Book Review – “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”

Spoiler free version: 36/42. The review below does contain some spoilers; don’t read it until (not unless, but until) you’ve read the novel yourself.

General Information

Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Author: J.K. Rowlings
Original Publication Date: July 21, 2007

ISBN: 1-55192-976-7

Cover Price: $34.99 US, $45 Can

Buy from: Amazon.com or Amazon.ca

Premise

Harry, Ron, and Hermione are hunting for Horcruxes when they learn of three Hallowed objects, purportedly created by Death himself, which grant the owner mastery of death.

High Point

“The Battle For Hogwarts” is my favourite sequence, but the best part of the reading experience was watching as the seemingly insignificant threads laid since the first page of the first book in the series had themselves tied together so effectively.

Low Point

The first half still has a bit too much directionless depression for my tastes. It’s not quite as rampant as in the fifth book, but it’s here. Thankfully, it’s gone from the vast majority of the latter half.

The Scores

The originality of most sequels tend to suffer. This one, however, feels less like a sequel and more like an extension of the larger story, as tends to happen when the whole series is planned as this one was. The important part of this category is that the story never feels stale, and for the most part, it doesn’t. I give it 4 out of 6.


The imagery is clear, filling in new details, and reminding us of the old ones. I never found myself wondering about the appearance of the environments, nor did I find myself pushing through seemingly gratuitous descriptions. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story is solid, bringing together details from not just this book, but from the whole series, and doing so in a consistent way with the rest of the series. (By this, I mean that I was able to predict some elements, such as the seventh Horcrux, and did not feel displeased or put off by the elements that I failed to predict.) I give it 5 out of 6.

The characterization is going strong. Harry, Ron, and Hermione once again take centre stage, but the supporting characters (primarily Voldemort, Fred, George, Ginny, Neville, and even Dudley) also have their moments to shine. I give it 5 out of 6.

The emotional response is great, as this is a very natural and worthwhile way to end the series. There’s a huge amount of payoff here for people who’ve invested themselves in the series. In fact, there’s so much payoff here, that I really don’t see a way to edit it down to a 2.5 hour movie without infuriating every viewer in some way, but we’ll cover that review when we get to it. I give the book 6 out of 6.

The editing was much nicer than it was in the previous two tomes. After a slightly dragging first half, things hit high gear and don’t let up. This pulls in a lot of details from the first six books in a very natural way, and brings it all together nicely. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a great way to end a great series. I give it 6 out of 6.

In total, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows receives 36 out of 42.

23 replies on “Book Review – “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows””

  1. Dr|ft says:

    13 hours
    is how long it took me to read it. in one shot. ;)

    by far the best and an excellent way to end the series imho.

    I hope J.K. Rowling keeps writing, even if it’s not about Harry and his gang.

    • Eldhrin says:

      Re: 13 hours

      is how long it took me to read it. in one shot. ;)

      by far the best and an excellent way to end the series imho.

      I hope J.K. Rowling keeps writing, even if it’s not about Harry and his gang.

      I’m sure she will, but I believe she’s planning to sit back and look after her kids for a bit. I’m sure ideas will be simmering in the back of her mind while she does though, and soon enough she’ll feel compelled to sit down and start writing again. Although she’s rich enough to never have to work again, I’d bet she’s got the writing bug bad enough to never be able to stop now.

      That’s how she comes across in interviews, anyway.

      As for the book… what a way to finish the series! Fantastic stuff. I loved McGonagall leading a squadron of animated desks in a charge, and bringing all the suits of armour to life to defend the castle.

  2. rickyjames says:

    My Eyes Hurt…
    Hooboy, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve read 700+ pages straight thru like that and I’ve got a splitting headache from doing it…

    Overall, a very nice narrative indeed but several places I felt like ole JK wrote herself into an absurd corner and just kept on writing to keep the story going. I’ll remember more examples after a good night’s sleep but one that I remember from the ending was Neville’s token scene….

    Here we are in a war zone on page 696 and Harry tells Neville literally in passing, "oh by the way could you please kill Voldy’s snake" literally saying "if you get a chance". Sure Harry, no prob….

