Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 18 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 18, Dumbledore returns, we find out about that wonderful sword, and we see who Dobby was working for all along. Let’s go!

As always, definite spoilers abound for later books in the series.

Especially in this particular chapter.

I have to admit, it’s hard to not get a bit emotional with the Weasley parents reuniting with Ginny. They thought she was dead. Their youngest and only daughter. I love the Weasley family so much. They really are just the best. Harry finally gets to tell his story (after being hugged by Mrs. Weasley) and . . . it’s a doozy. And he’s broken about a hundred school rules, according to McGonagall, which may or may not be an exaggeration.

But we have to worry about Ginny here. It’s clear now that she was involved, but without the diary, how do we prove her innocence? Fortunately for everyone, Dumbledore knows that it was actually Voldemort, working through Ginny, that did all these things.

Dumbledore took the diary from Harry and peered keenly down his long, crooked nose at its burnt and soggy pages.

“Brilliant,” he said softly. “Of course, he was probably the most brilliant student Hogwarts has ever seen.”

I can’t remember from later books, but I think this was the first time Dumbledore suspected that Voldemort had made horcruxes. Him referring to Riddle as “brilliant” here takes on a double meaning: not only grudging admiration for a student turned bad, but the knowledge of how Voldemort survived the rebounding of the killing curse all those years ago. It also makes you wonder just how much good Riddle could have done with such a brilliant mind if he had stayed on the good side.

As a side note here, I don’t talk about it much, but I do occasionally enjoy reading Harry Potter fanfiction. My favorite character is Hermione, of course, and I always enjoy the stories that have her creeping closer and closer to that line between good and evil. I think when someone is as smart as she is (like Riddle was), that line can get blurred. It’s an interesting character study. The books talk about the similarities between Harry and Riddle, but I think Riddle and Hermione share quite a few as well. And EvilHermione is just plain fun. Let’s be honest – the boys would have been royally screwed if she wasn’t helping them all those years.

Ahem, back to the story.

Ginny is taken to the hospital wing, after being assured that there will be no punishment. I was glad of that. Sure, she was foolish in pouring herself into that diary, but surely she has suffered enough. Also not getting punished: Harry and Ron, since despite breaking all those rules, they also happen to have saved the day. But wait, we are forgetting something, aren’t we?

“Why so modest, Gilderoy?”

Yeah. Lockhart isn’t doing so well. He still doesn’t remember anything about anything and is taken to the hospital wing by Ron (and will eventually be committed to the wizarding hospital). This leaves Harry alone with Dumbledore, which is good, because there are a few things that need to be cleared up. Why did it seem like Harry was Slytherin’s heir? There was a ton of evidence: the Sorting Hat wanting him in Slytherin, the Parseltongue. Then we get this:

“You can speak Parseltongue, Harry,” said Dumbledore calmly, “because Lord Voldemort – who is the last remaining descendant of Salazar Slytherin – can speak Parseltongue. Unless I’m much mistaken, he transferred some of his own powers to you the night he gave you that scar. Not something he intended to do, I’m sure . . .”

Whoa. Way to drop something heavy on the kid, Dumbledore! I remember the debates after book 6, going into book 7 about whether or not Harry was a horcrux, but this pretty much lays it out right here. I don’t know how Harry didn’t suspect it sooner when he went horcrux hunting with Dumbledore in book 6, when Dumbledore basically tells him that right here.

But back to this book. Harry laments that he should have been put in Slytherin, but Dumbledore points out that there’s a very good reason why he didn’t: Harry asked to be put in Gryffindor. And if Harry has any doubts, that magic sword that appeared is an artifact of Godric Gryffindor himself.

“Only a true Gryffindor could have pulled that out of the hat, Harry,” said Dumbledore simply.

Well, there you go!

