Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

1Fiction — print. Scholastic, 2005. 652 pgs. Purchased.

Harry Potter has returned to Hogwarts for his sixth year after a side trip to assist Dumbledore in coercing Horace Slughorn to return to Hogwarts as a professor. Slughorn has a habit of surrounding himself with impressive students, and the lure of “collecting” Harry Potter is merely too much for Slughorn to resist despite the fact that Lord Voldemort’s return is an established and accepted fact in the community.

Harry expects that Slughorn will become the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, but to his shock and dismay Slughorn is the new potions master and Severus Snape has taken over the Dark Arts position. The only benefit to this change is that Harry can continue with his plans to become an Auror despite his performance on his OWLs. The class is hard (even for know-it-all Hermione Granger!), but Harry has a secret weapon — a potions textbook previously owned by the Half-Blood Prince.

I am admittedly not the Potterhead that my brother and friends are. I never went to a midnight release party for either the books or the movies. And there was a period in my life where I lost track of this series, missing a book in the craze over the movies and my brother’s right to read the books first. (He, and therefore my mother, went to the midnight release parties so it only made since that he, and therefore my mom, be allowed to read the books before me.) I always thought that it was the fifth book I missed, but upon reading this one I have come to realize that this is the book I missed. Either that or I missed two books, which would be a terrible crime.

Am I the only one who thinks this book serves to be a bridge between the fifth and seventh novels? The information gleamed from this book is crucial for understanding the final battle between Voldemort and Harry, and its ability to sustain suspense around Snape’s loyalties was the source of multiple arguments between myself and my Potterhead friends. There are fascinating aspects of the magical community included in this book — the pensive comes to mind — but I reached the end of this book and couldn’t help but think this book was a bridge that served its purpose but left me feeling like something was missing. Maybe because I’ve believed in Snape’s loyalty to the good side from day one so the major issue of this book could never be an issue for me.

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