So, today's going to be the day I finally finish Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Hooray! Two books in two months, jeez. You want some reading notes about the Potter experience, help keep me distracted while I try not to kill this little girl who won't PUT STUFF THE HELL DOWN ALREADY? Sure you do.
- A point about werewolves. People keep going on about there being werewolves in the Forbidden Forest, yes? And Tom Riddle mentions that Hagrid tried to raise werewolf cubs under his bed at school, yes? But SURELY a werewolf is a human except for at the full moon? Would it be different if, say, two werewolves mated and had a baby - a werewolf born, not made?
- When you think about it, the fact that the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets is in Myrtle's bathroom could have killed all three of the Golden Trio. They were pretty lucky not to have been Basilisked when the attacks were at their most frequent... right when they were spending long hours in that very bathroom brewing Polyjuice Potion.
- HERMIONE RIPPED A LIBRARY BOOK. Y'know, it was a basilisk, pipes, etc etc. Torn from an old library book. Let's just take a moment and reflect on that, shall we?
- Right, this whole Myrtle thing. So, Dumbledore was a Transfiguration teacher when she died, right? And he's been at the school ever since, where PRESUMABLY, he is aware that she is one of the school ghosts. Did no one ever think to ask her how she died, given that she is the only 'eyewitness' to have seen the monster in any capacity? I mean, they might not have actually been able to get into the Chamber without speaking Parseltongue, but the sink clue and the tiny snake would at least pointed to its location.
- "Her skeleton will lie in the Chamber forever." I think this was one of the single freakiest moments in the series, meself. Properly shudder-inducing! Poor Ginny... :(
Okay, we'll continue with the Potter discussion later. Too many unpleasant people have suddenly arrived, hissing at each other, grumbling, letting their kids run riot and pick everything up... It's like, you WANT to keep an eye on them so stuff doesn't get wrecked due to parental negligence, but at the same time you really DON'T want to keep an eye on them because it just makes your blood pressure rocket, y'know? If you're not LOOKING you can pretend that there aren't books being thrown around the children's section, and that £25 journals aren't being crammed back into their stand in such a way that you'll have to go and rescue them the second the brats move away so that they're still in one piece when a customer actually wants to buy one. Then you can just deal with it all at the end in five minutes, instead of being angry for twenty minutes first. Gawd, I love half term.
You know the one thing I love better than a small child who can't behave himself? A small child who can't behave himself with a father who thinks he's still the same age. Making jokes about your kid being 'light-fingered', calling him 'Fagin' with a laugh, and asking if you have a section for 'men who never grew up' is NOT the way to endear yourself to any shopkeeper... ever. Fortunately I escaped the man with the Peter Pan complex and his vile child by booting Mum out of the office again for a well-timed lunch break. Nothing like a little 'sandwich and Harry Potter' break to calm things right down... And speaking of Harry Potter, are you ready for some more reading notes? Sure y'are!
- Given that two messages have been daubed outside Myrtle's bathroom, and given her glaring link to the Chamber (as I mentioned earlier), wouldn't anyone have thought to hunt there in earnest? I know, I know, there would be no story if these things happened, but it doesn't stop me occasionally wanting to bang all their heads against a collective wall! I think I've been reading along with the readalong too much recently... ;)
- WHY, on finding out that Ginny has been taken, did Harry and Ron choose to go to Lockhart rather than McGonagall? They were in the closet, they heard how derogatory she was about him, and they already knew he was rubbish!
- I'm not sure the line between Harry and Lockhart is any clearer than the moment before they go down that pipe. Lockhart's thinking of himself and - presumably - still trying to work out how to escape with his reputation intact. Harry's thinking of Ginny and how he might be able to save her life if he hurries.
- I love how in the book, some real Voldemort-ish traits are already apparent in Riddle even before the reveal. That "high, cold laugh" that "made the hairs stand up on the back of Harry's neck"? That's almost his signature, right from Harry's first hazy memories of the night his parents died. The "odd red gleam" in his eyes? He had that same red gleam when Harry encountered him via Quirrell in The Philosopher's Stone...
Aaaaand back to work. Isn't this fun? When I mention these things to Mum she's like "Ellie, it's not real, get a grip," whereas when I talk about them on here people are like "OH YEAH LET'S DISCUSS MINOR PLOT DETAILS AT LENGTH!" I love the blogosphere, I really do. Besides, anything that gets me through half term in one piece has GOT to be a winner... :)
Ohhhh, it's good to be home and relaxed after a weekend at work. I had a nice hot shower and then tripped downstairs to make coffee just in time to walk away with a plate of bacon, fried eggs, hash browns, a fried mushroom AND baked beans, all cooked and plated up by someone else. OH MY GOD YES. It almost makes working all weekend okay when you know you have such deliciousness waiting for you at the end of it... :)
I've aaaaalmost finished The Chamber of Secrets now, after a slight sideways veer into Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe on YouTube (again) and a chat with my sister... With that in mind, and given that I'm probably not going to watch the movie until tomorrow night or my Tuesday off, here's my penultimate batch of thoughts on the book:
- THIS. THIS, YOU GUYS. "'Voldemort', said Riddle softly, 'is my past, present and future, Harry Potter...'" I still remember the first time I saw TOM MARVOLO RIDDLE daubed across the page, and underneath it, I AM LORD VOLDEMORT in bleak capitals. I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach. Talk about playing a blinder - I did not see that coming and it totally knocked me for six. Well played Jo, well played indeed...
