Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
by J. K. Rowling
Well, this is my favorite Harry Potter book thus far (and therefore, in my opinion, Rowling’s best book so far). I loved it! I loved joining up with the characters again and I loved the plot and the twist at the end . . .I did not see it coming. I also love how easy it is to get caught up in Rowling’s writing and just get fully absorbed.
We find Harry once again miserable at his aunt and uncle’s. Another horrible aunt comes to stay with the Dursley’s and she gets Harry to his boiling point: she insults his parents and Harry explodes, causing her to expand into a balloon! Harry makes a mad dash out of the home, planing to run away because he’s afraid he will be expelled from Hogwarts for performing magic at home. He gets discovered, naturally, and learns he’s not getting expelled, but can return to Hogwarts, no problem. This year, Hermione is taking a double course load, and has acquired a cat, Crookshanks, who is obsessed with chasing Ron’s rat, Scabbers. Harry and Ron are occupied with the usual course load and Harry is focused on doing well in Quidditch. On top of this, a horrible criminal named Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban and is on the loose trying to kill Harry. As a result, Hogwarts is being guarded by the guards of Azkaban: the Dementors, who suck any happy feeling away from you and leave you despondent. Spoilers: Harry is given a magical map from Fred and George so he can travel a secret tunnel to spend the day in Hogsmead (he didn’t get permission, so he couldn’t go honestly). He gets away with it the first time, but almost gets caught the second. Then, one night Harry, Ron and Hermione visit Hagrid secretly because Hagrid is about to watch one of his pets die (Hagrid had been teaching a class and the animal scratched Malfoy because he wasn’t following directions, and then Malfoy turned it into a huge problem, resulting in the animal sentenced to death). The three of them are trying to comfort Hagrid and leave just in time to avoid getting caught. However, on their way back, they see a giant black dog in the forest and he catches Ron and drags him to a secret passage (one of the ones on the map Harry was given). Harry and Hermione follow and finally catch up with Ron in a deserted house in Hogsmead. Ron’s leg is broken and the dog is none other than Sirius Black! After a confrontation, they learn that Sirius Black is not a murderer. He was framed by another wizard, Pettigrew, who transformed into a rat and went into hiding as Scabbers. Black is in fact Harry’s godfather and was a true friend to Harry’s parents. Harry also learns that Pettigrew, Black, Harry’s father, and their new professor Lupin, are all Animagi (people who can turn into animals). In the end, they believe Black, but get caught by Snape who brings them all back to Hogwarts while Pettigrew escapes as Scabbers. That’s when Dumbledore steps in and gives Harry and Hermione a clue so that they can save Black (who will receive the Dementor’s Kiss – i.e. get his very soul sucked out of him) and keep Hagrid’s pet from being killed. Hermione then shares how she’s been taking so many classes: she has magic to go back in time. She and Harry go back in time and save Hagrid’s pet and then use him to free Black before returning to their beds and acting like nothing happened. Before Harry leaves school for the summer, he gets an owl and a message from his godfather telling him that he is well, giving Harry permission to go to Hogsmead, and gifting Ron the owl. He also shares that the amazing new broomstick Harry received earlier is from him! It was the perfect ending.
Summing it up: I loved this one and definitely recommend the series so far!
All the best, Abbey