One last loose end to tie up. Dobby. Who arrives with his master, none other than . . . Lucius Malfoy. Turns out Malfoy had bullied the other school governors into suspending Dumbledore in the first place. Who here is surprised? Nope, me neither. We also find out that it was Mr. Malfoy who slipped Riddle’s diary to Ginny at Diagon Alley that day. As Malfoy leaves in a huff, Harry decides to do something for Dobby. He manages to trick Malfoy into throwing an old sock to Dobby, which frees him from his enslavement. Yeah, and once house elves are free, they happen to be pretty powerful, as Dobby is able to easily fend off a vengeful Malfoy from attacking Harry right there.

The rest of the book wraps up quite nicely. The petrified students are cured, including Hermione. Exams are cancelled. Mr. Malfoy is sacked as a school governor. Ginny recovers from her ordeal. And we find out that Percy has a girl friend, the Ravenclaw girl that had been attacked the same time Hermione was. Everyone gets on the Hogwarts Express and heads home.

And that’s the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets! Hope everyone had a good time reading along with me. These chapter reviews are a bit more difficult, but I am really enjoying doing them. I will start reading Prisoner of Azkaban tomorrow – I need to figure out how strict a schedule I will need to keep for that one, since these books will start getting longer and longer. Eventually, one chapter a day won’t cut it if I want to finish each book in a month!

See you next time for Prisoner of Azkaban!

Books I've Read

Re-Review: Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Kushiel's DartTitle: Kushiel’s Dart

Author: Jacqueline Carey

Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Series: Phedré’s Trilogy #1

Edition: Paperback

Original Review: February 20, 2012

Blurb: The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good…and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission…and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.

Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland. Treachery sets her on her path; love and honor goad her further. And in the doing, it will take her to the edge of despair…and beyond. Hateful friend, loving enemy, beloved assassin; they can all wear the same glittering mask in this world, and Phèdre will get but one chance to save all that she holds dear.

Set in a world of cunning poets, deadly courtiers, heroic traitors, and a truly Machiavellian villainess, this is a novel of grandeur, luxuriance, sacrifice, betrayal, and deeply laid conspiracies. Not since Dune has there been an epic on the scale of Kushiel’s Dart – a massive tale about the violent death of an old age, and the birth of a new.

Review: I’m going to start doing this more when I re-read a book, especially if it has been a while. I usually try to read new-to-me books so I have a good amount of review fodder, but that stops me from re-reading some favorites. Plus, it’s interesting to see how my thoughts about the book have changed.

I will say that I enjoyed the book a lot more this time around, probably because I knew what I was getting into from the beginning. Jacqueline Carey has a beautiful, flowing, poetic writing style that fits epic fantasy perfectly, but it can feel a bit dragging in places. This book is 900 pages long. That’s a lot. It’s a commitment for sure. This time around, I knew that and prepared myself to the long haul. When you do that, the writing is very enjoyable. Plus, now that I know where the story is going, I can appreciate the way the beginning (which I had originally said was hard for me to get into) really sets up these characters and the intrigue that binds them all together. This book is beautiful, though. It makes you want to visit the City of Eula, to roam the Court of Night Flowers.

I still stand by my statement that this book is not for everyone. It crosses the line into erotica many times, so if you are at all uncomfortable reading sex scenes, you may want to sit this one out. Some of them are graphic and a bit brutal too, given Phedré’s . . . abilities? Gifts? However you want to put it. They do not make up the bulk of the book, so you can skim them if you need to, but Phedré also uses these . . . visits to learn things about her clients. She is very much a spy for her master. So if you skim the sex scenes there is a chance you might miss something important that will come up later in the story.

When I read this the first time, I bought book 2, Kushiel’s Chosen, but never got around to reading it. It’s a bit shorter than book 1, but still a pretty good sized book. As I’ve said in my WWW posts, I am reading it right now. It’s on my list of series to try and finish this year, and since these are big books, I figured it was best to get started on them early!

GoodReads rating: 4 Stars

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 17 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 17, we finally see inside the Chamber of Secrets! Let’s go!

