Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

Over the past few years, J.K. Rowling has made statements that are TERF, or against the trans community (especially towards male-to-female). These statements are completely against the thoughts and ideas of the creator of this blog. I have been and always will be an ally for any member of the LGBTQIA+ community. You exist, and you are valid. If you are struggling and need to talk to a counselor, there are many resources available at thetrevorproject.org.

Reminder: This review is of a series and not an individual book. While I will write a synopsis for each book, I will do my best to not give away blatant spoilers. With that being said, the end of one book more or less is the start of another, so information from the end of the previous book may play a role in the plot of the next book, thus I have to give away the spoiler. Read the synopsis at your own discretion.

Now that the Ministry is aware that Voldemort has returned, Minister Fudge is removed and Minister Scrimgeour is his replacement. His first task is to deal with the headlines that begin to reach muggle ears, including deaths and a bridge collapse.

Harry receives a note from Dumbledore stating that he will collect him from the Dursleys. They head to a village where Harry convinces Professor Slughorn to join Hogwarts. Pleased with Harry, Dumbledore takes Harry to the Burrow (the Weasley house) to stay for the rest of the summer. Before he lets him go, however, Dumbledore explains that he wants to have private lessons with Harry this year. In the Burrow, Harry learns that Bill, Ron’s older brother, is engaged to former Beauxbaton champion, Fleur Delacour, much to the chagrin of the other Weasleys. The family heads to Diagon Alley to get everything they need for the upcoming year, but Harry, Ron, and Hermione catch Malfoy heading to Borgin and Burkes in neighboring Knockturn Alley.

As they head to Hogwarts, Harry and Neville are invited to attend a lunch in Slughorn’s train car. These meals become known as the Slug Club, a collection of students that Slughorn sees as potentially beneficial for him to know. On the way back, Harry uses his invisibility cloak to sneak into Draco’s car to see if he gives any information about what he was doing in Borgin and Burkes. Malfoy catches him and attacks Harry, intending for Harry to never make it to the castle. When he finally does thanks to discovery from an Order member, Harry and his fellow students learn that Professor Slughorn will be taking over Potions, while Snape will become the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor.

Since Professor Slughorn’s standards for his N.E.W.T. classes is less than Snape’s, Harry is able to take Potions. Since he didn’t think he would be able to take the class, he did not have a textbook yet, so he borrowed an old copy from the school. The book was originally owned by the “Half-Blood Prince”, though there is no information as to who that witch or wizard could be. Using the book, Harry has instructions that improve the potion making process, causing him to quickly excel in the class. Much to Hermione’s frustration, Harry was able to win a bottle of Felix Felicis, also known as liquid luck.

When Harry attends his first lesson with Dumbledore, he learns that they are going to be going back through memories to get a better understanding of Tom Riddle and how he eventually became Lord Voldemort. Through these memories, Dumbledore gives Harry an idea of the air of pain and anguish that Voldemort experienced as a child and eventual adult. It also gave them an idea of what Voldemort found important. However, they were missing one huge memory, a memory that Harry would have to recover himself from Professor Slughorn.

As the Quidditch captain, Harry had to choose who would be on the team this year. Both Ginny and Ron made the team, which caused a lot of people to believe that Harry was only giving the team spots to his friends. With that pressure, Ron started to lose faith that he could be good enough for the team and his performance began to slip. Harry, trying to think how he could help his friend, pretended to slip Felix Felicis into Ron’s drink, letting him think that he would be able to make lucky saves. Following the match, Ron was kissed by Lavender Brown in front of the entire common room. Hermione was hurt that Ron would kiss someone blatantly in front of her, and they stopped talking to each other after that.

Returning from a Hogsmeade trip, fellow Gryffindor Katie Bell is cursed by a necklace. Believing that Malfoy was behind it, Harry tried to explain to McGonagall, but she believed Harry just held a grudge against him. When Draco crashes Slughorn’s Christmas party, Harry overhears Snape say that he took an Unbreakable Vow with Draco’s mother to help him this year. This information just cements in Harry’s mind that Draco is up to something very bad.

When Ron accidentally eats love-potioned chocolates that were for Harry, Harry takes him to Professor Slughorn. After receiving an antidote, Slughorn offers Ron and Harry a drink of mead. However, the mead was poisoned, causing Harry to save Ron’s life. They learn that the mead was supposed to be a gift for Professor Dumbledore, leading Harry to believe that Malfoy was behind the attack once again.

As he tries to figure out how he could get the memory from Slughorn, he realizes that he needs some luck. He takes the liquid luck and is able to finally get the final piece of the puzzle: Voldemort created 7 horcruxes in order to prevent him from dying. In order to kill Voldemort, he would have to eliminate all of the horcruxes first. He also learns that he destroyed one in his second year: the diary from the Chamber of Secrets. He also learns that Dumbledore had destroyed another one: the ring from Slytherin. He also learns that the other Horcruxes are more than likely a locket that Voldemort’s mother used to own, a cup from Hufflepuff, an item from Ravenclaw, and Voldemort’s snake, Nagini. When Dumbledore believes he knows how to get another horcrux, he takes Harry. There they try to decipher the tricks and spells placed by Voldemort in the hopes of destroying yet another horcrux.

I think that this book was probably the coolest in the sense that we finally started to understand who Voldemort was and why he became the Dark Lord. Since this is the last time Harry will be able to get help from Dumbledore, it provides this big crescendo of now that we know what brought us here, let’s start the war. It is very well written, although there were a few times where you wanted to just scream at the book to give us all the information instead of making us work for it. It does drag sometimes since Dumbledore continues to only give us information in short spurts. Overall, I would give this one a 3.75 out of 5 stars.

Compared to the Movie

Once again, the movie got the broad strokes, but it missed a lot of really cool things. For example, the movie only showed the memory of Tom in the orphanage, but missed all of the memories of his mother before his birth. I think that out of all the longer books, this movie was probably the best. It covered what it needed to cover, but we can’t forget that the book obviously filled in holes that the movie just didn’t have time to cover.

One of the weird things they changed was the Christmas at the Burrow. In the book, Harry is visited by Scrimgeour and Percy as they try to convince him to be the face of the ministry. However, in the movie, the Burrow is visited by a bunch of Death Eaters that end up blowing the Burrow apart. The Burrow is still standing in the 7th book. This scene is a very weird addition to the series.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

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