Every so often I like to re-read one of the Harry Potter books. This time however, I had a number of reasons; to prepare to re-watch the film and to re-read the third novel. As fans will know, the orchestral accompaniment series of film screening at The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre is continuing with Chamber of Secrets next month. I prefer to compare the book and film when I’m watching them and due to the numerous times I’ve watched Chamber of Secrets (one of my favourites) I tend to forget the sometimes subtle differences. As some of you reading this will know, Prisoner of Azkaban has had it’s illustrated edition released. I like to do a reminder before reading any of the later novels, admittedly sometimes with a bit of cheating via Mr Stephen Fry. His audiobooks are easily accessible through the public library app Borrow Box as well.
This is one of my favourites because now that we have been introduced to the characters, there’s a lot more space to play with them. The relationships are building, the rivalries are having some pubescent clashes. There’s some new characters, some less likeable than others, but mostly for comic or plot driving effect. After Harry’s first year at Hogwarts, he’s more confident and happier, so when summer comes, he can’t get away from his horrible aunt and cousin fast enough. His escape is a bit more daring than he expects as he is visited by fan favourite Dobby the house elf, and things go badly with his uncle from there, making the brute lock Harry in his room. This brings in an opportunity for the Weasley boys to break Harry out, with the help of their father’s experimental flying Ford car.
Things seem to be back on the up for our Hero, but things aren’t quite well when the young wizards return to Hogwarts. An evil force is lurking and rumours fly about more than Slytherin House when an old Hogwarts legend seems to have some basis in fact and students are being attacked. Our now proactive protagonist is also under suspicion and will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of the mystery of the Heir of Slytherin and their hidden chamber.
The Book and How it Differs
I consider the books and the films completely different and entirely separate beasts. However most fans, even those who share this perspective, will compare and contrast. It’s important to point out that Director Chris Columbus is a huge fan and of course Steve Kloves’ adaptation is quite a loyal one. There are some edits and changes that work, even though they remove stuff Fandom will winge about til their graves, while others are just a tiny bit better than the original. I’m waiting to be stoned over that comment, but do you honestly own a sock that’s large enough to fit even the tiniest secret diary inside? The point is that the best is made of it, even if we never see Peeves or the Deathday Party (*sigh*) and most of the spells in the Dueling Club do the very same thing. The book is of course better though.
Why I love this Book So Very Much
Although I do have the same penchant for Prisoner of Azkaban every one else has (book 3 and 7 are my favourites), Chamber still has some little place in my heart as being where things were action-packed but not quite getting super dark yet. Harry and his friends do still have to worry about evil wizards and stuff but there is lots of Quidditch, lots of dueling and lots of the ever frightfully cheery Gilderoy Lockhart to poke fun at. We get a little more Harry and Ron bonding time (no spoilers), a beautiful phoenix named Fawkes and an interesting new language spoken by Harry himself.
Harry and his friends begin to become even more realised as 3D characters and this is where the reader can start getting attached. Some of my favourite scenes are those cut from the movie, but all the better to imagine what a Deathday party might look like yourself. Dobby is my very favourite thing about the book however and any time he shows up, even seemingly to annoy Harry, is great. Another great source of enjoyment is seeing what Lockhart will be wearing or saying next, and he really adds that much-needed break from murdering monsters and smug Slytherins.