    Um, excuse me? This is a KEY MISSION CRITICAL PLOT POINT that’s gonna have to be taken care of in the next 65 pages if we’re gonna have the big Harry/Voldy showdown. It’s bad enough that JK has Harry go into martyr mode at this point and go practically sleepwalking into the enemy camp setting up for the Hero Death Ruse when HARRY should still be trying to figure out some way to kill Nagini himself at this point….

    But he doesn’t tell Neville ANYTHING about how critical killing Nagini is, or passing on the helpful hint that Neville will need extremely specialized tools like balisk poison or superfire or the Griff Sword to do the job (something Harry has just spent the WHOLE BOOK figuring out for himself), and boy howdy, ain’t it convenient that when Voldy calls the Sorting Hat himself and sets up to torture Neville with it mere minutes later on page 732 that what should come popping out of the Sorting Hat for Neville to use against (the suddenly unshielded and unprotected) Nagini but….the Griff Sword !!!

    Um, deus ex machina so we can wrap this story up, anybody?

    But hey, overall a very, very good fantasy. I enjoyed it.

    • dkichline says:

      Re: My Eyes Hurt…

      Neville will need extremely specialized tools like balisk poison or superfire or the Griff Sword to do the job

      Actually, if I remember correct, in book 6, they talked about how fragile the horecrux is if you put it into a living being. I think at that point, anything could have killed the snake.

  3. chad says:

    Harry Dying, Snapes, etc.
    I’m actually quite glad that she didn’t kill off Harry (at least permanently), but I think the book would’ve been better if he hadn’t come back to life.

    And I agree the high point was the Hogworts battle. The first half of the book was slow and depressing.

    I believed all along that Snape was going to end up being a good guy, although I thought he’d have a bigger part in the ending–his death was somewhat anticlimactic.

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    • fiziko says:

      Re: Harry Dying, Snapes, etc.

      I believed all along that Snape was going to end up being a good guy, although I thought he’d have a bigger part in the ending–his death was somewhat anticlimactic.

      Had you asked me last week, I’d have been right about predicting the seventh Horcrux, but I’d have also predicted an epilogue set in the future (as we got) to reveal Harry as the Hogwarts Headmaster and Snape as the Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher. Oh, well; if I could predict the whole thing correctly, it would have been far less interesting.

      • Gaewyn says:

        Re: Harry Dying, Snapes, etc.

        Had you asked me last week, I’d have been right about predicting the seventh Horcrux, but I’d have also predicted an epilogue set in the future (as we got) to reveal Harry as the Hogwarts Headmaster and Snape as the Defense Against The Dark Arts teacher. Oh, well; if I could predict the whole thing correctly, it would have been far less interesting.

        Last week I would have been hopping mad at her for not telling us what they all did when they grew up… but after reading the book and seeing the ending I was glad that, aside from Neville, she just focused on the people and how they remember the people lost in the fight. After having that prediction laying on Harry’s head and driving his life it was nice of her to just leave it open.

        It was also nice for her to use the future blip to show us that because of all the sacrifices Harry and his friends could send their children/godchildren off to school without having to worry about them being in any more danger than standard school mischief.

        I do wonder though if Harry sent the cape with Albus….. *evil grin*

  4. Trekkie says:

    Sure Took a Scythe to the Characters
    She certainly did a job on most of the characters and killing many of them off. Was not overly surprised at any of the deaths but still they certainly took a few out.

    I found the ending to be rather anti-climatic. I’m sure the hype engine did some of that to me. My daughter is just about to turn six and I’m thinking I need to sit down with her each night and start at the beginning now and read her the story to see what she thinks. Would be fun to share it through her ears/eyes.

    Overall a good series. I sat down Saturday morning after it arrived in the mail and read it through by 11PM that day. My wife is starting it but having to chase our kids around I don’t think she’s going to get the opportunity to burn through it like I did.

    I honestly thought Ron or Hermione should bite it earlier in the book, I thought it’d continue the trend of everything Harry cared for being stripped away. The LOTR parallels with the locket vs ‘the one ring’ of LOTR causing despair was pretty out of place and Ron going off the deep end about it was just as odd.