Oh, this place is so deliciously creepy! I love it! What makes it even better is the impending doom that lingers over every little bit of this setting. We know there is a monster, but we don’t see it! So good. Also, snakes everywhere. An odd decorating choice, but with a name like Slytherin, I guess it was meant to be.

Columns with serpents, a towering statue of Salazar himself, and at the base of the statue – Ginny. Who looks dead. Ugh, I was really scared for Ginny (and the rest of the Weasleys) when I read this the first time, but thankfully, Ginny is not dead yet. However, she won’t wake up. She’s also not alone.

A tall, black-haired boy was leaning against the nearest pillar, watching. He was strangely blurred around the edges, as though Harry were looking at him through a misted window. But there was no mistaking him –

“Tom – Tom Riddle?”

Show of hands, who thought that this was Voldemort on the first reveal? I sure didn’t! I thought he was a bit creepy in the beginning of this scene, but beforehand, I only felt sympathy for him. He was stuck in an orphanage. He tracked down the monster the first time around, or so we thought. Riddle explains that he isn’t a ghost – he is a memory that had been trapped inside the diary for fifty years. Sure enough, the diary is also there, laying on the ground. Harry doesn’t suspect Riddle yet, even though Riddle is super creepy, plus seems to know a bit about the basilisk – “It won’t come until it is called.” Creepy!

That’s my official word for this review, by the way. Creepy. It just fits.

Riddle gets Harry’s wand and starts explaining exactly what happened in traditional villain fashion. He got to know Ginny through the diary, as Ginny was the first one to have it. He made friends with her, and then slowly was able to possess her in a way. Ginny was the one who opened the Chamber of Secrets, killed the roosters, wrote the messages on the wall, and set the basilisk loose on the castle.

Show of hands, who suspected Ginny? Anyone? Yeah, I didn’t either.

Of course, it wasn’t Ginny’s fault. She didn’t know she was doing it, thought she was losing her mind because she had large spaces of time where she didn’t know where she was or what she was doing. Keep in mind, this is an eleven year old girl. This must have been terrifying!

Ginny also spent a lot of time writing to Riddle about Harry. Riddle wanted very much to meet Harry, but Harry doesn’t give him a chance to say much more. He is preoccupied with the fact that Riddle had framed Hagrid and got him kicked out of school. Who could have possibly thought Hagrid was the Heir of Slytherin anyway? Please! It was Riddle who found out about the Chamber and set about to follow in Slytherin’s footsteps and rid the school of “Mudbloods.”

But plans have changed. Now Riddle wants Harry. And why? BECAUSE HE’S VOLDEMORT!!! AHHHHH!!

He pulled Harry’s wand from his pocket and began to trace it through the air, writing three shimmering words:

TOM MARVOLO RIDDLE

Then he waved the wand once, and the letters of his name rearranged themselves:

I AM LORD VOLDEMORT

Convenient that his name just happened to spell that, isn’t it.

Riddle had taken on the name Voldemort so he wouldn’t have to use his Muggle father’s name. He is the Heir of Slytherin, through his mother. He wanted to become the greatest sorcerer in the world. But he isn’t, Harry tells him. That’s Dumbledore. Sorry! Dumbledore is amazing and Voldemort is currently a broken down wreck who can only live as a parasite through other people. Riddle doesn’t see it that way. He thinks he is more powerful because he was able to drive Dumbledore away. Harry knows though – Dumbledore told him, that night at Hagrid’s hut, that he would always be there for those who were loyal to him.

I have to admit, Dumbledore shows his appreciation for loyalty in strange ways. If I was going up against the memory of the most evil wizard ever, I would want something more than a bird and a hat, even if the bird was a phoenix and the hat was the Sorting Hat. At least the Sorting Hat brings Harry a sword. That is at least helpful, when Riddle decides it’s time for the basilisk to come out and play. The phoenix, Fawkes, is able to help in the fight, pecking out the basilisk’s eyes so that it can’t turn Harry to stone. Excellent play, that! Still, this is a gigantic snake that could probably swallow Harry in one bite, so it isn’t as though he’s safe.

