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MirrorMask (children's edition)
Neil Gaiman
The Unreal and the Real: Selected Stories, Volume One: Where on Earth
Ursula K. Le Guin
Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown
Maud Hart Lovelace
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Oscar Wilde, Camille Cauti
Riders of the Purple Sage
Zane Grey
Vampires, Zombies, & Wanton Souls
Marge Simon
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré I thought (hoped?) that [b:Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix|2|Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter, #5)|J.K. Rowling|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327625733s/2.jpg|2809203] would be the nadir for my emotions during the series. I thought wrong. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince makes the previous book seem giddy by comparison. Murder is no longer something that happened in a dark past, or accidentally when a stunned wizard falls beyond the veil, or might happen if the Dark Lord returns at an uncertain future point. In Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts, darkness has arrived fully. Taboo curses and hexes are thrown about recklessly. Even Harry and Hermione use confounding or harming curses to get what they want. Power, even killing power, is intoxicating in the adult world Hogwarts students are being forced to enter earlier and earlier.

In the midst of this increasingly evident evil, Rowling gives plenty of room for love, shared suffering, and an almost pastoral sense of binding deep emotional wounds. Slughorn's prayer at Aragog's graveside is beautiful, healing for Hagrid, and, it's spider-king focus aside, could be straight out of the Book of Common Prayer. Rowling's depiction of grief's unpredictable and nonlinear path rings very true for me as a pastor, former chaplain, and visitor of the sick. And I am very glad that no one--not Harry, Neville, Tonks, Hagrid, Mrs. Weasley, and on--have to face sorrow and fear alone.

Typically, I like a little uncertainty mixed into my stories. Some doubt as to whether or not good will triumph over evil makes for interesting reads. Harry Potter's different for me, though. I want to know that Dumbledore's loving vision will win out over Voldemort's purist-racist hogwash. Maybe it's that kids are the main protagonists and the unfathomable massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School just happened. Maybe it's a spiritual yearning for Easter/resurrection over Good Friday/death. Or maybe it's Rowling's knack for creating lovable characters. Whatever the mixture of reasons, I need the good and true to triumph here. A brief moratorium on Lovecraftian pessimistic universes, I think. Let's see what powering through [b:Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows|136251|Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter, #7)|J.K. Rowling|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1333219787s/136251.jpg|2963218] does for a case of the existential blues.