    Over all, it’s not my favorite, but its not the worst of them. I’m still not a fan of the chamber of secrets, it felt out of place compared to the others and I still think Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite. It may have something to do with the father/son dynamic of him discovering the makers of the Marauder’s Map and how much that affected me personally the first time I read it. I was very disappointed that one tidbit was left out of the movie adaptation.

    I’ve only read each one once, so they deserve another read especially after seeing the movie versions. Need to get out and see order of the phoenix, hopefully soon.

    • Trekkie says:

      Re: Sure Took a Scythe to the Characters
      oh one more thing.

      did I miss it, but other than her locket being stolen did *nothing* happen to Umbridge in the book? She needed a house dropped on her or something.

    • chad says:

      Re: Sure Took a Scythe to the Characters

      The LOTR parallels with the locket vs ‘the one ring’ of LOTR causing despair was pretty out of place and Ron going off the deep end about it was just as odd.

      Me, I’m wondering why it was necessary to wear the locket, versus putting it in that special pouch Harry had or even in the magical bag that Hermione had.

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      • Damien says:

        Re: Sure Took a Scythe to the Characters

        Me, I’m wondering why it was necessary to wear the locket, versus putting it in that special pouch Harry had or even in the magical bag that Hermione had.

        I think it was security – they wanted to make absolutely sure that they had it at hand at all times, and the best way of doing that was to wear it.

        Damien

  5. Nickvotrobeck says:

    ~12 hours
    Some of my high points were Neville killing the snake, Albus Severus, and Kreacher leading the Charge of the House-Elves. I didn’t see Neville pulling the sword as deus ex machina because she had set it up pretty well. He did it pretty much the same way as Harry did in Chamber of Secrets, and both Dumbledore and, in this book, Scrimgeour said that any Gryffindor had access to it.

    My low points were when she contradicted previous books. The Hallow Cloak is supposed to be impenetrable, and in this book it blocks and resists spells, but in previous books Dumbledore and Mad-Eye were able to penetrate it.
    In this book the Trace would alert the Ministry if an underage wizard performed magic outside of school no matter where s/he was, but in Half Blood Prince it’s stated that underage use cannot be detected in wizarding homes and that parents are expected to enforce the law with their children. If the Trace were in effect this whole time the ministry would have known that it was not Harry who performed the Hover Charm in book 2.

    • Radish03 says:

      Re: ~12 hours

      My low points were when she contradicted previous books. The Hallow Cloak is supposed to be impenetrable, and in this book it blocks and resists spells, but in previous books Dumbledore and Mad-Eye were able to penetrate it.
      In this book the Trace would alert the Ministry if an underage wizard performed magic outside of school no matter where s/he was, but in Half Blood Prince it’s stated that underage use cannot be detected in wizarding homes and that parents are expected to enforce the law with their children. If the Trace were in effect this whole time the ministry would have known that it was not Harry who performed the Hover Charm in book 2.

      On the cloak, is it actually shown anywhere in the book to be impenetrable? I don’t really recall. We’re told it was unlikely Death actually created the Hallows, so perhaps the cloak isn’t as powerful as the myth suggests it is.

      On the Trace, perhaps its scope can be adjusted, as the need requires, to allow for a more strict watching of underage wizards. Like the Taboo on Voldemort’s name, the Ministry could have just been alerted to all uses of underage magic.

      As for my high points, the only thing that’s sticking in my mind is the final battle, after Neville kills the snake, in particular Mrs. Weasley’s reaction to Bellatrix ("NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!"). It was so unexpected, and stood out right at the top of a page, I burst out laughing as I read it.

      • Nickvotrobeck says:

        Re: ~12 hours

        As for my high points, the only thing that’s sticking in my mind is the final battle, after Neville kills the snake, in particular Mrs. Weasley’s reaction to Bellatrix ("NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!"). It was so unexpected, and stood out right at the top of a page, I burst out laughing as I read it.

