Book Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
On Harry Potter’s eleventh birthday he is whisked away from his horrible Aunt and Uncle and introduced to the magical world that exists hidden within the world he’s always known. Harry learns that his name and his lightening bolt scar are famous in the Wizarding World. Even more famous is Lord Voldemort, the person who turned Harry’s life around when he murdered his parents. Three years later, Harry is about to start his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Summers with the Dursleys are always unbearable, but Harry’s time at number 4 Privet Drive is cut short when he is able to spend the end of summer with his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Together with the Weasley family they go to the last game of the Quidditch World Cup. The excitement of the greatest game on earth is spoiled when Voldemort’s supporters are spotted nearby. Strange events have begun to occur in the Wizarding World and Harry can’t help but feel unsettled. Could Voldemort possibly be gaining strength to return to power? Harry is able to temporarily forget about Voldemort when term begins, and although a school year at Hogwarts is never without excitement, this year will prove to be unlike any other. But when Harry finds himself thrust into dangers that will require more bravery and skill than he has ever had to show, he feels like he is not entirely safe at Hogwarts. If Harry is to survive this year at Hogwarts, he will have to call on help from his friends while using all of his strengths to his advantage.
I will always have a special fondness for this book since it was the first Harry Potter book that was released while I was a fan. The first three books were already out when I started reading them, but this book I had to wait for. I also enjoy this book since it’s so different from the others, with the Quidditch World Cup, the Triwizard Tournament and the Yule Ball. This was the first of the Harry Potter books to be long book, and perhaps because of the length we learn a great deal in this book, and many moments in Goblet of Fire build up to the final book (such as Dumbledore’s ‘gleam of triumph.’) You could argue that this is the first book in the series that could be classified as YA instead of junior fiction. It is certainly darker, and we also see the characters start to have romantic attractions to other characters, although some of these were hinted about before. I’ve read this book at least 12 times (once a year) but likely more, and this time I listened to the beginning as a audio book. I think that Goblet of Fire is a very good example of a well done murder mystery. Of course, while reading we don’t exactly know that a murder is going to take place, but we do know early on that someone placed Harry’s name in the goblet of fire. Reading this with the knowledge of what happens is very interesting, and you can see all the subtle hints and things being built up to. I think that the plot was perfectly orchestrated and planned out. Someone once asked me if the Harry Potter books had flowery prose and wonderful similes, and they don’t. The writing isn’t poetic, but I don’t think anyone could argue with me when I say that J.K. Rowling is a great storyteller. Her world building is certainly amazing. In this book we learn more about the inner workings of the magical world, including the unforgiveable curses and how Harry’s parents were killed. While everyone loves the story and the magical world, one of the main reasons to keep reading the series is the characters. They are the reason I keep coming back and I loved seeing them grow and become the people they will be by the seventh book. One of my favourite little things about this book is Hermione’s passion for S.P.E.W, the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare. One thing that caught my attention this time: towards the end of the book, Snape confronts Fudge by showing him something. I want to keep this spoiler free, but I thought that moment was a sign of what his true allegiances are.
The movie adaptation is loved by a lot of people because it’s entertaining. I mean, there’s a ball and dragons! What’s not to love? However, of all the movies, this is the one I have the biggest problem with. I’m usually okay with things being kept out, but I cannot stand when the movies aren’t true to the characters. They will often take a clever line of Ron’s and give it to Hermione, and I can’t stand that. The most obvious thing I didn’t like was when Dumbledore asks Harry if he put his name in the Goblet of Fire, in a very un-Dumbledore-like manner. The scene in which Harry faces the dragon I find particularly annoying, since Harry acts like an idiot and needs Hermione to remind him to use his wand. This scene also makes Hogwarts look, if possible, even less safe than it actually is, since no one stops the dragon from running off with Harry and nearly killing him. I also hate Harry’s hesitation in the maze. The movie also doesn’t capture how well planned out the plot was. It was fun to watch, but I didn’t think it was a good adaptation.
This is a pivotal book in the series that shows signs of the series heading in a darker direction than people imagined when they read The Philosopher’s Stone. At the same time, we see love, humour and friendships tested and strengthened. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people are intimated by this book after reading the first three in the series, which are relatively short. This book is certainly thick, but I never felt like it dragged on. With the Quidditch World Cup and the three tasks in the Triwizard Tournament spread out throughout the book, there was plenty of excitement and suspense. It’s also a fairly quick read despite its bulk; when I first read it I was ten and I read it in three days (it was summer vacation though.) I think new fans of the series will enjoy the fourth book and seeing how the books mature with Harry. For long time lovers of the books, you can always count on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire being just as good as you remembered. For me, it’s comforting to know that whatever happens I’ll always be able to read this book and remember what it was like to be ten years old.
“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”