Executive Times






2007 Book Reviews


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling








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The Harry Potter story is finished. There’s even an epilogue in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, so can reasonably expect this to be the last book of the series. It’s neither the best nor the worst. Set for the most part outside Hogwarts, there isn’t the same atmosphere as in the earlier books. It’s a darker story. If you’ve come this far, you might as well finish up by reading Deathly Hallows. I assume that by the time the movie comes out, the 400 or so superfluous pages of the book won’t be filmed, and the end result will be an improved story, but don’t say that to anyone under age 12. Here’s an excerpt, from the beginning of Chapter 3, “The Dursleys Departing,” pp. 30-33:


The sound of the front door slamming echoed up the stairs and a voice yelled, “Oi! You!”

Sixteen years of being addressed thus left Harry in no doubt whom his uncle was calling; nevertheless, he did not immediately respond. He was still gazing at the mirror fragment in which, for a split second, he had thought he saw Dumbledore’s eye. It was not until his uncle bellowed, “BOY!” that Harry got slowly to his feet and headed for the bedroom door, pausing to add the piece of broken mirror to the rucksack filled with things he would be taking with him.

“You took your time!” roared Vernon Dursley when Harry ap­peared at the top of the stairs. “Get down here, I want a word!”

Harry strolled downstairs, his hands deep in his jeans pockets. When he reached the living room he found all three Dursleys. They were dressed for traveling: Uncle Vernon in a fawn zip-up jacket, Aunt Petunia in a neat salmon-colored coat, and Dudley, Harry’s large, blond, muscular cousin, in his leather jacket.

“Yes?” asked Harry.

“Sit down!” said Uncle Vernon. Harry raised his eyebrows. “Please!” added Uncle Vernon, wincing slightly as though the word was sharp in his throat.

Harry sat. He thought he knew what was coming. His uncle began to pace up and down, Aunt Petunia and Dudley following his movements with anxious expressions. Finally, his large purple face crumpled with concentration, Uncle Vernon stopped in front of Harry and spoke.

“I’ve changed my mind,” he said.

“What a surprise,” said Harry.

“Don’t you take that tone began Aunt Petunia in a shrill voice, but Vernon Dursley waved her down.

“It’s all a lot of claptrap,” said Uncle Vernon, glaring at Harry with piggy little eyes. “I’ve decided I don’t believe a word of it. We’re staying put, we’re not going anywhere.”

Harry looked up at his uncle and felt a mixture of exasperation and amusement. Vernon Dursley had been changing his mind every twenty-four hours for the past four weeks, packing and unpacking and repacking the car with every change of heart. Harry’s favorite moment had been the one when Uncle Vernon, unaware that Dud­ley had added his dumbbells to his case since the last time it had been unpacked, had attempted to hoist it back into the boot and collapsed with roars of pain and much swearing.

“According to you,” Vernon Dursley said now, resuming his pac­ing up and down the living room, “we Petunia, Dudley, and Iare in danger. From from —“

“Some of ‘my lot,’ right,” said Harry.

“Well, I don’t believe it,” repeated Uncle Vernon, coming to a halt in front of Harry again. “I was awake half the night thinking it all over, and I believe it’s a plot to get the house.”

“The house?” repeated Harry. “What house?”

“This house!” shrieked Uncle Vernon, the vein in his forehead starting to pulse. “Our house! House prices are skyrocketing around here! You want us out of the way and then you’re going to do a bit of hocus-pocus and before we know it the deeds will be in your name and

“Are you out of your mind?” demanded Harry. “A plot to get this house? Are you actually as stupid as you look?”

“Don’t you dare !” squealed Aunt Petunia, but again, Vernon waved her down: Slights on his personal appearance were, it seemed, as nothing to the danger he had spotted.

“Just in case you’ve forgotten,” said Harry, “I’ve already got a house, my godfather left me one. So why would I want this one? All the happy memories?”

There was silence. Harry thought he had rather impressed his uncle with this argument.

“You claim,” said Uncle Vernon, starting to pace yet again, “that this Lord Thing —“

“— Voldemort,” said Harry impatiently, “and we’ve been through this about a hundred times already. This isn’t a claim, it’s fact, Dum­bledore told you last year, and Kingsley and Mr. Weasley —“

Vernon Dursley hunched his shoulders angrily, and Harry guessed that his uncle was attempting to ward off recollections of the unan­nounced visit, a few days into Harry’s summer holidays, of two fully grown wizards. The arrival on the doorstep of Kingsley Shacklebolt and Arthur Weasley had come as a most unpleasant shock to the Dursleys. Harry had to admit, however, that as Mr. Weasley had once demolished half of the living room, his reappearance could not have been expected to delight Uncle Vernon.

“— Kingsley and Mr. Weasley explained it all as well,” Harry pressed on remorselessly. “Once I’m seventeen, the protective charm that keeps me safe will break, and that exposes you as well as me. The Order is sure Voldemort will target you, whether to torture you to try and find out where I am, or because he thinks by holding you hostage I’d come and try to rescue you.”

Uncle Vernon’s and Harry’s eyes met. Harry was sure that in that instant they were both wondering the same thing. Then Uncle Ver­non walked on and Harry resumed, “You’ve got to go into hiding and the Order wants to help. You’re being offered serious protection, the best there is.”

Uncle Vernon said nothing, but continued to pace up and down. Outside the sun hung low over the privet hedges. The next-door neighbor’s lawn mower stalled again.

“I thought there was a Ministry of Magic?” asked Vernon Durs­ley abruptly.

“There is,” said Harry, surprised.

“Well, then, why can’t they protect us? It seems to me that, as innocent victims, guilty of nothing more than harboring a marked man, we ought to qualify for government protection!”

Harry laughed; he could not help himself. It was so very typical of his uncle to put his hopes in the establishment, even within this world that he despised and mistrusted.

You heard what Mr. Weasley and Kingsley said,” Harry replied. We think the Ministry has been infiltrated.”


The Harry Potter series has been a cultural event, so reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows makes one part of the total global cultural experience. Or, you can wait for the movie.


Steve Hopkins, August 25, 2007



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