This book is interesting to me because it feels like a departure from the previous two installments in terms of maturity, which itself is a meta fascination to me. It’s as if Rowling matured each new installment along with her readers. This book is much, much darker than the previous two, although of course, the previous two will still pretty dark. I mean, after all, the premise of the novel is that a Hitler-like wizard ruled the wizarding world, but then met his demise when he tried to kill our protagonist (Harry Potter) and in the process, killed Harry’s parents. Then in the first and second books, respectively, Voldemort tries to kill Harry again in two different ways.
But, this book in particular feels darker because its premise is that Sirius Black, a brutal mass murderer escaped from the wizarding prison, Azkaban, and is on the prowl for Harry Potter. In figuring out who Black is, we learn that he was the one that sold out Harry’s parents to Voldemort, so Voldemort could kill them (or at least, that’s what we suspect). Meanwhile, the guards of Azkaban, known as Dementors, are some of the foulest creatures in the entire wizarding world. Quite literally, they exist to suck out the happiness of human beings. And they have the Dementor’s Kiss, which is when they suck your soul out of your body. You’re still alive technically, but you have no soul and it’s a fate considered worse than death. This is what that Kiss looked like in one of the films:
Harry has to figure out how to defeat these bastards because when they come at him, he hears his mother’s dying last words, as she tried to protect him. It’s chilling. It gives me chills just to write about it.
But it’s also an interesting book because it doesn’t directly deal with Voldemort. Voldemort in this one isn’t trying to kill Harry and he mostly exists at the margins of this plot. The plot is mostly about Harry learning that Sirius is his Godfather and that, actually, Ron’s stupid rat Scabbers, was actually an Animagus, meaning a wizard that can shape shift into an animal. In this case, it was Peter Pettigrew, aka, Wormtail, aka, the one that actually sold Harry’s parents out to Voldemort.
In any case, it’s great that Harry finally has a father figure back around, even if he’s thought to be a mass murderer by the rest of the wizarding world and it’s troublesome trying to contact him via owl post.
Also, can I just say, Hermione is often treated like crap by Harry and Ron, especially? I know it’s because Ron, as we’ll later find out, likes Hermione in the more-than-a-friend way, but it’s frustrating to see them fight with her. I know they’re only, in this book at least, 13, but without Hermione, these two would be clueless. Harry has bravery in spades, but without Hermione’s brain…
We also get introduced to one of my favorite characters, Remus Lupin, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor (and like the others, is only there for this year; it’s cursed) and in actuality, a werewolf. He was friends with Harry’s dad, James, and makes for a sensitive, raggedy type character.
As always, I like to end with some good quotes…
For once, I have one that doesn’t come from Dumbledore. It’s the phrase one utters when trying to reveal the Marauder’s Map, a map that reveals everything and everyone inside Hogwarts:
“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.”
If the Harry Potter character and series more broadly had a catchphrase, I think it’d be that.
“You think the dead we loved truly ever leave us? You think that we don’t recall them more clearly in times of great trouble?” – Dumbledore
“I want to commit the murder I was imprisoned for.” – Sirius Black
And this whole exchange always gives me chills. Just gave me chills again as I copied and pasted it…
“What was there to be gained by fighting the most evil wizard who has ever existed?” said Black, with a terrible fury in his face. “Only innocent lives, Peter!”
“You don’t understand!” whined Pettigrew. “He would have killed me, Sirius!”
“THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED!” roared Black. “DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!”
“If you made a better rat than a human, it’s not much to boast about, Peter.” – I believe Lupin said this or maybe Sirius
“The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.” – Dumbledore
“What you fear most of all is —fear. Very wise…” – Lupin