People seem to believe that Harry Potter captured the hearts and minds of young adults around the world because one solitary thing: magic. These people, albeit completely misinformed, fail to see the true beauty of Harry Potter: an abundance of suspense and thrills … with the all-important emotion.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince should have been the calm before the almighty storm. But, J.K. Rowling’s vocabulary doesn’t subscribe to a cooler and softer climate. You can tell by the way she skips over mundane seasons, weeks and even months with a single stroke of her quill and never looks back. To Rowling, the story is always hurtling towards a conclusion and the enjoyment is in the journey itself, not the lulls.
What the Half-Blood Prince does so well is keep that journey and that battle consistently ebbing and flowing through the book whilst bringing the emotion to the fore. Harry is most malleable and tumultuous in this particular entry and you can feel his hormonal persona. It’s almost tangible.
The book throws up immense moments of intrigue and mystery, a staple in this particular series, and it’s better crafted than before. Whilst mysteries in the Goblet of Fire and felt clunky and often a little artificial, the clues Rowling lays in this instalment fit like circular bricks in round holes. She slots them into place rather than forcing them.
This is, of course, the book that changes the tone of the books instantly, with the death of the endearing character that looms over just about everyone. Instantly Rowling changes up her writing style and it is effortless.
Even in the tense and rollicking hunt, the book manages to be fun and vibrant and entertaining all at the same time. But with the final third’s almighty pivot, Harry Potter’s story becomes a relentless and morbid affair and magnifies its brilliance as a result.
Some people might like to lump Harry Potter with other young adult novels featuring a pubescent lead and a hero complex, but this is so much more than that. This feels like an adult’s story trapped in the body of a growing child. And in some cases Rowling presents that paradigm quite literally.
Truthfully Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is for grown ups. It’s depressing because that’s adult life, it’s buoyant and jubilant because that’s the life adults want and it’s hopeful because, at the end of the day, that is the emotion we hold so dear to our hearts.
Score: ★★★★ ½