Harry is able to stab the basilisk and kill it, but also ends up driving a fang into his arm in the process. Basilisk venom is highly poisonous, of course, but here comes Fawkes to the rescue again. Phoenix tears have healing powers, as Dumbledore said before. Harry is back in business, but there’s still Riddle to deal with. Harry does the only thing that he can think of – grabs a fang and stabs it through the diary. I would not have thought to do that, if I was in his position. That was pretty clever, and it makes sense. Riddle came from the diary. Destroy the diary, you destroy Riddle. Destroy Riddle, and you wake up Ginny. Poor, poor Ginny.

“Harry – oh, Harry – I tried to tell you at b-breakfast, but I c-couldn’t say it in front of Percy – it was me, Harry – but I – I s-swear I d-didn’t mean to – R-Riddle made me, he t-took me over – and – how did you kill that – that thing? W-where’s Riddle? The last thing I r-remember is him coming out of the diary -“

I would not be right after this. I don’t think I would ever recover. This is horrifying. Do they have psychologists in the wizarding world? This girl needs therapy, stat. Poor Ginny is terrified that she will be expelled and what her parents will think. Oh, honey. Can I hug a fictional character? I just want to hug her so bad!

They get back to Ron, who has cleared part of the rubble away so they can get through. Lockhart, on the other hand . . . he isn’t doing so good. That memory charm he tried to use with Ron’s broken wand? It kind of, sort of backfired.

“Hello,” he said. “Odd sort of place, this, isn’t it? Do you live here?”

Yeah. He has no idea who he is or what is happening? For someone who has used memory charms to take credit for the deeds of others, this is pretty sweet karma. With the help of Fawkes, they are able to fly back up the pipe into Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. Which leads to what is, in my opinion, one of the best quotes in the book.

“Oh, well . . . I’d just been thinking . . . if you had died, you’d have been welcome to share my toilet,” said Myrtle, blushing silver.

Myrtle has a crush on Harry!!

See you next time for Chapter 18, the final chapter of the book!

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday – 2/27/19

WWW New

WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Three questions, three answers. Let’s go!

What are you currently reading?

I am about halfway through Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas, book 4 in the Throne of Glass series. Moving right along there! Also still reading Kushiel’s Chosen by Jacqueline Carey and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling, although I will be finishing that one up either today or tomorrow.

What did you recently finish reading?

Finished book 3 of the Throne of Glass series, Heir of Fire, last week around WWW time.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Honestly, other than continuing in the three series I am reading, I’m not sure. I’ve signed up for a few book tours, but I don’t know if I’m going to be chosen for any of them (I’ve never done one before). I do have some NetGalley reviews coming up in March and April, the first of those being Never-Contented Things by Sarah Porter, which I am very much looking forward to reading.

What is everyone else up to this week?

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 16 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

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In Chapter 16, so many things are happening! Let’s go!

Things are really starting to come to a head in this chapter, and I love it!

First off, how much would it suck if you had all this stuff going on at school and THEN were told you had to take your exams. I get that they wanted to keep things running smoothly, but still. Give the kids a break. They do get some good news though. The Mandrakes are ready to go, so all the petrified people will be cured. That’s something anyway.

More misdirection ahead! Ginny comes up to the boys during breakfast and seems to want to tell them something, but is nervous about it. She runs off when Percy shows up. Now it’s Percy acting weird when Ron says that Ginny was trying to tell them something.

“Well, er, if you must know, Ginny, er, walked in on me the other day when I was – well, never mind – the point is, she spotted me doing something and I, um, I asked her not to mention it to anybody. I must say, I did think she’d keep her word. It’s nothing, really, I’d just rather -“

Jeez, Percy. What the heck were you doing? I don’t think I ever thought that Percy was involved with the Chamber, although I never suspected Ginny was either. It’s just a weird scene.

