Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the most infuriating, annoying and difficult book in the series so far … and that seems to be the point. It is positively brimming with unsavoury characters, obstacles and situations that continue to highlight the truly saddening like Harry has had to live.
If you thought Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fore was a tall tale, Order of the Phoenix puts it to shame. This fifth adventure is a long and difficult affair to spend hours and hours of your imagination with but, as mentioned, that is precisely the point. There was a moment, towards the first third of the book, when I asked myself: where is this going? The answer? Nowhere. And that’s completely fine.
Because in going nowhere we come face to face with the exasperatingly horrendous organisation that is the Ministry of Magic. The point of Order of the Phoenix is to flip everything on its head, to make us feel like Harry and to make us see the seedy underbelly of the Wizarding World. That soulful giddy aura the first book so exuberantly displayed is seized and replaced by a twitchy and niggling tale that, for all intents and purposes, makes you hate being in Wizarding company.
J.K. Rowling expertly takes the love and affinity we readers have for the Wizarding World and pushes it to one side before, grinningly, inviting in the filth. Cornelius Fudge transforms from his usual Santa Claus like existence into a ball of pity and slime. Draco Malfoy continues to be a snivelling brat but the dial has been turned all the way up. But the star, the villain, of the entire show is Delores Umbridge.
My hand is tensing even as I think of her wide frog eyed smile and her calm and piercing cough because Dolores Umbridge is the best villain in Harry Potter to date. And yes, that includes Lord Voldemort. Until now Voldemort as operated out of grasp. When he has appeared it has always been in a more moustache twirling and nefarious demeanour. Umbridge, however, has operated intimately and personally and with the utmost evil intentions. Umbridge is a terrific wicked villain and she, above anyone else, makes this adventure worthwhile.
But make no mistake, Order of the Phoenix offers so much more than just Umbridge. It is emotionally tugging in moments stolen by Sirius and Harry, it is hilariously off beat via the Weasleys, it is pubescent and angsty but not overwhelming, it is a tempered affair that continues to build the world and it is a satisfying narrative.
Score: ★★★ ½