Final ”Potter” book: ”Stunningly beautiful”
So it’s finally here.
And yet, when I picked it up, and felt its sheer heft, and looked at the familiar, gorgeous jacket, I felt a curious combination of excitement and regret. I’d been waiting for this moment for so long — years, in fact, all the years since I first finished Book One — and yet I almost didn’t want the experience to be over, didn’t want to know the outcome. Once I opened the book, though, and fastened my eyes on the familiar, beloved type of the first page, it was as if I’d been Imperiused. I literally couldn’t stop reading. I didn’t get up to eat breakfast. I didn’t take the dogs out. I just sat, curled up in my study chair, a glorious blue and gold Saturday morning blazing outside the window, and I read. I stopped a few times, forcing myself to go more slowly, wanting to savor the plot, but before long I was galloping along once more, flipping the pages in a blur.
The series has always, of course, been more than a coming-of-age story; it has been an adventure tale, and I think I can say, without giving anything away, that Hallows is the most hair-raising one of them all. I read many chapters with my heart in my throat, whimpering ”Oh, no!” aloud (until my two children, also reading the book, yelled at me, ”Mom! You have to stay quiet — you might give something away!”). But there’s more than sheer adventure here. Some scenes in the earlier books packed an enormous emotional wallop — Harry’s fight with Voldemort in the graveyard; Dumbledore’s funeral — but they were few and far between; in Hallows, they seem to come every few pages, especially at the end. I wasn’t just riveted as I read — I was also overcome.
What can I say, without giving away anything? I’m amazed, when I sit back, at the sheer, immensely complicated arc of the story; Rowling has always said she had the entire seven-book series plotted out from the very beginning, and it’s clear she did. I’m stunned at the way she managed to tie up so many of the plot strands, even while weaving in new ones (and while introducing new characters too, albeit no one very important). Having just reread the first six books, I now realize how many small clues were strewn throughout (and how few I managed to pick up). Yet despite the complicated plots and subplots, despite the effortless allusions to mythology and classic tales (anyone else think Harry is a little like King Arthur, and Dumbledore like Merlin?), Rowling winds up her tale with a stunningly beautiful simplicity. As an added flourish, she gilds it with a moving epilogue, one that brought tears to my eyes.
I know Rowling wrote this series for kids, but I think I can say I have loved and cherished it as much as any kid. I think I can also say these books are going to be on my grandchildren’s shelves, and my great-grandchildren’s, and maybe even further down the line than that. I think these books are that important, and that great. Watching Harry grow from a boy to a man has, for me, been a joy — and a privilege.