The next scene shows Lockhart saying that he definitely believes Hagrid is guilty and I just want to stab him. Jerk.

Harry and Ron want to go check out Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom, but are waylaid by McGonagall. They lie and say that they were headed to the hospital wing to visit Hermione, which hits McGonagall right in the feels.

“Of course,” she said, and Harry, amazed, saw a tear glistening in her beady eye. “Of course, I realize this has all been hardest on the friends of those who have been . . . I quite understand. Yes, Potter, of course you may visit Miss Granger. I will inform Professor Binns where you’ve gone. Tell Madam Pomfrey I have given my permission.”

I would have felt really guilty lying to McGonagall, but if Harry and Ron do, they get over it quickly. Boys. *sigh*

Going to the hospital wing turns out to provide a boon as they find a piece of paper clenched in Hermione’s fist that basically solves the whole book, because of course it does. It’s Hermione. The paper is from an old book describing a basilisk, or a giant serpent that can turn people to stone with its stare. No one has been turned to stone because no one has seen it directly: Colin saw it through his camera, Justin saw it through Nearly-Headless Nick, Mrs. Norris saw the reflection in the water, and Hermione saw the reflection through the little mirror she had been carrying. It’s rather brilliant, really.

Oh, and basilisks, hate the crowing of roosters (which is why Hagrid’s roosters were killed) and spiders are terrified of it, (which is why they were leaving the castle in droves).

Hermione also wrote the word “pipes” on the paper, leading Harry to believe that the basilisk was getting through the castle using the plumbing, which explains why he heard the voice in the walls. He heard it as a voice because he’s a Parselmouth, but here is something that I don’t understand. If the basilisk was speaking loud enough for Harry to hear it, why didn’t anyone else hear the hissing? When Harry spoke Parselmouth during the Dueling Club, they heard him making the weird hissing sounds – it still makes noise even if you can’t understand it, just like hearing anyone around you speak a foreign language. Take when Harry first hears the voice during his detention with Lockhart, or when he hears it again in the hallway with Ron and Hermione. Someone else should have heard hissing at least, or some sort of sound, if Harry could hear words. But they don’t.

Just a pet peeve. Someone else should have heard this thing, even if they didn’t know what they were hearing.

An announcement is made that all students are to return to their dorms, which of course Harry and Ron don’t do. They hide in the teacher’s staffroom and overhear that not only has the monster struck again, it has taken a student down into the Chamber with it, leaving the horrifying message: “Her skeleton will lie in the Chamber forever.”

The student? Ginny Weasley.

Of course, Lockhart has to come in and act like an ass, but the other professors are having none of it. They call upon all the wonderous claims Lockhart has made (including knowing where the entrance to the Chamber is) and task him with rescuing Ginny from the monster’s clutches. After all, he did so many great deeds in all his books, did he not? (spoiler: he did not.)

Harry and Ron decide to at least go tell Lockhart what they know so he will be prepared, but turns out, Lockhart is preparing to run. Yup, he’s a complete fraud who can’t do any of the magic he says he can (as if that wasn’t obvious from the beginning). The only thing he is good at is memory charms, which is how he kept it all a secret.

Harry disarms Lockhart (thanks Dueling Club!) and the three of them head for Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom. They ask her how she died, which Myrtle is delighted to tell them.

“Ooooh, it was dreadful,” she said with relish. “It happened right in here. I died in this very stall. I remember it so well. I’d hidden because Olive Hornby was teasing me about my glasses. The door was locked, and I was crying, but then I heard somebody come in. They said something funny. A different language, I think it must have been. Anyway, what really got me was that it was a boy speaking. So I unlocked the door, to tell him to go and use his own toilet, and then -” Myrtle swelled importantly, her face shining. “I died.”

