Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Rowling's sixth book opens in the British Prime Minister's office after "a very long, tiring, and difficult week," words that cast an eerie light on actual events in London this summer. Yet from the first, the author has used the wizard world to offer insight into the goings-on in the real world, perhaps now more than ever. After the new Minister of Magic introduces himself to the Prime Minister, the scene shifts to Professor Snape's home, where Draco Malfoy's mother and aunt pay him a call, referring to a cryptic mission on which He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is sending Draco. Next, Dumbledore himself fetches Harry from the Dursleys, as the two begin a book-long quest to get to the heart of the dark wizardry impacting both the Muggle and magical worlds. Although You-Know-Who makes no appearances here, his henchmen gain momentum, and his past comes to light through multiple trips via the Pensieve; perhaps Rowling's most brilliant invention yet, the Horcrux, comes chillingly to the fore. Meanwhile, after winding up with a used copy of Advanced Potion-Making with notes from a mysterious Half-Blood Prince, Harry aces his Potions class, taught by the new Professor Slughorn; Snape is now teaching Defense Against the Dark ArtsAwhat can that mean? Readers will have to madly flip the pages to find out. Rowling spends a fair amount of time in the set-up but she accomplishes a great deal in this book, pulling together threads from all the previous titles and expertly poising readers for the planned finale. Old friends such as Lupin and Dobbin make reappearances, love interests and subsequent tensions unfold. Harry, now restored to popularity, nonetheless finds Ron and Hermione wary of his new obsession with Draco Malfoy's activities. The situation at Hogwarts mirrors world events: even Dumbledore finds it difficult to distinguish the good from those who would unleash terror at the school and society at large. If Harry grew up in the last book, here he becomes a man, learning the true impact of the last book's prophecy, and the importance of love as the antidote to fear. All ages.(July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 5 Up-Opening just a few weeks after the previous book left off, the penultimate entry in the series is, as the author foretold, the darkest and most unsettling yet. The deeds of Voldemort's Death Eaters are spreading even to the Muggle world, which is enshrouded in a mist caused by Dementors draining hope and happiness. Harry, turning 16, leaves for Hogwarts with the promise of private lessons with Dumbledore. No longer a fearful boy living under the stairs, he is clearly a leader and increasingly isolated as rumors spread that he is the "Chosen One," the only individual capable of defeating Voldemort. Two attempts on students' lives, Harry's conviction that Draco Malfoy has become a Death Eater, and Snape's usual slimy behavior add to the increasing tension. Yet through it all, Harry and his friends are typical teens, sharing homework and messy rooms, rushing to classes and sports practices, and flirting. Ron and Hermione realize their attraction, as do Harry and Ginny. Dozens of plot strands are pulled together as the author positions Harry for the final book. Much information is cleverly conveyed through Dumbledore's use of a Pensieve, a device that allows bottled memories to be shared by Harry and his beloved professor as they apparate to various locations that help explain Voldemort's past. The ending is heart wrenching. Once again, Rowling capably blends literature, mythology, folklore, and religion into a delectable stew. This sixth book may be darker and more difficult, but Potter fans will devour it and begin the long and bittersweet wait for the final installment.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
With the Harry Potter Express chugging closer to its final destination, the sixth book in the series gets down to business. No more diversions about the welfare of house elves or the intricacies of Quidditch. This penultimate offering is more about tying up loose ends and fleshing out the backstory. Harry and the gang are back at Hogwarts, but the mood is grim. The wizard community is now fully aware that evil has returned, and the citizenry is afraid. Harry has been left bereft by the death of Sirius Black, and there are more killings to come. In a powerful early scene, readers learn that a pivotal figure is seemingly not to be trusted, yet throughout there are hints that he or she is a double agent. Later Harry becomes entangled with a former student known as the Half-Blood Prince, having accidentally acquired the prince's Potions textbook, but this turns out to be a mixed blessing. Rowling also devotes time to a carefully crafted telling of the story of Lord Voldemort's early life, which Harry and Dumbledore piece together by plucking other people's memories. Rowling is at the top of her game here. For those able to reach just beyond the engrossing tale, there is commentary relevant to today: how governments offer false security about perilous situations and how being in a constant state of war affects people's behavior. Harry is almost 17 now, and this is a book for older readers, who will best understand the moral implications of his choices. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2005 Booklist
Horn Book Review
(Intermediate, Middle School) As Harry enters his sixth year at Hogwart's, the wizarding world is at war: the Ministry of Magic has finally acknowledged Voldemort's existence. Harry prepares for his foretold life-or-death battle with the Dark Lord while carrying on with classes, Quidditch, and adolescent romance. Narrator Jim Dale's admirable performance is largely consistent with previous audio versions in this series, though the production has a somewhat rushed feel, and a few of the characters (notably Ginny Weasley) are difficult to distinguish -- perhaps understandable given the enormous cast. But for the most part, the voices that Dale has perfected through the first five books will continue to captivate listeners here. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.