Published September 1st 2014 by Bloomsbury (first published June 21st 2003)
Author: J. K. Rowling
Genre: Fantasy, fiction, YA/Children’s
Star rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“The hottest day of the summer so far was drawing to a close and a drowsy silence lay over the large, square houses of Privet Drive.”
“You are sharing the Dark Lord’s thoughts and emotions. The Headmaster thinks it inadvisable for this to continue. He wishes me to teach you how to close your mind to the Dark Lord.”
Dark times have come to Hogwarts. After the Dementors’ attack on his cousin Dudley, Harry Potter knows that Voldemort will stop at nothing to find him. There are many who deny the Dark Lord’s return, but Harry is not alone: a secret order gathers at Grimmauld Place to fight against the Dark forces. Harry must allow Professor Snape to teach him how to protect himself from Voldemort’s savage assaults on his mind. But they are growing stronger by the day and Harry is running out of time…
This is where everything gets serious in the Harry Potter series. We’ve just had the end of the Triwizard Tournament which led to Cedric being murdered, and the return of Voldemort. I had no idea what this next book would bring, and it was a struggle to get into it at first, more to do with its size more than the story itself.
The beginning scenes seem so far away, now that I’ve read the whole book, but it all kicks off with a couple of dementors coming to attack Harry when Dudley is with him. One Patronus later, and Harry finds himself in a heap of trouble. And his life doesn’t get much easier from this point forward.
There’s a lot of Harry anger and misery in this book. Although I find him to be quite a dark, brooding character anyway. If you pit him against characters such as Fred and George Weasley, who aim to get the most fun out of any situation they’re in, Harry seems pretty moody all of the time. But we’re in his head too, we’re seeing this world through him most of the time, we’re getting his perspective.
“…he could not stand being himself any more…he had never felt more trapped inside his own head and body, never wished so intensely that he could be somebody, anybody, else…”
Harry is brilliant, but it is this moody nature that stands in his way a lot of the time, and I’m not blaming him. He has a lot on his shoulders at this point, and it doesn’t help that in this book Dumbledore is distancing himself from Harry. All those times Harry has been able to go to Dumbledore at any point seem in the distant past. The most troubling thing this time is the fact that Harry is suffering mental anguish through his dreams and the accompanying pain in his scar.
We also find out what the Order is, and it’s a group of witches and wizards banded together for the cause of fighting against the Death Eaters and Lord Voldemort, and their HQ is Grimmauld Place, home to the Black family. I don’t feel like I got a good sense of this Order overall, because Harry isn’t allowed to join yet, so we get whispers and secret meetings. But eventually, Harry, with the help of Hermione, forms his own kind of order at Hogwarts, the DA (Dumbledore’s Army). This is because of their new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, the awful, and annoying Professor Dolores Umbridge. She is by far my least favourite character in the series so far.
“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike…”
I loved the DA meetings, because it showed Harry really taking control, doing something he knows is worthwhile and that he enjoys and is good at. Yes, it’s a stressful year at Hogwarts, with the O.W.L.s and everything, but these scenes offer some hope and respite from the terrible state that Hogwarts is in. It didn’t really feel like Hogwarts apart from during those scenes, for me anyway.
There’s so much packed into this book that I can’t discuss it all (this seems to be the case with each book I read from this series, but no more so than this one!) but this book was the point when I discovered how different they are to the films, how much better and detailed they are, and how much more I’m getting out of the Wizarding World by reading the books. Like I said, I struggled getting into this one, but once I did, the pages flew by.
And we are introduced to Luna in this book! I really like her and her quirkiness. I also wish I could read The Quibbler.
Link to the book on Goodreads: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix