Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2) by J. K. Rowling
Published 1999 by Bloomsbury.

Links: Goodreads.

Source: purchased.

Genre: children's fantasy.

My rating:

All Harry Potter wants is to get away from the Dursleys and go back to Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange, impish creature named Dobby – who says that if Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike.

And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor, Gilderoy Lockheart, a spirit named Moaning Myrtle who haunts the girls’ bathroom, and the unwanted attentions of Ron Weasley’s younger sister, Ginny.

But each of these seem minor annoyances when the real trouble begins, and someone–or something–starts turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possibly be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects… Harry Potter himself.

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We’re on to another Harry Potter review! Go check out what other participants in Harry Potter Month are doing, their posts are pretty cool! :) And my review of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is also possibly worth reading.

So, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. This one may possibly be my… ugh. I wanted to write “second favourite” but that’s Goblet of Fire (Half Blood Prince is first, in case you’re wondering), but then I also love Deathly Hallows and Prisoner of Azkaban so… Nope, I’m not sorting them. I just really like them all.

The story in this one is awesomePhilosopher’s Stone was all about getting to know the wizarding world and making friends and eating enough food for once but Chamber of Secrets is more sinister, the attacks are putting everyone on their toes and nobody knows who to trust.

But there’s still some comic relief in the form of Gilderoy Lockheart who is, I think, my favourite Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher (SERIOUSLY though, is DADA an acceptable acronym for this? It’s a mouthful!). He’s such an idiot but I love him all the same. I really like his movie version, too, I think Stephanie used the word “smarmy” which is exactly right for him. That duel with professor Snape is hilarious, and that chapter is one of the highlights of the book for me – both for the fun part and the big reveal at the end that Harry is a parselmouth.

As usual, I have to add a little something to balance out this devoted rambling: when I re-read the book this time I noticed something that never bothered me before: out of all the students at Hogwarts, many of whom are much more experienced in magic, Harry and Draco come out as the only suspects for the coveted position of Slytherin’s heir. I mean – of course Harry speaks to snakes and Draco is one nasty little kid (though I always had a soft spot for him) but can’t you at least check out some of the older students?

Also, why do all the Slytherins need to be bad? Do you know how troubling it is that 1/4 of the British wizarding population is thought inherently evil just because some moldy old hat put them in Slytherin? So unfair. Why is ambition thought to be a bad personal characteristic? This is a constant complaint for me – it doesn’t only relate to this book.

But these are minor issues, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets remains a favourite that I will read and re-read – hopefully with Kiddo, too, someday soon!

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Do you know which HP book is your favourite? Is it even possible to rank them? 

Which DADA (haha DADA! It’s official now!) teacher is your favourite? 

I’d love to hear from you! :)

  • Alex @ The Book Banner

    I love the word Smarmy! Heh. :) I agree with you about Slytherin’s being evil. I think they get a bad wrap. I know evil has come out of Slytherin but not all of them need to be bad or mean or evil. It’s like saying Harry was a Gryffindor so all Gryffindors are heroes. They are all good and brave and courageous. That’s not the case. It would have been nice to see a Slytherin that was considered good and kind and brave. It would have spiced up the books, I think.
    Great review!

    • Yep, this black-and-white mentality is much easier to stomach when you’re a kid, I think, but as an adult reading the series, it’s more obvious.
      I think Peter Pettigrew (Wormtail) was a Gryffindor and look at how HE turned out! Ugh!

