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Review: HP & The Deathly Hallows

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. By JK Rowling, Bloomsbury, €13.30.
Published July 28th, 2007, The Sunday Business Post. Review by Alex Meehan

And so it ends. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows is the seventh and final novel in JK Rowling’s monumentally successful series and, for hardcore Potter fans, this is the most eagerly awaited of them all.

The good news is that Rowling has delivered a satisfying conclusion to the story she started writing 17 years ago, although not everyone will be happy with the outcome.

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At the start of the final book, Harry is reeling from the death of his mentor Albus Dumbledore and is struggling to carry out his last wishes, that he should track down and destroy a set of horocruxes – magical artefacts used by arch enemy Lord Voldemort to store portions of his twisted soul.

Harry, Ron and Hermione leave Hogwarts School, where Severus Snape has been installed as headmaster and start a long and difficult journey to find the location of the crucial objects and the means of destroying them.

In the meantime, the wizarding world has been thrown into chaos as Lord Voldemort has taken power, overthrown the Ministry of Magic and installs his followers in positions of authority. He instigates a policy of rounding up and killing wizards of mixed magical parentage and sinister ‘snatch squads’ roam the countryside looking for ‘mudbloods’ to imprison.

Really though, he is mostly concerned with hunting down Potter, and the stage is set for a final climactic showdown with the Dark Lord, as both Potter and Voldemort know one has to die for the other to live.

The body count in Deathly Hallows is significantly higher than in previous Potter books, and several well-loved characters meet their end during the course of the story. The emotional impact is high and it is clear Rowling has honed her craft over the course of the series. This is a well written book featuring well-loved characters risking their all.

There is a definite sense of foreboding as it becomes clear any character can go at any time, and the story is more gripping for it. In previous books, we have seen Harry grow from a child to a moody teenager and the bad news is that he is still stuck there.

When people are trying to help him, he’s unreasonable and quick to anger.

His can’t resist lashing out with his tongue and the result is that it is hard to stay supportive of a lead character who doesn’t always deserve the respect others give him. A crucial part of the journey Harry takes lies in his coming to terms with the failings of others.

His respect for Dumbledore crumbles as tabloid hack Rita Skeeter releases a book titled The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, which is designed to smear the now-deceased Hogwarts headmaster. Through Skeeter’s one-sided hatchet job, Harry finds out that his hero has not been entirely honest with him about his past, and starts to doubt the validity of his quest.

Deathly Hallows is a satisfying read for any fan of Rowling’s work. All the characters given prominence in the previous books make fresh appearances, and unresolved plotlines are brought to fruition. It contains everything the previous books had – and more.

It weighs in at a hefty 600 pages and while there are problems with elements of the story – the plot is overly long and convoluted – overall it is an exciting, fast-moving story with a well-written and satisfying climax.

The epilogue brings the story full circle, and reminds the reader that, while this started out as a children’s story, it became so much more. This is a worthy finale for a series that has become a publishing phenomenon.

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