Completed 5/29/2015, Reviewed 5/30/2015
Azkaban is such a relief after the disappointment of Chamber of Secrets. It’s darker, adds depth to the overarching plot of the septology and characters, and has more complex subplots. The book begins with the convicted mass murderer, Sirius Black, escaping from the prison Azkaban. The magical community is terrified; they even let the news leak to Muggles, though of course not saying that Black is a wizard. Back at the house of his vicious relatives, Harry has an illegal magical blow up and runs away a few weeks before school starts. Unexpectedly, he’s welcomed by the Minister for Magic to stay in Diagon Alley. Once school starts, the whole school is on alert for Black and Harry finds his past and present is tied to this crazed killer. It’s a terrific story, and the book that propels the series into a more mature place.
The characters begin to get more rounded out in this book. Harry, Hermione, and Ron all act a little more like young adults than children. They have deeper hurts, fears, and joys. Hermione steps out of her goody-goody role to yell back at a professor. Ron, who has never been a stand-out student, puts his nose to the grindstone to help Hagrid defend his soon to be executed hippogriff. Harry stands up for himself against his adoptive family and begins to grow into himself as he discovers his past and fights for his future. Even the faculty begins to get emotional depth and back story, particularly Snape, whose single dimensionality gets back story and motivation.
Rowling introduces two new faculty members. Professor Trelawney is this book’s comic relief, though has an interesting part in the dramatic events. Professor Lupin, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, is the first faculty member to spend time mentoring Harry. The scenes between the two are quite powerful; being the first time an adult spends quality time helping Harry directly.
My favorite part of this book is the relationship of Sirius Black to Harry. I can’t discuss it here because it would be a spoiler. I’ll wait until the next review to discuss it. But through Black, we start to see more into the lives of Harry’s parents and their friends. It’s part of what helps Harry begin to grow out of his broody demeanor.
In fact it’s hard to go on too much about my favorite parts of the book because they are all at the exciting conclusion. Suffice it to say that even though I may give other Potter books five stars, this one holds quite a special place for me, perhaps being my favorite of them all. I’ll let you know if this changes as I continue through the rest of the series. So yes, five stars out of five.