  • Soudha Parsan

    Loved your review :) It’s true, though, that everyone seems a bit unfair towards the Slytherins. I mean, there has to be some decent kids among them, too, right? Also, Harry might be a pretty good wizard but I can’t say he’s that good at debunking mysteries :p I mean, his list of suspects really is seriously biased XD

    ofstacksandcups.blogspot.com

    • Yeah just because Harry hates Draco, Draco is the ultimate suspect, right? :) But hey, he was 12 at the time so I guess he’s forgiven… And it’s clear that Harry would have gotten nowhere without Hermione’s help! :)

  • PREACH! I’ve never understood why people have such a hate on for Slytherins. When Pottermore first came out, I filled out the quizzes so I could see where I’d be sorted…and apparently I’m a Slytherin! No complaints here. Smart, ambitious, dangerous…;) But in all seriousness, I think all of the houses have their good and bad characteristics associated with them. Harry, Hermione, and Ron in particular fly off the handle a lot.

    • *le gasp* You’re a Slytherin? Dangerous, huh? :) I’m a Gryffindor (always suspected I was one but Pottermore confirmed it).
      Yeah I know, Gryffindor seems to be the most well-balanced house, I think Wormtail was a G as well? And Slytherins do come through in The Battle of Hogwarts for the most part but up until then, it’s pretty black and white.

  • LOL I’ve always used DADA as an acronym, the full title is far too long XD

    I loved reading your thoughts Kaja, I wish I had time for a reread because I’m craving one at the moment. I agree with you about Slytherins being evil. I wish we’d gotten to know students that were nice and good from that House. In fact, I WISH that Harry had been forced to confront his prejudice about them for at LEAST one student and that the trio would have ended up befriending a Slytherin in the end! THAT would have been awesome :D

    • Yeah, I’m noticing stuff with this re-read that I didn’t notice before and it seems like H+R+H are the most friendly with the Hufflepuffs, at least at the beginning of the series. Making friends with a Slytherin would have created a nice balance.

  • I know, ranking the books is so difficult! I have a clear favorite, but then after that, I just don’t know. They are all so wonderful and so important to the whole series. My favorite is Prisoner of Azkaban.

    • Prisoner of Azkaban is a great choice! I love the story and everything, the dark turn especially. But Harry and Ron behave atrociously towards Hermione for a while! I’m writing my review for it now :)

  • Maraia

    Heh, I love the word “smarmy,” and it’s totally applicable to Lockhart.

    It’s funny, because most people I know say book 2 is their least favorite of the series. I never felt that way, so it’s nice to know I’m not alone. Lockhart definitely provides comic relief, but I think Lupin is my favorite, because I love his private moments with Harry. (Too bad he has to die, like ever other father figure in Harry’s life.)

    That is an interesting point about the Slytherins. I’m hopeful that the scene at the end of Deathly Hallows where all the house tables are abandoned is a sign that things are changing for the better.

    It definitely is DADA, although that makes me think of German art, haha.

    • Battle of Hogwarts is a game changer, that’s true. I like how some of the Slytherins came through at the end.

      Yep, DADA is one weird word – didn’t dadaists use a toilet for their performances? I had art history in high school but I remember some things better than others. “Dada” is also one of my son’s favourite words at the moment (along with “tata” and “baba”) ;)

      • Maraia

        I can’t even remember! I just know that Hitler HATED it. What are “tata” and “baba” short for?

        • I don’t think they’re “short for” anything at the moment – he’s just stringing syllables together. The only “meaningful” word he’s learned so far is “ne” = “no” :D (and sometimes he manages to do a vague “moo” sound and “ga ga” which is what ducks do in Slovenian instead of quacking) ;)

          • Maraia

            “No” is an important one, haha. What is “yes”? I love when kids make animal sounds. My friend’s daughter “roars,” except she only does it in a a whisper. I finally got to hear it the weekend before last. :D I also think differences in animal sounds across languages are fascinating. My Hungarian friend and I had once an extensive conversation about them. It’s also funny how many you (or at least I) forget as an adult. I think my favorite animal sound is the German one for roosters (kikeriki).

          • “Yes” is “ja” (pronounced like in German) or “da” (very formal).
            Our roosters go “kikiriki”, too :) I always found the sound in English to be really weird!

