Tuesday, July 28, 2015

“The villagers of Little Hangleton still called it “the Riddle House,” even though it had been many years since the Riddle family had lived there.”

Courtesy of goodreads.com
I will admit, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the third best book in the series.  It also gives me the most anxiety.  I tear through the other books, not being able to put them down until I triumphantly finish and then throw it aside to militantly start the next book; this one usually takes me about two weeks to read.  I obsessively read through the beginning and then trickle down to a couple of chapters a day, and then, at the end, I am putting the book down every few pages to reel from the shock (the shock which never gets old.)  By the time I am finished with the book, I am stunned all over again.

Why? Goblet of Fire is perhaps the most critical book in the series. It not only signals a shift in the narrative, but also a shift in Rowling's writing style. The narrative is darker, most complex, with more twists and turns. Rowling's writing is more mature, more detailed, and her crafted plot twists and characters were much more refined and succinct. However, probably the most distinct departure from the previous books is how little Rowling focuses on the school aspect of Harry's life.  Instead, Goblet focuses more on the expansiveness of the magical world beyond Hogwarts, the deep political tension growing due to seemingly truthful whispers of Voldemort's return, and on secrets that threaten many characters.

Goblet opens up with a murder of a Muggle by Lord Voldemort, letting the audience know immediately that he is back (thanks to a rat traitor...).  He is on the hunt for Harry. Harry, on the other hand, is snug (and miserable) at the Dursleys', awaiting news about the impending Quidditch World Cup.  Tents, snitches, Morsmordre, and accusations all accompany the international event and it is in a somber attitude that our favorites magical people return to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  However, the previously fatal Triwizard Tournament is being held at Hogwarts this year and two other European magic schools will be staying at Hogwarts to compete in the event.  Things are not as simple as they should be though, and Harry is once again the target of a murky, but dangerous plot, one that will have cataclysmic consequences and will forever change everything that Harry knows and threatens everything he loves.

Chapter 28, "The Madness of Mr. Crouch"
Most series struggle to keep up with themselves in the middle of the series. The middle usually signals a turning point, with the conflict already being introduced earlier.  However, Rowling chose to do things differently.  She used the first three books to set up the scene.  The readers receive the first major plot whammy in Goblet:Voldemort has returned and it is definitely not good.  With this new development, Rowling takes the reader away from the smaller details of a magical school (readers are in the classroom less and are more involved in the going-ons of the larger magical world) and plunges Harry and the readers into a plot line that had been threatening to explode since the first book.  Rowling is at her absolute best in this book; she manages the flow of several different plot lines beautifully, all while keeping up with witty dialogue, quirky new characters, unique magical elements, and, in the end, tying everything together so surprisingly and so deftly, it will leave the reader shocked (this lack of the element of surprise is what made the movie inferior).  Goblet just has a different feel to it than the previous three books.  It is markedly more mature than the previous three; this is the first time the series seems more geared towards adults than kids.  Rowling masterfully wrote a type of slow building suspense that builds the narrative all the while keeping up with Rowling's concepts of magic. The twists and turn throughout the plot seem to blend in perfectly, and do not hit you until one tell-all chapter towards the end.  Only then does the reader see the entire picture; only then does the reader realize that this is the real beginning of the series, the introduction of the main plot that will drive the rest of the books.  

Goblet of Fire is a force to be reckoned with as far as books go.  There is a fun, albeit slightly apprehensive undertone throughout the entire book, only to be quickly extinguished by horror, tragedy, and a looming power of evil.  Rowling leaves both the characters and the readers heartbroken but with a renewed sense of good and determination.  Goblet is the start of something big, and Rowling does not spare the readers the angst of what Voldemort's return means.  The future looks bleak and the ultimate war against Voldemort is beginning.

"As Hagrid had said, what would come, would come … and he would have to meet it when it did."

Stay Tuned for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix!!

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