Josh’s Harry Potter (Re)reading Adventure: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”

I’ve been thinking about this review for about a week and a half now, and despite really loving this book and loving to talk about Harry Potter, I don’t really have a whole lot to say. I’ll try to cover the major talking points that anyone discussing Deathly Hallows, but I’m mostly alright to just sit back, love on this book, and enjoy the ending of the greatest narrative of my generation. (And I know how I broke the cover picture pattern, but how could I not go with this one?)

I love the beginning of this book, from the seven-way split of the dedication to the Snape opening, it perfectly captures how epic this story has been/is. Rowling has so much narrative momentum going into this book, and the opening capitalizes on that majorly. We’re immediately forced to consider our feelings on Snape (side tangent: did anyone else get one of those “Trust Snape” or “Don’t Trust Snape” stickers before the seventh book came out? My sticker is probably my second or third most prized position ever. That includes my health.), and the Seven Potters is such an incredible way to manifest the danger/tension of Voldemort’s newfound presence (brought about by Dumbledore’s death). Even the oddly touching goodbye scene between Harry and Dudley cashes in on six books of narrative capital.

One of the things I really like about this book is the relative absence of a Harry/Ginny relationship. If you read my last review, you’d know that I’m totally a Harry/Ginny fan, but I like that Rowling doesn’t place the focus on that relationship; instead, so much of this book (including the tenting session that everyone likes to complain about despite its relative brevity) is focused on the relationship between our three heroes. I like that the (kind of) recent romantic relationship between Harry and Ginny doesn’t supplant the friendship between Harry/Ron/Hermione. It feels right.

I alluded to it in my last review, but one of the frustrating things about this book (really, the only frustrating thing) is the sense in which Dumbledore is still pretty in control of the game. The death of Dumbledore, our safety blanket, in the last book gives us the sense of despair and fear that so many of our characters are feeling, but it turns out that whole thing was an illusion, that Dumbledore was playing the long long game. I don’t think it ruins the book or destroys any of the emotional resonance (of which there is a ton), but it is a bit disappointing, like finding out that things couldn’t ever be any other way.

Of course, without Dumbledore’s long game, we don’t have the Snape narrative or the reveal, and this book would be so much less without The Prince’s Tale. I have a friend who says that Severus Snape is the very definition of a tragic character, and I absolutely agree. The story of unrequited love certainly didn’t originate here, but Rowling takes a traditional narrative and personalizes it with her characters and her world.

Finally, the epilogue. I know all of you epilogue haters probably won’t be convinced, but I really like the way Rowling chose to end her series. We don’t get anything (seriously, nothing) in the epilogue that we couldn’t easily figure out from the rest of the narrative. The purpose of the epilogue, for me, is a sense of emotional closure for these characters with whom we’ve journeyed for so long, and there’s no way that’s a bad thing. I love seeing Harry be a dad, I love seeing Snape’s namesake and knowing that the Prince’s tale didn’t go unappreciated, and I love knowing that all was well.

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