Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Never lets you down

Rereading this for the first time after twenty years (I’m not a huge rereader), I can say that there were scenes I’d very much forgotten, and other scenes that have stuck with me, but mostly because of the film. I now have Robbie Coltrane’s Hagrid permanently in my head every time he appears. Which isn’t necessary a bad thing, but does show how much film can affect reading. Of course, all the other main characters have their images in my mind because of the film, too. Although Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry actually didn’t deviate so much from the cover images, anyway.

Some particular scenes that were now easier to visualise because of the film were when Harry spoke to the snake at the zoo and “helped” him escape. Yet I can’t believe I had totally forgotten exactly how Hagrid found Harry! Oh, and the pig’s tail – how on Earth could I forget that? Less important scenes, of course, I really forgot about Vernon’s obsession with drills. But little things like that just disappear so quickly when you get into the bulk of the story – Harry.

It’s hard to imagine the shy boy wearing over-sized hand-me-downs turning into the trainee wizard that defeats Voldemort once again… And how that pale skinny boy next to him at the fitting turns into a school bully with a lineage that openly supported Voldemort, claiming they were “brainwashed” or something similar.

We’ve got a book with quite a cast of characters, who’ve become our neighbours and friends throughout the years. Yet when rereading it’s easy to see what enticed us into the pages in the first place – a complex but fun story that, despite the bullying, is so easy to understand and connect with. There is so much going on here, yet it’s so easy to read! It doesn’t matter if you’re a child or adult, because the story is so engaging, you just don’t get bored.

But back to the bullying for a moment – it actually shocked me a little how much of it there is. Dursley uses Harry as his favourite punchbag… Kids are like that, but it is somewhat frightening it being so visual like that.

Good and bad aside, you just can’t help but love it anyway. A three-headed dog, that sleeps to music. Trying to save Hagrid from his pet dragon (and the consequences of obtaining the egg in the first place). Wizard’s Chess, life size! It’s like these kids were born to get into trouble, and are adept at doing it, without too much trouble, all with Dumbledore’s sly encouragement (he did, after all, give Harry his father’s invisibility cloak).

Really, many have said other things, and I guess I could go on forever. But, best stop here, and ready myself for the next adventure.

Final rating: ★★★★★ – Loved it/couldn’t put it down

Join or Die by J. Adrian Ruth

The race to save Otherworld

This book is initially set in the human realm, before Alex suddenly receives a visitor who tells him that his absentee father is a “Creature”, the various monsters out of myths and legends, and that he most likely will transform into one, too.

So there Alex is, a half breed with a human mother, suddenly taken away to a private boarding school for Creatures in another realm, Otherworld, leaving behind his best friend, Carlos, his mother, and everything he’s ever known. Worse than that, he’s told that he’s the Scion Heir (leader of all the Creatures), being a descendant of the original Scion, and that he’ll eventually have to battle the other Heir to become the leader of all.

Luckily, he somehow manages to find his place in this new world, making new friends who gradually form a part of his Ciorcal (Celtic for “circle”), the group that will support, protect, and guide him, if and when he does fulfil his destiny.

In the meantime, however, he has no idea what Creature he himself is going to be, and has to face off a Creature who has been killing off all of the Heirs. Along with some other hijinks with his Ciorcal, it’s a fight for survival he hadn’t been warned of or planned for.

I must say that the beginning didn’t thrill me quite so much, but the last part of the book made up for that and was pretty good. I can only assume that this is because this is quite obviously the author’s first book, with it having at times too much information, then at others not enough. There are still quite a few typos in this book, but I’m guessing that that is because it is, at the time of ARC release, still not fully edited.

However, despite its similarities to other Paranormal schools, it has enough differences in it to make it a new take on the idea, somewhat familiar yet with unique elements.

Hopefully the sequel, once it’s finally released, will further develop the ideas here and, after reading the preview, it looks like we will find out more about the current Scion and the ongoing war against him.

Final rating: ★★★★☆ – Really liked

*I received a free digital ARC via NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*