There are many reasons to love Harry Potter…
- The characters
- The friendships
- The magic
- The worldbuilding
- The adventure
- The triumph of good over evil
All of that is great. Truly, it is. But all of those things do not make the Harry Potter series my favorite books of all times. What does that?
I have read (mostly listened to) the Harry Potter series many, MANY times, and every time I do, I discover new details. Seriously, the planning that went into writing this series is insane. It’s clear that it was meant to be a 7 book series from the start. There are things revealed books earlier that must have been planned.
Sure, there are a few inconsistencies. (i.e. Why couldn’t Harry always see thestrals? He saw his mother die.) But overall, J.K. Rowling blows me away! Her story telling is unmatched.
In August, I listened to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for what has to be the 10th time (or so). This book is one of my favorites because there is so much information revealed – about the Order of the Phoenix, about Harry’s father and his friends, about Severus Snape, and about Voldermort.
Example #1: Dementors
One of the hidden details that I have always enjoyed in this book is the section when Harry and Dudley make it back to Privet Drive after their encounter with the dementors on Wisteria Lane.
“How many times do I have to tell you?” said Harry, temper and voice rising together. “It wasn’t me! It was a couple of dementors.”
“A couple of — what’s this cadswallop?”
“De — men — tors,” said Harry slowly and clearly. “Two of them.”
“And what the ruddy hell are dementors?”
“They guard the wizard prison, Azkaban,” said Aunt Petunia.”
Two seconds’ ringing silence followed those words and then Aunt Petunia clapped her hand over her mouth as though she had let slip a disgusting swear word. Uncle Vernon was goggling at her. Harry’s brain reeled. Mrs. Figg was one thing — but Aunt Petunia?
“How’d you know that?” he asked her, astonished.
Aunt Petunia looked quite appalled with herself. She glanced at Uncle Vernon in fearful apology, then lowered her hand slightly to reveal her horsey teeth.
“I heard — that awful boy — telling her about them — years ago,” she said jerkily.
“If you mean my mum and dad, why don’t you use their names?” said Harry loudly, but Aunt Petunia ignored him.
If you only read the series once (or maybe even twice), you would assume, as Harry did, that Aunt Petunia is talking about James telling Lily about the dementors. But after reading the series closely, it is revealed in book 7 that she’s actually talking about Snape. He and Lily were friends when they were young, and he told Lily all about Azkaban. And clearly Rowling planned that detail before writing book 5.
Example #2: Aberforth
During this most recent listen to book 5, this passage revealed a small detail that I’d never noticed before (or perhaps had forgotten – my memory is not what it once was).
When Harry first see the barman at The Hog’s Head, Rowling writes…
He was a grumpy-looking old man with a great deal of long gray hair and beard. He was tall and thin and looked vaguely familiar to Harry.
As you know, if you’re as much of a Potterhead as I am, the barman is later revealed to be Dumbledore’s younger brother, Aberforth. So of course he looks familiar to Harry. His piercing blue eye (which is identical to Albus Dumbledore’s eyes) is first seen in Sirius’ mirror (another detail from book 5) at the beginning of book 7. So cool, right?
To me, Rowling is the ultimate writer to strive to emulate. The only other author who has come close in terms of series writing is Marissa Meyer. She planted similar details in her Lunar Chronicles series.