        I thought that part was excellent as well. I assume I’m not the only one who flashed to "Aliens" right there.

      • Trekkie says:

        Re: ~12 hours

        in particular Mrs. Weasley’s reaction to Bellatrix ("NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!"). It was so unexpected, and stood out right at the top of a page, I burst out laughing as I read it.

        Glad I wasn’t the only one who giggled at that. Reminded me of one of my favorite Star Trek novels ‘Q-In-Law’ where Q gives Luxwanna Troi Q powers after he marries her, and then she finds out it is a joke, and chases him all over the ship kicking his ass while reciting her little speech about her being the keeper of the holy rigns and what not. Peter David sure can write some funny stuff.

  6. Damien says:

    Great, but..
    I thought this was a great book overall, with a few quibbles:

    * The first half seriously dragged, it felt like she wanted to make the book’s contents span a year, rather than specifically the story taking that long.

    * Some characters needed further closure: Umbridge (really, really, really, really, really wanted to see her pay, a lot), Mad-Eye Moody (there was a little doubt on him that should have been emphasised a little more after the door was found).

    * Would have liked more details post-ending, I guess it’s left to your own imagination.

    * Didn’t like the bank part, after everything he’s been through Harry should have handled that better, specifically the "honesty" element.

    A few things I did really like:

    * Harry defending Prof McGonnagle. "But he spat at you!"

    * Chapter 34. Boom boom boom.

    * Harry’s willingness to allow Voldemort to repent.

    * The house elves at the end.

    * The way they took care of Dobbie.

    * The Draco family’s repentence, though it was subtly done.

    * The Half-Blood Prince’s story. You were wondering until the very, very end.

    * Percy, had been wondering for a while.

    All-in-all a wonderful book, and a fantastic series. Definitely a series we’ll be keeping around to read with our kids, when they’re old enough.

    Damien

    • Fez says:

      Re: Great, but..

      I thought this was a great book overall, with a few quibbles:

      * Didn’t like the bank part, after everything he’s been through Harry should have handled that better, specifically the "honesty" element.

      I had wondered at the bank if Dumbledore had willed the "fake" sword to Harry, knowing that it would be put in high protection. Since there was something of his own in the Vault, it technically wouldn’t have been breaking in, though taking the cup would be.

      If Dumbledore had conspired with Snape to get the sword to Harry later on, why had he bothered with the Will? Was that just "Plan A"?

      • paulm says:

        Re: Great, but..

        If Dumbledore had conspired with Snape to get the sword to Harry later on, why had he bothered with the Will? Was that just "Plan A"?

        Probably just so Harry knew it was important and had time to work out why before he got it.

        The person who got the sword had to get it by doing something heroic for it to work. If it had just been handed to Harry it wouldn’t have been sufficient so the will wouldn’t have worked as a "plan A".

    • Trekkie says:

      Re: Great, but..

      * Some characters needed further closure: Umbridge (really, really, really, really, really wanted to see her pay, a lot)

      No Doubt, I’ve never seen someone more deserving of the penalty of law. I wanted her to DIAF or something, especially after the number of good guys getting wiped out at that point along with the Nazi persecution running through my head as I read about this looking for pure blood stuff.

  7. mjcohen says:

    Use of wands and spells
    I expected some magic to be done without any wands. It was already been established that this could be done (Riddle when young, Harry at home, others).

    Also, how come some battles do not have any spells being cast, just wands blasting (i.e., the DD-V battle in the movie of OOTP)?

    Also^2, why is "Stupify!" in English and most other spells in almost-Latin?

    I enjoyed the movie and the book. It will be interesting to see the film version of the battle of Hogwarts.

    • dkichline says:

      Re: Use of wands and spells

      Also, how come some battles do not have any spells being cast, just wands blasting (i.e., the DD-V battle in the movie of OOTP)?

      Remember, she established that spells could be cast non-verbally. So who knows if they were just casting non-verbal spells, so as to not tip off the opponent of what they were casting.

  8. jbrecken says:

    one disappointment
    None of those cousins in the Epilogue was named after dead Uncle Fred.

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