- When Fawkes arrived to aid Harry, singing his beautiful eerie song, all I could think was: "I can think of one other time when you'll sing like that, Fawkes, and I'll be sobbing... and then you'll disappear." OH BOOK SIX, YOU'RE GIVING ME FEELS ALREADY!
- I think the whole scene in the Chamber is so well written. The pillars carved with snakes, the basilisk skin and animal bones in the tunnels, the giant statue of Slytherin, the gruesome splatters of blood as Fawkes blinds the serpent, Riddle's malevolence, Harry's defence of Dumbledore... it's just brilliant.
- I love the scene in McGonagall's office when the group emerge from the bathroom. The image of them all standing in the doorway, splattered and dirty, while McGonagall hyperventilates and Dumbledore twinkles and the Weasleys are reunited with Ginny, is wonderful. I wish they'd included it in the film really, because it works so well to round off the events in the Chamber.
- I've wondered in the past about how apparent poster-child Tom Riddle physically became Lord Voldemort, so completely and utterly
noselessdifferent, and the scene in McGonagall's office finally answers this. Thank you, long-delayed reread! Dumbledore tells the group how Riddle left school, travelled extensively, fell in with other dark witches and wizards, and "underwent so many dangerous, magical transformations, that when he resurfaced as Lord Voldemort, he was barely recognisable." Ohhhhhhh. FINALLY MY CURIOSITY IS SATED.
- Yes, I did snort a tiny bit when Mr Weasley tells Ginny: "Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain." Fast forward a few years, girl, and those will STILL be wise words to remember. If you get my drift.
Right, I'll just go finish the book then, shall I? About bloody time, I reckon! :)
Weeeeee are the chaaaaampions my frieeeeeends... I'VE FINISHED IT! Only my second book of the year, which is pretty pathetic for a book fiend, but it feels like a big achievement at this point!
Here are my last few notes and thoughts, then, before I get in bed with a cuppa and wind down for the night!
- Dumbledore is SO FRICKIN' NICE to Ginny, he's like Santa or something. His advice is so very relatable and grandfatherly too. "'Bed rest and perhaps a large, steaming mug of hot chocolate. I always find that cheers me up,' he added, twinkling kindly down at her." The man's a walking Werthers Original advert, only, like, way more awesome.
- "'Voldemort put a bit of himself in me?' Harry said, thunderstruck." I CALL HORCRUX. And immense all-the-way-to-the-end-of-book-seven foreshadowing. And other such goosebump-inducing re-readerly 'OMG how didn't I notice that before?!' sentiments.
- Aaaah, the Lucius-Dumbledore showdown. Dumbledore kind of explains why Malfoy targeted the Weasleys, which I appreciated. The whole My Lovely Muggle Act/Oops My Daughter Attacked Muggle-Borns angle isn't really covered in the film I don't think, and it makes more sense than a simple "Me and Arthur hate each other" kind of grievance. Malfoy's too political for that. Can I also just say that I LOVE how Dumbledore is so mild-mannered yet so utterly devastating when he's revealing how much he knows. I want to to be just like Dumbledore when I grow up, because that is some fine skill to have...
- YAY DOBBY! I think maybe the "Dobby is free!" moment is even lovelier in the book, AND you get more of a sense of the 'powerful magic' that the house elves have. Blasting Malfoy down the stairs and stopping him touching Harry with a mere threat? OH HEEEEELL TO THE YEAH.
- "You solved it! You solved it!" Sorry
Library Book KillerHermione, WHO solved it? Who realised what was happening and tracked down the information and wrote down the extra clue before she got Petrified? Harry and Ron didn't solve the puzzle, they just read a piece of paper really well. Though I guess they did put two and two together and make Oh Look A Snake On A Tap, so I guess we should give them that much.
- One more time - I love Fred and George. And I love that Ginny just handed them material to torture Percy aaaaaaall summer and was innocent enough to think they wouldn't use it. "'Wouldn't dream of it,' said Fred, who was looking as if his birthday had come early. 'Definitely not,' said George, sniggering." Oh, to be a fly on the wall at The Burrow all holiday long...
On that jubilant note, I'm going to sign off for the night - and for the week, in fact - and go drink tea and think about what to finish reading next and maybe watch telly and eat a biscuit. Sounds good to me...