Reviews for Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2005 #5
This sixth Harry Potter will wow the series' many fans -- Rowling delivers the likable characters and thrilling situations that have made the series so popular, handily weaving in plots begun in earlier books and returning to comic staples of wizard school life while providing fresh novelties. Connoisseurs will note that Rowling's real attention is focused on setting up Harry's final showdown with Lord Voldemort: Dumbledore's private Pensieve tutorials with Harry, in which the two sift through various characters' memories about the Dark Lord's history, searching for the means to defeat him, are the main thrust of the book but will pay off fully only in the last volume. Even so, there's plenty of engaging mystery and suspense here: the title character, the Half-Blood Prince, occluded for most of the book as merely the author of some helpful notes in Harry's potions text, bursts into startling prominence by the end. Harry himself, grown more independent, decisive, and "fanciable," comes of age, committing himself by his own choice to defeating Voldemort and accepting that former protectors like his parents and Dumbledore (and even the Dursleys) no longer stand between him and danger. Old animosities against Snape, now the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher (whose twisted loyalties become even more opaque), and Draco Malfoy, the newest Death Eater recruit, continue unabated and crescendo into an epochal betrayal at the close, brilliantly conjured by Rowling. In the war against Voldemort, Snape may prove to be the linchpin just as much as Harry, but to find out for sure, readers will have to wait for the ultimate Harry, book seven. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

School Library Journal Reviews 2005 September

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

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