Narrated by Jim Dale
Thanks to a meddling house elf, Harry’s literally behind bars until the Weasley twins and Ron break him out and shuttle him off to the Burrow for the remainder of the summer. There, he experiences what it’s like to live in a wizarding home. It’s not long until he’s off to Hogwarts, having missed the train (oops) and stolen the flying car (oh well) and narrowly missed being expelled (to Snape’s disappointment). The real adventure starts at Halloween, when they find a petrified cat and a cryptic message written on the wall. But where’s the Chamber of Secrets? Who opened it? What beast is inside? The lives of all the Hogwarts students – especially Muggle-borns – seems to stand on the line, and it’s up to the trio to unravel the secrets and save the day (again).
One thing I particularly appreciate about the Harry Potter series is that Rowling never portrays the adults as stupid. In a lot of children’s books, the children have to go and unravel everything because the adults are too blind to see a hand in front of their face. In this series, they’re trying, but it just seems Harry has all the breaks. Oh well.
I remember reading this book when I was younger and Chamber was definitely low down on my list of favorites. In retrospect, I think that’s because (spoiler) Hermione’s out-of-commission for most of the book. Like both Sorcerer’s Stone and Prisoner, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets works well as a standalone book. Whereas Sorcerer’s Stone is more about overcoming a lot of different obstacles to complete a quest, Chamber is about completing a riddle and observing the truths around you, rather than holding up prejudices. You can’t help but to wonder that if Harry and Ron hadn’t been so focused on Draco, they might’ve noticed Ginny’s odd behaviors before. Percy certainly did, for what little credit it is worth – he just didn’t put two and two together.
Overall, I still don’t think that Chamber is one of Rowling’s strongest books. It relies heavily on Harry’s intelligence, which can be frustrating to the reader at best, and the only comic relief in the story is Lockhart’s arrogance. Sir Nicholas’ Death Day Party – while interesting – is completely unnecessary to the story. I believe it was intended as a distraction and to get the trio to the stairwell, and perhaps introduce Myrtle, but all those things could have easily been done without the scene. Additionally, I’m fairly certain that the whole point of Colin Creevy’s character was to be the first human petrified, and considering he follows Harry around being annoying for the first half of the books, we could have just as easily started with Justin.
Still, these are nitpicky things.
I like Chamber well enough that I’ve read it several times. The unnecessary things are still enjoyable enough. Jim Dale is beginning to get into the characters a bit better as well, and the narration is much smoother than Sorcerer’s Stone was.
I’ve been listening to the Harry Potter series with my husband as part of his education of my favorite books. We typically listen for about four hours a week, so it’s slow going – but worth it! Next, we’ll be listening to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – my favorite!
If you want to listen to Jim Dale’s narration of this story, you can listen to the audio sample on Audible. However, if you’re interested in buying the audiobook (or eBook) I would urge you to purchase directly from Pottermore. I’ve got no affiliation here, but I personally would rather support the wizarding world universe than… Amazon. Shh!