Author: J.K. Rowling
Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Narrator: Jim Dale
Publication Info: Listening Library, 2007
In 2007, expectations were high for the final volume in the Harry Potter series. I believe it’s safe to say that J.K. Rowling stuck the landing. I remember I was traveling home from Los Angeles the day the book was released and since the book was not available at the bookstore near my gate, I actually walked to another terminal to get a copy. And then I read most of it on my redeye flight to Boston.
It felt like a huge change to have Harry, Hermione, and Ron skipping their final year at Hogwarts to search for horcruxes. The familiar structure of Harry Potter novels was disrupted. Instead we get a novel with two distinct sections. The first is kind of a mystery as the trio search for clues to find and destroy horcruxes. The second is a war story as the forces of good face Voldemort and his Death Eater for a climactic battle.
What’s impressive is that so many of the themes, places, and characters established in the previous six stories are worked into the story. Griphook and Mr. Ollivander, for example, are people Harry met in his first encounter with the Wizarding World and they each play a vital role in this novel. These throwbacks are natural though and all click into place in a satisfying narrative.
While still a large book, The Deathly Hallows feels more narratively straight-forward and moves faster than its predecessors. Obviously a lot of work was set up for this book by its predecessors, especially The Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince, that did a lot of the scene-setting and explanation, whereas The Deathly Hallows is more about piecing that knowledge together. There are some parts that didn’t work for me. Harry meeting Dumbledore in a heaven-like Kings Cross rather than dying felt like a cop-out to me at first, although I’ve softened on that over time. The epilogue is something I see a lot criticism about, and I agree that it is unsatisfying, probably because it is unnecessary.
The Deathly Hallows was the only book that came out after I started this blog so you can also read my initial impressions from 2007.