led by Remus Lupin and the Real Mad-Eye Moody who have come to take Harry to the Order’s headquarters at 12 Grimuald Place. Grimuald Place is Sirius’ childhood home. Ron, Hermione, the Weasley family and others are already there waiting for him. Harry finds out how much the wizarding world has changed in those few short weeks he left Hogwarts.
Cornelius Fudge, jealous of Dumbledore, has decided to discredit him and Harry regarding Voldemort’s return. As a result the wizarding world is unaware that Voldemort is back. Fudge has also been strong arming everyone into ignoring Dumbledore and Harry as well by leaning on the newpapers to print what he wants them to print. This caused a rift between the Weasley family and their son Percy. As a result Percy has moved out and will not acknowledge his family even though both Percy and Mr. Weasley work for the Ministry of Magic. The Order feels that Fudge is going to use the hearing examining Harry’s use of magic to publically crucify him as a way of making his point.
What’s most interesting about this book is that this is were you see the arc between this book and book 3 where Sirius was introduced. What we learn about Sirius is as follows. Sirius was born into a pureblood family; he had one brother named Regulus who bought into the pureblood mania. When Sirius was 16 he ran away from home and stayed with James Potter’s family. Eventually Sirius’ uncle Alphard died and left him a fortune that allowed him to be independent. Regulus actually joined the Death Eaters; however once he realized what Voldemort was expecting them to do he got scared and tried to back out but was killed. Sirius hated his home and being in Grimuald Place reminds him of everything he disliked.
The Order of the Phoenix was a group started by Dumbledore the first time Voldemort came to power. However many of the first group were killed off. Apparently there were 20 Death Eaters for each member of the Order. Two people who were killed off were Gidgeon and Fabian Prewett who the author reveals on her website were Molly Weasley’s brothers. The Order has picked up some new members and is more prepared this time around.
Harry attends the hearing despite Fudge’s shenanigans in changing the time and venue. Dumbeldore shows up with Mrs. Figg whose testimony is invaluable in showing that Harry used magic because his and his cousin’s lives were in danger. Harry is cleared of the charges. However, it is clear from the hearing that Fudge does not like the fact that the Ministry does not have any say in how Dumbledore runs Hogwarts. It seems that Fudge intends to change this.
The rest of Harry’s holiday goes more smoothly as he knows he has been show to be innocent. But he keeps having these odd dreams about a walking down a corridor. Well the summer ends and Harry, Ron, and Hermione are ready to head back to school. Ron and Hermione are made prefects for Gryffindor House. Day one at Hogwarts we see that Harry is going to have a rough year. Since everyone else at school has been hearing how crazy Harry and Dumbledore are all summer, people are leary of him. Then we find out that Fudge has placed his spy at Hogwarts in the form of Jane Umbridge the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher who is determined not to teach the students practical defense to prevent the students from becoming an army with Dumbledore at its head. In order to learn to defend themselves properly Harry, Ron, Hermione, and 25 other students form the D.A. which stands for Dumbledore’s Army to practice defensive spells with Harry as the teacher. Things are going well till Christmas when Harry has a dream in which Mr. Weasley is attached by a giant snake. It wasn’t a dream at all rather a vision of what was actually happening. As a result of this Dumbledore has Harry study Occlumency which protects against external penetration into another’s mind. Of course Snape would have to teach Harry. Due to their mutual animosity, Harry doesn’t progress very far.
The year progresses, Harry takes his O.W.L.s which stands for Ordinary Wizard Levels. He wants to be an Auror once he leaves Hogwarts. Finally Harry and company prove conclusively to the wizarding world that Voldemort is back. But it comes at a very high price- grevious injuries and the death of someone Harry loves. We also see Dumbledore and Voldemort duel. It’s amazing Dumbledore is 155 and Voldemort is like 66 and Voldemort still can’t take Dumbledore! Oh! wizards have a much long life span than Muggles. Voldemort leaves the scene whipped. But we note that Dumbledore does not try to kill Voldemort although Voldemort is desperately trying to kill Dumbledore.
In the post adventure chat…..
We finally find out why Voldemort tried to kill Harry as a baby. There was a prophecy told by none other than Professor Trelawney.
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…
One of Voldemort’s spies only overheard the first part of the prophecy telling that the child would be born in July to parents who thrice defied Voldemort. There were two boys that the prophecy could have applied to: Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom. Both Potters and Longbottoms were in the Order of the Phoenix. Voldemort chose Harry because he thought that Harry was most like him i.e. they were both half-bloods. The scar that Harry has is the way that Voldemort marked him as his equal. He also gave Harry powers- parseltongue and the ability to access Voldemort’s thoughts which is why Harry can feel powerful emotions from Voldemort and share visions. But in the end Harry must kill Voldemort or be killed.
We also find out why Dumbledore sent Harry to his relatives. Although Voldemort had been defeated, Dumbledore knew that the Death Eaters were almost as dangerous as Voldemort and that Harry was still in danger. Dumbledore knew that if Voldemort ever regained his body even some of the most complex protection spells wouldn’t have protected Harry. So Dumbledore invoke and ancient protective spell using love. By sacrificing herself, Lily had given Harry the strongest protection possible. That protection lived on in her blood which Harry shares with Petunia as Lily’s sister. Dumbledore wrote Petunia a letter telling her about the charm he place on Harry. Once Petunia accepted Harry that charm became the strongest protection in the world. While Harry can call his relatives place “home” Voldemort cannot touch him there. Petunia knew that by taking Harry in she was saving his life. Dumbledore sent Petunia that Howler because he felt that the Dementor attack may make her regret having Harry as a surrogate son.
**********************END OF SPOILERS********************
Well this book was satisfying. Finally questions were being answered. This book was massive but I loved every page of all 896 pages of it!!!! This was the first book that I went to a book release party for. It was wild. I thought my parents were going to commit me. The night the book was released there was a thunderstorm. Did I mention it was a midnight release. Here were my remaining questions
1. If Voldemort had chosen Neville, would Neville be the orphan with the scar? Dumbledore seems to indicate that this would not have happened.
2. We find out from the author in an interview that Voldemort gave Lily the choice to live and she chose to die. This sacrifce protected Harry. Seeing how blood thirsty Voldemort is, why did he give Lily the choice to live?
3. Would Voldemort have given Neville’s mother the choice to live?
4. Who overheard part of the prophecy?
5. Dumbledore says that Harry’s greatest power against Voldemort is love, how is this going to be used to defeat Voldemort?
6. How did the Potters and Longbottoms thrice defy Voldemort?
7. We know that the Death Eater were responsible for kill many people during Voldemort’s heyday. How on earth did those six teenagers take on a bunch of Death Eaters and live to tell the tale? Granted the Order of the Phoenix showed up, but really those kids shouldn’t have lasted more than a few minutes.
8. In the book we frequently see Harry and Uncle Vernon interacting rarely Petunia. Why is it that Petunia really isn’t the one being mean to Harry?
9. Is Petunia’s fear of the wizarding world because she thinks they are freaks or does she understand the danger all too well?
10. What else does Aunt Petunia know?
11. Was Aunt Petunia’s actions in trying to “beat the magic” out of Harry, her misguided way of trying to protect him from his destiny?
12. Is there a small part of her that does love Harry as her nephew and is just scared because she knows his destiny is to save the world?
Format: Paperback, 896pp
Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.