It’s over! I actually can’t believe there’s no more left. I’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions over the last week, with way more lows than highs, but the final high being the best one of all. Be warned that this review contains many, many spoilers, so if you’ve not read the book, I advise you click away!
The books begins with Harry saying farewell to his ‘family’, the Dursley’s. His aunt and uncle don’t express much emotion at the thought that they’ll never see him again, but there’s a lovely moment between Dudley and Harry when, although he’s goaded and bullied him all his life, Dudley tells Harry that he doesn’t think he’s a waste of space.
There’s an awful moment as Harry is being moved from his ‘home’ to The Burrow when we think that George has died, but it turns out that he’s had his ear sliced off by a death eater, later found out to be Snape. He hasn’t forgotten his sense of humour though, although Fred is disappointed:
“Pathetic! With the whole wide world of ear-related humour before you, you go for holy?”
The majority of the book leaves you feeling very doubtful about Dumbledore, and his intentions towards asking Harry to carry out this monumental task, without giving him any real help, only mysterious clues which do not prove to be easy to figure out!
In the film, I’ve always found it an emotional moment when Hermione obliviates her parents to remove her memory so that the death eaters can’t use them to find where she is. But in the book, we find out that the first time that Hermione uses the obliviate spell is when they meet death eaters in Tottenham Court Road, and that she only cast a charm on her parents, which she plans to undo if they are successful in their plans. Which makes me much happier that Hermione won’t be left alone, and that she can get her parents back to share her life and that of her kids.
I’m not going to talk too much about the finding of the horcruxes and the uncovering of the story around the deathly hallows, apart from to say that the action kept me hooked and desperate to remember what happened next, since it’s been so long since the last time I read this book.
But the last 100-150 pages of the book had me more gripped than any book I’ve read in recent times. The fighting scenes were so well written, fast paced and full of action, but also interspersed with human moments and acts of bravery and mercy which made it much more realistic and full of emotional connection rather than just killing and maiming all over the place.
The shocker for me was Percy coming back to fight along side his family against the regime which he supported so earnestly that he disowned his entire family and all his friends. At first I wasn’t sure if they were going to accept him back, but that’s not what true family does, and the Weasley’s are the truest family you can get.
And in and among the horrific moments of the final fight, we finally see Ron and Hermione share their first kiss, prompted by the unusual moment of Ron sticking up for the house elves, and declaring that they can’t ask them to fight, ‘we don’t want any more Dobby’s’, referring to the fact that Dobby died to save them from Malfoy Manor and certain capture by Voldemort, a moment which definitely made me shed a tear.
But not as big a tear as when we find out that Fred Weasley has died, along with about fifty other people in the battle to keep Voldemort away from the castle long enough for Harry to find the final Horcrux, Ravenclaw’s lost diadem, which bears the phrase ‘Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure’.
At the very end of the book, we find the shocking truth about Snape, that contrary to popular belief, he wasn’t a death eater hell bent on making Harry’s life miserable until such a time as he could deliver him to Voldemort, he actually risked his life to keep Harry safe in memory of his mother, Lily, with whom Snape had been in love for nearly all his life. Snape’s patrons is a silver doe, the same as Lily’s was before she was killed by Voldemort. When Dumbledore asks Snape if he still loves her after all this time, Snape utters one word, possibly the most powerful word in the entire set of seven books: Always.
Towards the end of the book, two characters really come into their own. Firstly, Molly Weasley. After seeing Hermione, Luna and Ginny and duelling with Bellatrix Lestrange, she shouts ‘NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH’, and forces the other’s aside while she duels solo with Bellatrix until she strikes the fatal blow, thereby killing Voldemort’s most faithful servant, and the death eater who tortured Neville’s parents and killed Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black.
Speaking of Harry, he’s almost certainly the character who undergoes the biggest change in this year. Up until now, he’s been portrayed as lovely young man, but not exactly the best at magic, his spells often ending in amusing failures. But he comes into his own while Harry, Ron and Hermione are away from school, leading Dumbledore’s Army, despite the punishments received from the teachers who are now mostly composed of death eaters. We already know from the prophecy that it could have referred to either Harry or Neville, but Voldemort himself assured that it would be Harry when he decided that he would go after Harry to prevent the prophecy from coming true.
But Neville proves himself a true Gryffindor, brave and loyal, when he stands up to Voldemort on his own after it looks like Harry has been killed and all hope has been lost. Voldemort sticks the sorting hat on his head and sets it on fire, but the sorting hat delivers something that it could only deliver to someone who truly deserved it, the sword of Godric Gryffindor, which Neville then uses to destroy the final Horcrux, the snake Nagini, thus setting about the final battle that Hogwarts will see.
Well I think I’ve gone on for long enough now, so I’ll finish with just a little more. Firstly, I’ll say that since the first time I read this book, I’ve changed my opinion on the final chapter of the book ‘Nineteen years later’. I initially didn’t like it, thinking that it felt rushed and tacked on. But now I can see that it closed the book very nicely, letting you know that your beloved characters have grown up happily and peacefully, and that the memory of those that were lost lives on in the next generation.
If you’ve got this far and somehow you haven’t read this book, go out and read it, read the entire series and absorb the magicality of the world that Rowling created. And if you’ve already read it, read it again. You won’t regret it.