Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
Those thousands of fans already familiar with this series will not be disappointed; Rowling is surprisingly inventive in her small details and startling in her plot twists. And what is particularly pleasing is that Harry grows in this novel, as the thematic concerns of the series grow in complexity. In this, the 3rd Harry Potter book, Harry returns to Hogwarts for his third year. He is shadowed by the knowledge of Sirius Black, a close associate of Lord Voldemort and one-time intimate friend of Harry's parents. Lord Voldemort has escaped from the prison of Azkaban and is undoubtedly looking to avenge himself upon Harry. While struggling with this shadow, Harry also deals with the presence of the Dementors, the guards of Azkaban. The Dementors are looking for Sirus Black because they want to suck all joy and happiness out of those they find, and Harry, because of his past, is particularly susceptible to their powers. Supported by close friends Ron and Hermione, our hero Harry faces Black, fights for the House Cup, and in the end, comes to a new knowledge of his parents that he had never dreamed possible. Here the good and the evil are not so starkly drawn, and may even at times blend in disturbing ways. If the final unraveling of the mystery is a bit clumsy, handled by lengthy and stilted exposition rather than her usual brisk action, Rowling is still wonderfully adept at creating engaging characters and a narrative line that pushes forward at a remarkable pace. —Arthur P. Levine
Alan Review

This book is as daring and thrilling as any fantasy can be. Harry must confront the evil wizard responsible for his parent's death. Foes may wear disguises and appear harmless. Harry, with help from his friends, must use all his wits to discover the truth. In between quidditch games, studying, and coping with being an emerging teen, Harry has to battle the forces out to end his life. This third book flies by with breath-taking adventures and in-depth character development that helps us understand the complex cast with greater appreciation. I'm panting for Book Four.
Children's Literature

Rowling proves that she has plenty of tricks left up her sleeve in this third Harry Potter adventure, set once again at the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Right before the start of term, a supremely dangerous criminal breaks out of a supposedly impregnable wizards' prison; it will come as no surprise to Potter fans that the villain, a henchman of Harry's old enemy Lord Voldemort, appears to have targeted Harry. In many ways this installment seems to serve a transitional role in the seven-volume series: while many of the adventures are breathlessly relayed, they appear to be laying groundwork for even more exciting adventures to come. The beauty here lies in the genius of Rowling's plotting. Seemingly minor details established in books one and two unfold to take on unforeseen significance, and the finale, while not airtight in its internal logic, is utterly thrilling. Rowling's wit never flags, whether constructing the workings of the wizard world (Just how would a magician be made to stay behind bars?) or tossing off quick jokes (a grandmother wears a hat decorated with a stuffed vulture; the divination classroom looks like a tawdry tea shop). The Potter spell is holding strong.
Publishers Weekly

The Harry Potter epic (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) continues to gather speed as Harry enters his third year at the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry and does battle with the traitor behind his parents' deaths. Besides coping with the usual adversaries— sneering classmate Draco Malfoy, evocatively-named Potions Master Snape—the young wizard-in-training has a new worry with the escape of Sirius Black, murderous minion of archenemy Lord Voldemort, from the magicians' prison of Azkaban. Folding in subplots and vividly conceived magical creatures, Azkaban's guards, known as dementors, are the very last brutes readers would want to meet in a dark alley. With characteristic abandon, Rowling creates a busy backdrop for Harry as she pushes him through a series of terrifying encounters and hard-fought games of Quidditch, on the way to a properly pulse-pounding climax strewn with mistaken identities and revelations about his dead father. The main characters and the continuing story both come along so smartly (and Harry at last shows a glimmer of interest in the opposite sex, a sure sign that the tides of adolescence are lapping at his toes) that the book seems shorter than its page count: have readers clear their calendars if they are fans, or get out of the way if they are not.
Kirkus Reviews

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