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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

“Swish and Flick.”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (or Philosopher’s Stone depending on where you’re from) was written by J.K. Rowling. The American edition was published in the year 1998. It’s the debut book from a series we’re all familiar with to some capacity. And if for some reason you’ve never heard of it, allow me to shed some light.

…Lumos.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone introduces us to a young boy named, of course, Harry Potter. This boy lives with his aunt, uncle, and cousin who all happen to hate him. He’s ignored and made to live in the cupboard under the stairs. But soon Harry learns of his magic blood. It turns out his parents were wizards and that he is meant to be one too. He’s accepted to Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and it isn’t long before he finds himself with an owl named Hedwig, new friends called Ron and Hermione, a sworn enemy called Malfoy, and a pile of new subjects to study.

Not to mention You-Know-Who, who causes a load of trouble, believe me.

~

I first picked up my copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at a thrift store, I believe. I had been wanting to read it for quite a while and it seemed the time to spend a few dollars on a dear used book that was still in excellent condition.

Side note: I rather like used books, don’t you? Especially paperbacks that already have a few creases from being read. It makes me wonder about the history of the book. Which is nice. Yeah?

Anyway, at this point I was eighteen years old – an official adult – and free to make my own rebellious reading decisions.

Because, yeah – growing up, I wasn’t allowed to read this book, for reasons I respect. I’m a Christian and the main concern of my very much Catholic parents was that the book encouraged things like sorcery and witchcraft, forbidden by the Bible. We’ll get into why I don’t see it that way in a bit. For now…

 

~ Things I Liked ~

1. The Writing Style

It’s pretty clear that J.K. Rowling is very talented. Even if you don’t particularly enjoy the themes, Rowling’s writing style is smooth and easy on the eyes. She’s able to weave words in such a natural way that it makes it easy for you to do that weird, sort of zone-out thing where you barely even see the words on the page anymore and it’s just like you’re watching a movie in your head.

Eloquence. But you know what I’m talking about.

2. The Characters

This is one of the top things for me. If I’m perfectly honest, I don’t care too much for Harry himself. I like him alright and I’m interested in his story, but I’m actually more concerned for some of the more minor characters. I love that Rowling made that possible. There are so many interesting characters that you’re bound to find one you like.

The Sorcerer’s Stone introduced these characters well. You learn just enough about them to make you interested in learning more. And there is a lot more. I’m only on book four and there has indeed been a lot more already.

3. The Universe

This. This might be the top thing. Because the universe that J.K. Rowling creates in these stories is so rich and so vivid that you feel like magic is actually a possible thing. And that is talented writing.

Not only do I follow the story, but I get to put myself in it. I get to choose my Hogwarts house and imagine what it would be like if I got to hang out in the Hufflepuff common room. I get to learn about the culture and the terms and the history of it all. I get to get caught up in a world very different from my own, but no less real – in its own way.

This book is an exciting introduction to this exciting world. And, once again, there’s so much more in the books to come.

4. The Plot

The story was wondrous. Rowling is one of those Story Weavers. She’s able to write a book so that the second time you read it, you interpret things in a totally different way because you know what things are leading to. She’s able to write mysteries with unpredictable endings. She keeps me guessing until the very end, which is hard to find in a book.

There happen to be very few books I read that after I’ve finished I feel the need to give the author a round of applause. This is one of them.

 

~ Things I Disliked ~

I racked my brain hard for this one because I don’t want to be biased and I want to present both sides of things, but I can’t think of anything that I particularly took issue with.

I thoroughly enjoyed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Does that mean I will thoroughly enjoy the rest of the series? Not necessarily.

I’m not going to write a review of every single Harry Potter book, but if my opinions do change on the books or if I come across something in a book that I really don’t like, I will write another one. Just for the sake of keeping things unbiased and honest.

Again, I’ll get into the argument that Harry Potter is not for Christians in a second because I am a Christian and I think it’s an important argument, but I prefer not to under the umbrella of “Things I Disliked” as I don’t think it is relevant just now. As the book stands, biases from both sides removed, it is a good piece of literature. Good plot, good characters, rich setting. Yes.

 

~ Would I Recommend it? ~

Yes.

Yes, yes, yes.

This is the part where I bring up the Christian argument against Harry Potter. I want to present this in its best light because I think it is a valid concern.

There is worry among Christian communities that Harry Potter leads to interest in the occult, that it portrays good as bad and bad as good, that it sugar-coats things like witchcraft and sorcery.

I respect anyone who has this opinion and makes a decision not to let their children read the series in an effort to protect them. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’m personally glad I waited to read it so that I could read it with more discernment than I would have had as a kid.

And after reading it, I’ve decided for myself that it is appropriate to read. It does not make me want to go out and purchase tarot cards. I’m not compelled to go out in my back yard and summon a spirit from the underworld.

I feel, spiritually, Harry Potter doesn’t affect me at all. Why?

Because it’s fiction.

Rowling used fictional elements to create a world that has nothing to do with our world. It’s a world in which there is good magic and bad magic. In this world students are taught traits like bravery, cleverness, loyalty, and cunning and are encouraged to use these traits for good.

There is a clear line between good and evil, light and darkness. When that line starts becoming blurred is when I become concerned about a book’s message. As far as I’ve read, with Harry Potter, that is not the case. It’s always good against evil. Though Harry himself may struggle with this line – as we all do – to the reader, it is clear that Harry and his friends are fighting for the good side.

So would I recommend it? Yes. It is a good book and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

~

In conclusion, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was a book I rather enjoyed. Harry Potter has been a series I’ve rather enjoyed as far as I’ve read of it! I’m happy I waited to read it as an older person because I think I appreciate it a lot more. As a writer, Harry Potter is an invaluable example of good writing. Rowling is a big inspiration to me.

My Official Goodreads Rating is five out of five stars and I tell you, it deserves every one of those stars!

So if you haven’t read it yet, or if you’re holding back from it for religious reasons, I’d encourage you to give it a try and decide for yourself. It really is lovely.

Happy reading!

– Brooke Elizabeth

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