  • I love this review because I agree, Lockhart was the perfect comedic comic relief in a book that was a bit darker and sinister than the first, especially when I read the book as a kid. And I agree that it is strange thinking back on it that people would suspect Draco and Harry who are both second years, I am sure there were older more terrifying students at Hogwarts. Also, it’s nice to hear someone fighting for the Slytherin portion of Hogwarts, I was actually sorted into Slytherin on Pottermore and I was horrified at first, but then thought screw it, maybe that means I’m ambitious and smart and whatever the other traits are for Slytherin. It would have been nice to have a see a few Slytherin not be portrayed as the worst kind of human beings in the books.

    • Hahaha I love this bit: “I am sure there were older more terrifying students at Hogwarts” :D Now I’m imagining creepy people slinking down corridors, preying upon unsuspecting first years ;)

      Another Slytherin among my readers! Am I really surrounded by enemies?! :) Eh, I would have loved to be in Slytherin, it was always my second favourite house. Everyone around the blogosphere is always saying they’re Ravenclaws but I found them boring, usually :)

  • Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    These are great books. And both my boys loved them! :)

    • Ah, they did? :) How old are they? And have they read the entire series yet?

  • I enjoyed the duel scene too, and the rivalry between Snape and Lockhart. I especially enjoyed that Snape didn’t really see Lockhart as a threat of any kind because, come on, he is SMARMY. Love that word too, it fits him so well. I’m with you on the whole Slytherin thing, but I think it was more that the ones that DID go bad were most likely in that house, not that all the wizards in Slytherin were bad. That’s how I took it at least. I always think about Pettigrew though…he’s a Gryffindor and he went bad as well. I sometimes wonder how he ended up in Gryffindor to begin with because he was a HUGE coward.

    • Yeah but all the other houses are always hating on the Slytherins as a whole – as soon as you’re sorted there, you’re and a**hole or something. But some of them did fight in the Battle of Hogwarts, so they’re forgiven :)

      And yes, I always wondered about that, too! The Sorting Hat is supposed to be infallible, how on Earth did it sort Pettigrew into Gryffindor!?

      • Slytherin’s also have Snape to help clear their name ;) I wonder if there is such a stigma on the house after The Battle of Hogwarts.

  • Lockhart is so hilariously full of himself, lol. It is so, so hard to choose a favorite among the books because they’re all so brilliant. My heart does belong to Prisoner of Azkaban, but there’s so much to love about each book. :)

    • I *know*, it’s impossible to rank them, really. I mean, I love The Half-Blood Prince for so many reasons but I also love the others so it’s never a 100% answer for me. I’m reviewing Prisoner this week! :)

  • Chamber of Secrets is my least favorite Harry Potter book. I don’t really know if that means anything because it’s still a Harry Potter book. It’s basically just me saying, “Chamber of Secrets is my 7th favorite book ever”. It usually takes me a while to get through even though it’s such a short read, but the last time I read it, I was completely charmed by it and read it in nearly one sitting. It definitely introduces some darker ideas, but it’s still pretty silly and light hearted.

    I’d say my favorite DADA professor was Remus Lupin. The class received so much practical training that year!

  • Aw, Man. I know what you mean with trying to sort them out. The only one I can say definitively is Order of Phoenix is my least favorite.

    I agree that the chapter with the dueling and Harry’s reveal is so great. It’s awesome in the movie as well!

    You bring up REALLY good points about the Slytherins and it’s a similar complaint to what you had about the Dursley’s being just unremittingly bad. Basically Black and White world with shallow characterization. It is something that normally drives me mad when reading YA and middle-grade and yet I’m able to kind of gloss over it in HP for the most part. Also, I’m not done with the re-read of all the books yet but I do think she muddies the waters a bit as the series goes on (it will be interesting to see if my memory is right). Draco ends up being a conflicted character and of course Snape is super interesting. However, it never really fixes that Slytherin = EEEvil. Sigh…. We did at least see some jerk Hufflepuffs in this book right? Isn’t one of them really nasty to Harry?