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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

For twelve long years, the dread fortress of Azkaban held an infamous prisoner named Sirius Black. Convicted of killing thirteen people with a single curse, he was said to be the heir apparent to the Dark Lord, Voldemort. Now he has escaped, leaving only two clues as to where he might be headed: Harry Potter's defeat of You-Know-Who was Black's downfall as well. And the Azkban guards heard Black muttering in his sleep, "He's at Hogwarts...he's at Hogwarts." Harry Potter isn't safe, not even within the walls of his magical school, surrounded by his friends. Because on top of it all, there may well be a traitor in their midst.…

Overall Book Review:

J. K. Rowling has a few trademark moves that she uses throughout all her books, and The Prisoner of Azkaban is no exception. Each of these trademarks are perfectly done, which just goes to show how talented she is.

Rowling’s first trademark move is to slip in funny little moments and comments throughout the book that endearingly portray human nature. For example, there is an ironic moment in this book where Hagrid is giving Ron and Harry some sage counsel:

“’Ah, well, people can be stupid abou’ their pets,’ said Hagrid wisely.” 

Every reader can see that Hagrid is accidentally and perfectly describing himself. And yet the hypocrisy in human nature is lovingly shown with humor instead of brutally revealed with cruelty. Rowling’s talent in writing this way is not just funny, it is admirable. If we could all think this way, we would dislike people and their quirks a lot less.

Rowling’s second trademark is to throw in tidbits and clues that relate to the books coming later in the series. For example, in the first Harry Potter book, Sirius Black is mentioned to have lent Hagrid his motorcycle. Throughout this third book, we learn that Sirius Black is more than just a vague character mentioned–he is pivotal. There is another character as well that was previously introduced as minor, and in this third book ends up carrying quite a different backstory than we all thought (but that one is a spoiler, so you will have to read the book to find out who). These are just simple examples, but there is really a web of clues hidden all over each book. I love Rowling’s mastery at hiding hints so that when we reread the series we catch new things every time.

The third trademark for J. K. Rowling would be the twist she always throws in at the end of her books. It is impossible to see them coming. Rowling puts in a bunch of false trails so that you think you know what is going on, but then shakes up everything you thought you knew in the final few chapters. You definitely saw that happen in the first two books of this series, but I will let you discover this third twist for yourself. Just know going in that it is awesome.

Even towards the beginning of Rowling’s career, she proved her skill and the complexity of her mind. Any author would be so lucky if they could echo any of these three trademarks quite to her level.

Also, as always, Harry Potter audiobooks are perfect in every way.

Review of audiobook edition

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  2 mild obscenities; 1 religious exclamation; 1 derogatory name.

Violence/Gore:  A man is described to have murdered 13 people and he is discussed several times throughout the book; several creepy scenes with frightening magical creatures; a large animal gives a student a bloody arm injury; a magical creature takes the form of several frightening things in succession; a student has problems with repeated memories of his parents being murdered  (frightening for him, but not gruesome); a student describes a frightening moment where it appeared a man was trying to murder someone; a student smacks another student in the face; there is discussion of a creature being beheaded, and students hear the beheading ax being swung; a student is attacked by a dog and breaks a leg; a man threatens to kill someone; an adult and three students get into a violent scuffle, with only bruises as a result; a scuffle breaks out between a couple of adults; there is discussion of past and future murders; a character threatens another character; two animals have a vicious fight; there is a frightening scene with a large, dangerous mythical creature; a frightening scene where young teenagers and an adult almost lose their souls to frightening creatures.

Sex/Nudity:  None

Mature Subject Matter:

Death of family members, betrayal of friends, guardians who dislike the young teen they care for, murder.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Adults drink alcohol.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I am devoted to stories. The guest bedroom at our house is themed “Harry Potter.” My dream job is to be a librarian or book editor. I even wanted to name our dog Ender or Julian Delphiki, but my husband put his foot down (which was probably a good idea).