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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Author - J.K. Rowling

The book won the Smarties Book Prize in 1998 and the Children's Book Award in 1999.

Harry is depressed. It is his 12th birthday and nobody seems to remember. Harry, orphaned when he was a baby, lives with his only relatives, the dreadful Dursleys. The Dursleys detest anything that is not 'normal'. And Harry, in their opinion, is certainly not 'normal'. He is a young wizard, home after his first year at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.

J.K. Rowling's second book in the Harry Potter series narrates the events that mark Harry's second year at Hogwarts. Beginning with the spectacular rescue of Harry and his owl Hedwig from the Dursleys' residence, it is as exciting and eventful as the first.

Harry's faithful friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger help him cope with subjects like Potions and Transfiguration, detention for breaking school rules and in dealing with the influential bully, Draco Malfoy. However, the sinister voice that nobody else seems to hear is one of the things Harry has to deal with, by himself.

There is a spate of mysterious attacks on students, and Harry is always there, drawn by the mysterious voice. But everybody believes that he has opened the legendary Chamber of Secrets and has unleashed its dreaded monster, to kill off all those of mixed blood.

Harry has to discover the truth about the Chamber of Secrets now, to prove his innocence. And to rescue Ron's sister Ginny who has been carried off into the chamber. His clever friend Hermione is in hospital, petrified; Dumbledore, the wise Headmaster has been dismissed; and Hagrid, their gamekeeper - friend has been expelled. He only has Ron and his backfiring wand to help.

Can Harry find the Chamber of Secrets? Can he tackle the dreaded creature that lives within? Does he rescue Ginny? Do Dumbledore and Hagrid return to Hogwarts? Where does Harry find help when Lord Voldemort, the dark wizard who killed his parents, appears before him in the underground chamber?

The events race to an exciting, suspense-filled, satisfying climax. Through it all, Harry understands that it is the choices we make that determine who we are, more than our innate abilities.

J.K. Rowling creates a vivid picture of Hogwarts -the forbidden forest, the enchanted castle, its great hall, dormitories, swivelling staircases and dungeons. The location might be magical, but the characters and their emotions are very much our own. The situations swing between the funny and the terrifying, and every little incident helps to advance the story to its nail-biting finish.

We meet Dobby the house-elf for the first time in this book. Add to this list, a sinister Basilisk, a wonderful phoenix called Fawkes, a tree that wallops anybody in its vicinity, some man-eating spiders, a flying blue Ford Anglia, and a terrible diary that keeps alive the memory of the Dark wizard that nobody likes to name. We are well into an enchanted world with Harry, Ron and Hermione. The only danger is, when Hogwarts Express brings them home at the end of their second year, we might not want to get off!

Review - By Revathi Sachidanandam

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