This is the third time I’ve read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but the first since finishing Deathly Hallows and first time reading it critically. I’ve tailored this review in the following in mind: the intended audience for the book (much younger than myself) and it’s place in the series.
Like the first book in the series, Chamber of Secrets features brevity in length which can be easily explained as Rowlings tailoring the book to her primary audience of tweens. Just like in the previous book, Rowlings’ word choices are brilliant in giving vivid descriptions of the events that are transpiring as well as the background information that she built upon from the series first book. Like the first book Chamber of Secrets involves a mystery, but this time the consequences are truly life-threatening to Harry and his friends especially Hermione and Ginny Weasley.
The second installment of the Harry Potter series is a mixture of elements for the first and new things, a critical decision by Rowlings to advance the overall story. From the start Harry is touched by the magical world with the introduction of Dobby attempting, multiple times, to prevent Harry from returning to Hogwarts. The rescue of Harry from the Dursley’s house by the Weasley brothers and his stay at the Burrow is a wonderful extension of world building Rowlings began in Sorcerer’s Stone. The biggest debut in Chamber of Secrets is the first Horcrux in the story with Tom Riddle’s Diary, though we only find this out later in Half-Blood Prince. The climax which has only Harry and Ron figuring out the clues as to what was in (with help from a petrified Hermione) and where the Chamber of Secrets was, different from when all three of the main characters worked together, Rowling would reverse the situation in the next book with Harry and Hermione the main actors in the book’s climax.
Overall, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a wonderful second installment of Rowlings magical series. The reader’s view of the wizarding world grows a little without overwhelming the book’s main audience too soon in the series. Like it’s predecessor it is stands up over time.