Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

I never thought Harry Potter series could be more complicated, at least after reading the ever unpredictably bewildering yet gripping Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. But J.K. Rowling proves me wrong. First published in 1999, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban does not only have more pages, but also more details and unexpected revelations. And the reader had better be ready for something unpleasant.

After losing his control and messing up in the Dursleys’, Harry decides to get out of that house and brings with him all of his belongings and magic stuff, going exactly nowhere. He believes he’s already been expelled from Hogwarts the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry then and there for breaking the most fundamental decree of the underage wizard. But the Minister of Magic finds him and tells him that he’s not expelled. Bewildered, he immediately goes back to the school with his best friends, Ron and Hermione.

However, having managed to avoid being expelled from school doesn’t mean that he can escape from the real danger, the Grim which seemingly warns him about his death and the feeling of being watched by someone at school. The fact that a certain prisoner of Azkaban has reportedly run away and that the guards of the said prison, namely the Dementors, are being sent to Hogwarts to keep an eye on the movement of the running prisoner only get Harry’s nerve tighter. As much as being dangerous, this running prisoner, who is allegedly accused of murdering Harry’s parents, has caught Harry’s attention. One night, he is dragged to the Shrieking Shack and meets the prisoner himself, talking to him and being told everything about his parents’ death.

J.K. Rowling never ceases to amaze me with her humanly natural portrayal of characters, with how she describes the feelings and thoughts of every character so vividly that they never seem made-up even in words. I cannot say that she’s done something more to the three main characters we already know, or that she makes the characterization of Severus Snape more than merely suspicious or cynical, but I really like the way she writes all the dialogues and behaviors to make us believe they’re all believable. Kids are kids. They can be heroes in some senses, but they are naturally meant to have some faults. This is something about Rowling which keeps me fascinated, nothing so polished to a fault.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban seems to have many things to tell, but the mystery has not unfolded in full yet. It is just as I had expected before, for I couldn’t imagine everything would have been made known to the reader before the seventh book. This tells us how clever and tricky Rowling can be in composing an immensely engaging, full-of-surprise, magical fantasy story. It is also proven in how Rowling slips some strange, unlikely scenes here and there, puts just enough tension into several parts to make us anxious endlessly, and brings us to a satisfying climax, however it ends.  Interestingly, every single little detail Rowling scrapes together doesn’t go to waste, instead they exist to make the storyline sensible and understandable. And Rowling wraps everything up in a darker than ever atmosphere, making me wonder if it was only me shuddering at some pages. Nevertheless, Rowling never forgets to write ridiculous, hilarious dialogues and have some silly humor spread all over the conversations, especially when it is Ron’s or Lee Jordan’s turn to show up. Reading something mysterious and dark like the Prisoner of Azkaban really needs some relaxation like that.

All in all, I’d like to say that Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is just better than the previous installment of the series and  I truly like it. Not that the Chamber of Secrets is bad or something, but as a reader, it seems so normal for me to expect something better from an author every each time they release a new work. I certainly recommend this book to those who want a great read and a great fantasy story.

Rating: 3.5/5

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