At last! At last! Beloved Harry Potter returns for his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the hush-hush fourth installment of the seven-part series. With a working title of Harry Potter and the Doomspell Tournament, J.K. Rowling's latest Harry adventure has been forever in the making, it seems. The shroud of secrecy surrounding the actual title, cover, and plot has done nothing to dampen the spirits of Harry's fans. No advance copies were made available (not even one teensy excerpt!), and one insider at the publisher mused, "Even I can't get my hands on it until July 8!"
BookPage did participate in a recent AOL Live online chat with Ms. Rowling, who answered questions about her inspiration, early beginnings, and spiritual beliefs.
A couple of fans pointedly asked Rowling about her beliefs concerning witches, magic, and God, and Rowling replied that she doesn't "believe in magic in the way [it is] described [in her] books." As far as her belief in God, Rowling responded with an online sigh, and then typed, "Well, as it happens, I believe in God, but there's no pleasing some people!"
Few details are available about the longest (700+ pages) and most expensive ($25.95) Harry Potter book to date. What we can tell you is that the suspense is so nail-biting, nail salons worldwide should prepare themselves for a banner year: Readers may find themselves attending the International Quidditch World Cup, or baffled by yet another new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Of course, romance is a scary thing, too, and it will be interesting to see if 14-year-old Harry enters this unknown territory with Cho Chang. Rowling, who had outlined the seven-part series before finishing the first book, has already revealed that death looms in Book Four (the books are increasingly darker as our favorite Hogwarts students mature).
If you are not one of the first 3.8 million to receive a copy from its first printing (!), don't despair; catch up with the first three installments. Then you'll be ready for Book Four when that second printing rolls around or someone is willing to loan you their copy, whichever comes first.
Miriam Drennan could not work any magic on those tight-lipped folks at Scholastic. Copyright 2000 BookPage Reviews
BookPage Reviews 2000 August
An open letter to J.K. Rowling
Dear Ms. Rowling,
Last summer when you gave us Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, I tore through it and almost called to badger you about releasing Book Four. Harry having to return to the Dursleys after reuniting with Sirius Black is nothing compared to the painful wait I have endured for the fourth installment. Suffice to say, it's been the longest summer vacation in history. Just when I thought I couldn't take it any longer, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire arrived.
I was thrilled that Harry found reprieve by spending the final two weeks of summer with the Weasleys. But the best was yet to come - I was so happy to return to Hogwarts! I'd been kept away too long.
The story is centered on the Triwizard Tournament: Young wizards enter themselves, and the Goblet of Fire chooses the names, one wizard champion from each participating school. Cedric Diggory, Harry's Quidditch rival from the Hufflepuff House, is selected as the Hogwarts champion. As the selections are wrapping up, everyone is shocked when the Goblet releases Harry's name. Since Harry did not meet the age requirement, who put his name in the Goblet? Someone who felt he deserved a chance? Or someone who wanted him dead?
Mixed feelings and misunderstandings plague Harry throughout the Tournament; many of his fellow students have a difficult time offering their support. At times, Harry is so mistreated, returning to the Dursleys seems almost inviting. Almost.
It wouldn't be a new school year without a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, however; Headmaster Albus Dumbledore has managed to snag Auror great Mad-Eye Moody. Mad-Eye is a living legend, despite the paranoia that has accompanied the onset of age. And given some of the folks from other wizardry schools who visit during the Triwizard Tournament, Mad-Eye's wisdom proves to be helpful beyond the classroom. Why do I get the feeling that we haven't heard the last from these two schools, or Mad-Eye?
Yet adolescence has caught up with our favorite wizards - including Fred and George, who are permanently stationed there - and you handle this in both literal and metaphorical terms. Despite the good and evil that whirls around Harry's fourth year at Hogwarts, he and his friends are not exempt from peer pressure, unrequited love, and just plain hormonal edginess. The veelas' effect on Harry and Ron is hilarious - but I sense that the day is coming that it won't be as funny. Harry's ability to combat the Unforgivable Curses gives new life to the 'just say no' mantra, but really, Ms. Rowling - can Hermione please have a good day in your next book? Her rantings are tiresome, and if she continues in this manner, important matters like house elves' rights will fall on deaf ears. Maybe she should spend a year abroad, or take anger management courses; hers is more than just teenage angst.
Of course, all of this intricate plotting adds up to one major catastrophe: Lord Voldemort is back, he's strong, and he's not alone. We've long suspected several Dark Wizards were in our midst, but one or two will surprise your readers. The killings have begun, and you have promised there will be more; but even wizards are not immune to loss and grief.
All of the magic remains, and whether or not it's intentional, there's quite a bit left dangling. The biggest matter left unresolved, however, is that Lord Voldemort remains at large. While good has temporarily triumphed over evil, it's an uneasy victory.
Despite the Extra-Long Length Charm you put on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Ms. Rowling, your 734 pages were not strong enough to pacify me. I've inhaled them, and like Harry, I have conquered. At the risk of hearing an audible groan from your direction, I have to ask: WHEN CAN WE EXPECT BOOK FIVE?!?!
For the complete text of this letter and predictions about the remaining Harry Potter books, check out www.bookpage.com Copyright 2000 BookPage Reviews
BookPage Reviews 2000 September
If there's anybody in the English speaking world that hasn't read or, better, listened to J.K. Rowling's latest Harry Potter book, they should do so immediately. Hard as it is to believe, Rowling has not only kept the phenomenon going, she's improved on it. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is bigger and even better than the previous volumes - it's as though the author, borrowing a bit from her wisest wizards, has pointed her wand and said, "engorgio!" And voila, another installment in the battle between good and evil, with all the fabulous trappings we've come to expect - ingenious characters, original plot, spectacular magic, playful wit, and a breathtaking climax. Jim Dale's performance of all 124 voices is, in a word, magical, and not to be missed. Copyright 2000 BookPage Reviews
School Library Journal Reviews 2000 September
Gr 4 Up-Harry Potter is back in J.K. Rowling's fourth installment of his adventures (Scholastic, 2000). He is 14 years old and in his fourth year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where the traditional Inter-House Quidditch Cup has been temporarily suspended so that the Triwizard Tournament can be held. Only three students, one from each of the biggest schools of wizardry, may compete, but the Goblet of Fire that chooses the champions from each school mysteriously produces a fourth name Harry Potter. As the school readies for the tournament, it becomes obvious to Harry's allies that Voldemort is plotting something dastardly but only at the very end does he show his hand, springing a trap that Harry only narrowly escapes. Jim Dale, who has narrated the previous Harry Potter audiobooks, succeeds marvelously at the Herculean effort of voicing about 125 characters. By now, Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Hagrid are so well known to him that his renditions of their voices are practiced and flawless. He also invests new characters such as Mad-Eye Moody and Winky with voices that enhance their already vivid personalities. Dale intones magical commands with such great authority that one would almost think he was a wizard himself. Twenty hours is a long time to listen to a book, but the combination of Rowling's enthralling adventure and Dale's limber narration will easily see kids through to the very last sentence.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library, CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.