First of all, how awful to die in a public bathroom. Secondly, how awful to now HAUNT that bathroom for the rest of your days. Thirdly, this proves my point again. Myrtle heard the Parseltongue being spoken! Why didn’t anyone else???

She says all she saw before she died were a pair of big, yellow eyes coming from the direction of one of the sinks. Harry finds a small snake etched into the faucet and uses Parseltongue to open the passage. They send Lockhart down, and then jump down themselves. The passage slides down far below the castle into a tunnel filled with animal bones and a very, very large green snake skin. Lockhart pretends to faint, but uses the distraction to steal Ron’s wand. He attempts to cast a memory charm, but this is Ron’s wand after all, and it’s still broken. The results: Lockhart blasts away part of the tunnel, causing it to cave in. Harry is the only one able to continue forward to find Ginny.

Would you be able to continue down that passage? I don’t think I would!

See you next time for Chapter 17!

Teaser Tuesday · Top Ten Tuesdays

Teasers & Top Tens – 2/26/19

tuesday

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Purple Booker.

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers! 

She was shaking from head to toe, and couldn’t stop crying, not as the full weight of missing Rowan crashed into her, the weight of these weeks alone. “How did you get here? How did you find me?” Aelin withdrew far enough to study the harsh face shadowed by his hood, the tattoo peeking out along the side of it, and the grim line of his smile.

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass #4)

Getting back to this series today!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

TTT-NEW

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s topic is:

Top Ten Places Mentioned in Books That I’d Like To Visit

First off, I want to preface this by saying that no one said these places had to be actually real. Reality is overrated anyway! Which is why my #1 is . . .

  1. Hogwarts Castle (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling) – Yes, of course. I wanna go to Hogwarts so bad! I got to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida several years ago and it was awesome, but the real thing has got to be even better, right? (Don’t you dare tell me it isn’t real!)
  2. Terre d’Ange (Phedré’s Trilogy by Jacqueline Carey) – This is basically a fantasy version of France, but hey, it’s supposed to be a country founded by angels. Must be really pretty!
  3. Chicago, Illinois (Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill) – Okay, so this one is real. I’ve never been to Chicago, but I love big cities and I think this one would be fun to visit.
  4. Europe (13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson) – Okay, so this one is a little broad, but when I think about books about travel, this is the first one that comes to mind. Let’s be honest, I’d just like to have a relative that could send me on a scavenger hunt across Europe. Living by only my wits.
  5. World’s End (Sandman #51-55 by Neil Gaiman) – There are very few places in the Sandman series that I would want to find myself, but the Inn at World’s End sounds like a fascinating place.
  6. The Circle (The Circle by David Eggers) – Yeah, I know it’s supposed to be evil and all that, but I fully admit that I would have been taken in by the Circle. Completely. Even knowing what I know, I still kind of wish I could work there? Is that crazy?
  7. Alicante (The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare) – The hometown of the Shadowhunters. The city of glass. It just sounds so beautiful (before it got destroyed, of course).
  8. Wonderland (the version in the Splintered series by A.G. Howard) – While there have been several visions of what Wonderland looks like, I love Howard’s version so much. The madness and chaos speaks to me.
  9. The Shire (The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien) – Of all the locations in Middle Earth, let me live in the Shire. It’s beautiful, peaceful, and let’s face it, I’d make a good hobbit. I’m short, chubby, and love to eat. Give me some hairy feet and I’m good to go!
  10. The Night Circus (The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern) – Wherever it is, I want to see the Night Circus. It is one of the most mysterious and magical things I have ever read about and I want to see it so bad!

Happy Tuesday!

 

Chapter-A-Long

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – Chapter 15 (#PotterheadReadAlong19)

HPCS BannerIn Chapter 15, we get used to a Hogwarts without Hagrid and Dumbledore (which just feels wrong), find out what “follow the spiders” means (literally, it means follow the spiders, of course), and take an eventful trip to the Forbidden Forest. Let’s go!

