Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by Ann M. Colford


The most anticipated publishing phenomenon of the year, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, sold 8.5 million copies in a month and is already in its third printing. Millions lined up at midnight on June 21 to purchase the 870-page tome at a suggested retail price of 30 bucks despite the absence of reviews - the publisher did not allow advance copies.


But soon the fifth installment of J. K. Rowling's saga of magic and wizardry attracted reviewers from Stephen King to A. S. Byatt. While Byatt finds Rowling's series "a latency-period fantasy" filled with "derivative narrative clich & eacute;s," the horrormeister King - who knows a thing or two about popular storytelling - predicts "Harry will take his place with Alice, Huck, Frodo, and Dorothy," and "wind up on a shelf where only the best are kept."


The dueling reviews recall Lord Voldemort and Albus Dumbledore, the yin and yang of Phoenix. In Rowling's darkest and most complex effort yet, the deliciously malevolent Professor Umbridge aids Voldemort's return with her insufferable bureaucratic meddling. Harry suffers a full-blown case of adolescence, with raging hormones and just plain rage battling for supremacy, but he's still basically a good-hearted soul, despite what Hermione terms a "saving-people thing." It's his empathy and sense of responsibility that gets him into trouble here, but ultimately his loving nature proves to be his most valuable asset.


Harry must deal with his first close death in Phoenix, and Rowling portrays his grief accurately and poignantly. In the end, our hero learns more about his parents and his own unique relationship with the villain Voldemort, laying the groundwork for the final two volumes of the story.


Phoenix has been called "an extended Bildungsroman" and "Kafka-esque"; while true, such high-falutin' labels diminish the charm of Rowling's world, in which haughty pretensions eventually wither. Yes, it's derivative, with echoes from Star Wars to Joseph Campbell. Yes, as King points out, Rowling never met an adverb or an attributive she didn't like: Harry speaks irritably, quietly, and snidely; or else he snarls, bellows and interjects. And, yes, she sometimes meanders and invents magical creatures solely as plot devices. But after all is said and done - and that's a lot in 870 pages - Rowling spins a rollicking good tale and knows how to keep readers turning all those pages.





Publication date: 08/21/03

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • In Their Best Interest
  • In Their Best Interest

    Why many neglected kids don't have legal representation for critical decisions that could dictate their future
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • 'Right Side of History'
  • 'Right Side of History'

    The Washington Supreme Court rules against Arlene's Flowers; plus, two dogs call it a day
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • Frozen Out
  • Frozen Out

    In the middle of a chaotic winter, the city of Spokane ousted its veteran street director, but won't give an explanation to the city council
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • La Resistance
  • La Resistance

    Michael Moore, Congressional Democrats and local progressives: How they are resisting Donald Trump's agenda
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • Envision This!
  • Envision This!

    DSP is fighting the proposed Worker Bill of Rights; plus, finalists for Spokane's police ombudsman
    • Jul 22, 2015

Comments


Comments are closed.

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Spokane Social Sketch

Spokane Social Sketch @ Boots Bakery & Lounge

Last Sunday of every month, 2-5 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Ann Colford

Most Commented On

  • We Have Not Yet Begun to Fight

    Why we're filling the streets to protest Trump's inhumane, dangerous policies
    • Feb 2, 2017
  • Obscene Gestures

    Spokane political party leaders hope to harness post-election passion into civil discourse. But so far, there's only been more strife
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


green zone


marijuana


Comment


do something


Readers also liked…

  • Shake Down
  • Shake Down

    When an earthquake rocks Western WA, what will happen in the Inland Northwest?
    • Jul 22, 2015
  • Hopeless for Heroin
  • Hopeless for Heroin

    As heroin deaths continue to rise in Washington state, what can a parent do to save a child from the depths of addiction?
    • Jul 29, 2015
  • We Live in Fire
  • We Live in Fire

    Perspectives and unanswered questions as the Northwest burns
    • Aug 26, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation