Project Potter Part One: The Magic Begins

OK, so since Marcus (my laptop) ate the first draft of the review I had for y’all, here’s take two.

Here’s my intro post for this series: I Solemnly Swear I Am Up To No Good.

Okay. It’s been a while since I read the series, although with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone the time frame’s much shorter because I did my thesis on it. Which was fun, in its way, but as Lit students know, the quickest way to ruin the joy of something is to have to study it. So in a way this is really the first time in years that I’m rereading the books.

It feels a little silly to put a spoiler warning on a book that’s been out thirteen years, but just in case any of the people reading this post have been living under a rock the past decade and a half- there will be SPOILERS for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in this review. Please proceed with caution.

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I solemnly swear I am up to no good…


(Please note that this post contains SPOILERS for the first Deathly Hallows film. Proceed with caution!)

So J.K. Rowling’s recent announcement sent me off on a little trip down memory lane, about what HP fandom has meant to me… and a little project I’ve got planned for this summer.

Thirteen years ago, the British Council was a very different place. The childrens’ book section was a cozy little nook tucked away in one corner, with kid-size furniture and brightly coloured walls. It was one of my favourite places, and every week or so I begged my mother to take me there so I could pick up another of my beloved Enid Blytons or Roald Dahls.

On one of those trips I stumbled on an unassuming little book tucked away in a bottom shelf; it was a book by an author I’d never read before, with an old-fashioned steam train on the front and a man in a funny-looking suit on the back. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the cover said. Time was running out and someone had already checked out the copy of Roald Dahl’s Matilda I wanted, so I decided to give this book a try. What could it hurt?

To this day, I’m grateful to whoever it was that took out that last copy of Matilda. Because once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. I read the book, then I read it again. And again. And again, unto the point where my mother bought me my own copy just so I wouldn’t keep checking it out of the library. A copy that is currently being held together by cello tape and prayers on account of how many times I read it. As they say in Tamil, padichu padichu kizhichen, literally.

And so began an obsession that spanned the better part of my adolescence. I bought every single book on the first day and devoured it post-haste. I spent hours debating the smallest minutiae with my equally Potter-obsessed friends. I read (and wrote) reams of fan fiction, both good and bad. I watched the movies and spent hours dissecting them (or trashing them, depending.) I scoured the internet for news, spoilers, anything to do with my beloved Harry.

At least, that’s how it was until book five. And then with book six, I don’t know. The magic just… disappeared. I read it, but only once, and it’s stayed on my bookshelf ever since. Ditto the seventh, which I only bought out of some kind of fannish devotion; I haven’t actually read it more than once. A far cry from my more involved days in fandom; my first three HP books have been cellotaped to within an inch of their lives, and the fourth had to be rebound because I cracked the binding from having read it so much. Five is in okay shape; six and seven look like I bought them yesterday.

And so life went on; I found other fandoms, other things to fangirl over. DC Comics, Superman, Batman, Numb3rs, White Collar. I made friends, read fanfic, obsessed over the canon. And I figured my love for Harry Potter was like a first crush; all-consuming passion that fades away into sweet memories over time.

But then a funny thing happened. I got talked into a midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. And I went. And everything came flooding back. Why I loved this world, these characters. I gasped when the Death Eaters attacked Bill and Fleur’s wedding, bit my lip when the Trio snuck into the Ministry, cried when Dobby died. And just like that, it was like I was nine and discovering a whole new world.

Of course, grad school meant I only had time for the odd bit of HP fanfiction; for another, doing your Master’s thesis on Harry Potter means the last thing you want to see after the damned thing is done is your source material.

But now that I’ve had sufficient time to recover, I’m taking on a project I meant to start months ago: rereading the Harry Potter series. I’m excited; it’s going to be fun reading some of my favourite books with a more adult perspective; not to mention that it should get me good and excited for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which releases next month.

I’m going to be reviewing each book as I go. Hopefully going back to the source material will remind me of just why I love these books so much, and help me enjoy fandom as much as I once did.