Double Harry Potter today! Since it’s getting toward the end of the month, and I’m supposed to start Prisoner of Azkaban in March, I figured I’d better get cracking. And since these books get longer and longer, I should probably get used to it.

On to the review!

I don’t want there to be a Hogwarts without Hagrid! Or Dumbledore either, but especially not Hagrid! It’s not right!

Ahem.

Yeah, everything at Hogwarts is pretty terrible. Everyone is scared, no one is having fun, teachers have to escort the students to and from class. It’s awful. Besides that, Harry and Ron have no idea what to do with those last two clues that Dumbledore and Hagrid left them. Who are they supposed to ask for help? How do they follow the spiders when all the spiders seem to have vanished?

It’s very bleak, not gonna lie. The good news, if you can call it that, is that the other students have stopped suspecting Harry as the culprit ever since Hermione got attacked. They know he would never do anything to hurt one of his best friends. So that helps, a bit. I think.

Harry and Ron do get a lead about the spiders, finding some in their Herbology class, walking in a line headed towards the Forbidden Forest. They decide to head out under the Invisibility Cloak to see what they can find. See, I’m with Ron on this one. I don’t like spiders. They creep me out. Following a bunch of spiders into a spooky forest that we already know is filled with scary stuff . . . forget it. No way. Not gonna do it. They take Fang, Hagrid’s dog, with them to act as a guide and as some protection, but still. Nope. Nope nope nope.

Suddenly, they are suprised by . . . the car. Mr. Weasley’s Ford Anglia, which has taken up residence in the Forbidden Forest and has gone a bit wild. It has a mind of it’s own, apparently. It’s just enough to distract them from . . . the giant spiders that swarm over them and carry them to the big daddy giant spider. Aragog.

And from the middle of the misty, domed web, a spider the size of a small elephant emerged, very slowly. There was gray in the black of his body and legs, and each of the eyes on his ugly, pincered head was milky white. He was blind.

“What is it?” he said, clicking his pincers rapidly.

“Men,” clicked the spider who had caught Harry.

“Is it Hagrid?” said Aragog, moving closer, his eight milky eyes wandering vaguely.

“Strangers,” clicked the spider who had brought Ron.

“Kill them,” clicked Aragog fretfully. “I was sleeping . . .”

This is nightmare fuel, right there. Terrifying.

Harry yells out that they are friends of Hagrid’s in hopes that the spiders (who seem to be Hagrid’s friends??) won’t eat them or kill them or whatever spiders do. We proceed to learn that Aragog is NOT the monster from the Chamber of Secrets, although he was thought to be when Hagrid took the blame and got expelled. Aragog never attacked anyone. Aragog won’t tell them what the monster is though.

“The thing that lives in the castle,” said Aragog, “is an ancient creature we spiders fear above all others. Well do I remember how I pleaded with Hagrid to let me go, when I sensed the beast moving about the school.”

Let me just say this: anything that terrifies a spider the size of an elephant is not something I want to deal with, especially since it has children who are the size of horses. Again, nightmare fuel. Anyone with arachnophobia should really sit this chapter out.

Aragog decides that he is done talking and the rest of the spiders close in. Harry and Ron are lucky enough to be rescued by the car and escape the giant spiders. Wow, that’s a really weird sentence. They make it out of the Forest and think over what they have learned (after Ron throws up in Hagrid’s pumpkin patch). Hagrid was innocent. He never opened the Chamber, and never even knew what was inside it. Aragog had mentioned that the girl who died last time was found in a bathroom, which means that maybe . . .

“Ron – that girl who died. Aragog said she was found in a bathroom,” said Harry, ignoring Neville’s snuffling snores from the corner. “What if she never left the bathroom? What if she’s still there?”

Ron rubbed his eyes, frowning through the moonlight. And then he understood, too.

“You don’t think – not Moaning Myrtle?”

Yay! More Moaning Myrtle is always good!

See you next time for Chapter 16!