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MatthewHunter

MatthewHunter

Currently reading

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 Sorcerer's Stone  - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré Fantastic! Sure, I have a problem with black-and-white depictions of evil. Between Draco Malfoy, Snape, the Dursley's and Voldemort, there's plenty of fire and brimstone-worthy characters to go around. A strong tie between appearance, name, and a perceived "goodness" remains. Who wouldn't assume that people and houses named Draco Malfoy, Snape, Crabbe, Goyle, and Slytherin weren't iffy or villainous? Why wouldn't Snape, with his dark appearance and hooked nose, be viewed with suspicion, fear and loathing? Rowling does let some grayness into the mix as the story progresses, but some stereotypes do remain intact.

My issues with a simplistic depiction of good and evil aside, Rowling spins an entertaining, lush, and imaginative tale. Such great world-building! The descriptions of meals in the main hall made my mouth water. I really want to hang out on Diagon Alley. I'd be willing to overlook excessive fees to keep my money at Gringotts Wizarding Bank. I'd risk triggering my gag reflex to try Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. I want an owl messenger. And my kingdom to catch a train at Platform 9-3/4!

Rowling uses humor and heartstring tugs well. I was genuinely touched by Harry's mirror-aided encounter with his family. Personally, I can't imagine never having known my own mother, father and brother. Then there's the playfully disrespectful exchange between the Weasley twins and their mother at Platform 9-3/4:

"Fred, you next," the plump woman said.
"I'm not Fred, I'm George," said the boy. "Honestly, woman, you call yourself our mother? Can't you tell I'm George?"
"Sorry, George, dear."
"Only joking, I am Fred," said the boy, and off he went.


Dialogue, world-building, characters. You name it, Rowling nails it. I can't wait to move on through the Harry Potter series. And while I'm at it, I can't wait till the day arrives when women like Jo Rowling don't feel pressure to disguise their gender through using ititials or masculine nom de plumes. Jo, Mary Anne Evans (aka George Eliot), and plenty of others deserve better.