Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
by J. K. Rowling
Wow. Book 6 was a shocker. I have the usual praise for Rowling’s talent (gift really) of writing. She creates this amazing world filled with people you relate to and feel strongly about. I’m amazed and so happy I decided to read her books. I’m starting to really see how the books are getting darker. I’m so invested in these characters that it’s hard to see them go through difficult things. I really liked the book though and now I’m feeling torn because I want to finish the series, but I know I’ll be sad when I finish and I’m simply not ready to be done.
The end of summer is drawing near and Harry is getting ready to return to school for his 6th year, by way of a visit from Dumbledore. His aunt and uncle reluctantly let him leave with the Headmaster, and Harry is free from them for another year. Dumbledore’s reason for getting Harry is to enlist his help in persuading an ex-professor, Slughorn, to return to Hogwarts. Harry agrees and in the end is able to convince Slughorn to return, though he regrets it a little after learning that Slughorn is rather full of himself and rather fond of Harry. The new year begins filled with old friends and a more malicious Malfoy, whom Harry is convinced is in league with Voldemort (which he is quite right about). Harry is able to pursue being an Auror because Slughorn has replaced Snape as potions professor and Snape has finally reached his goal by becoming the defense of the dark arts professor. Harry is surprised to be a favorite in Slughorn’s class, not only because Slughorn likes him, but because he has a little extra help. His potions book is an old copy that was owned by the “Half-Blood Prince” who happened to excel at potions and had written in many edits, along with his own potions/spells. Those notes allow Harry to rise to the top of the class. Spoilers: He also has the pleasure of taking private lessons from Dumbledore where he learns a lot about Voldemort’s past: from how his parents met, to his father abandoning them, to his mother dying and him being raised in a orphanage until Dumbledore found him and brought him to Hogwarts. His complicated past sheds light on his character – he is a loaner, he delights in torturing others, and he has an insatiable desire to live forever by separating his soul and putting the pieces into different Horcruxes. Meanwhile, Harry is struggling with feelings for Ginny, who is newly single, and Ron and Hermione are flirting with a relationship. After a huge Quidditch match, Ginny and Harry finally kiss and become an official couple (yay . . . I was very happy about this). As Dumbledore and Harry’s lessons continue, Dumbledore tells Harry that he needs to get a particular memory from Professor Slughorn. Harry tries everything to no avail, until one night he takes the felix felicis potion (one he won in potions class thanks to the Half-Blood Prince), and his night is especially lucky, culminating with success in getting the memory. This memory shows that Prof. Slughorn taught Voldemort and in a moment that has brought him eternal guilt, told Voldemort about Horcruxes (and how they divide the soul and hold part of it and can only be performed when someone is murdered). Harry and Dumbledore discuss that Voldemort must have made 6 Horcruxes, keeping the 7th part of his soul in his body. They have already destroyed two (Riddle’s diary, and Marvolo’s ring), but there are 6 more to find and destroy before Voldemort can truly be defeated, and Dumbledore is pretty sure where to find the first one. He takes Harry on a long journey to a secret cave protected by many spells, but Dumbledore is able to pass. They enter the cave and find it holds a vast body of water with a little glowing island in the middle. In the water float dead bodies, but they are able to cross in a boat to reach the island. There is a locket on the island surrounded by a liquid that must be drunk in order to get at it. Dumbledore commands Harry to force him to drink it so they can get the locket (Horcrux). They are successful, but it leaves Dumbledore weak and it’s a struggle to return to Hogwarts. When they finally arrive back, they see that Hogwarts is under attack and run to join the fight between wizards and death eaters. Harry had been afraid of this and had enlisted his friends to keep watch, which helped it from being worse. But Harry and Dumbledore get cornered and ultimately Dumbledore gets betrayed by Snape, who kills him. In the aftermath, Snape (who reveals himself as the Half-Blood Prince) and Malfoy and most of the Death Eaters escape. There is a funeral for Dumbledore and Harry is left with sorrow and many questions, but he is also left with his friends who are supporting him. With resolve, Harry decides to break up with Ginny to keep her out of danger, return to his aunt and uncle’s where he’ll get his last bit of protection, and then plans to drop out of Hogwarts in order to find the rest of the Horcruxes. Harry also learns that the locket they worked so hard to get is a fake. Someone else had gotten the real one and left a decoy. It is with a heavy heart that the 6th book ends.
Summing it up: there was more challenging content in this book, but it was still a phenomenal book!
All the best, Abbey