The sixth book begins with the Minister of Magic visiting the English Prime Minister – that is the Minister of Muggles. Of course, it is not very surprising that the normal minister does not enjoy his magical counterpart’s visit. But it’s amazing the way the author has written the scene – the detailing too great for words.
This is followed by the Unbreakable Vow that Snape takes with Draco Malfoy’s mother. Could Dumbledore still trust him or was the school principle getting senile with age? Read the book to find out more about this one.
Dumbledore takes Harry’s help in bringing Professor Slughorn out of retirement – another cute scene so well written – to teach at Hogwarts and Slughorn goes on to become the Potions Professor much to the students’ surprise and delight. They are happy that Professor Snape is not teaching potions any more. But much to Harry, Ron and Hermione’s horror, Snape is the new teacher for Defence Against the Dark Arts.
While Harry improves tremendously in Potions – especially with the help of the book that he ‘borrows’ from the Half-Blood Prince, he begins to hate DADA, no thanks to Snape. Their hate-hate relationship continues while Harry does his best to convince Dumbledore that Snape is an enemy. Would the principal listen to Harry? No, it seems.
Harry is also not very happy with Draco Malfoy’s strange activities and is convinced that Malfoy is a Death Eater now. But no one seems to take him seriously – not even Hermione and Ron.
Things turn murkier when murder attempts on students bring terror into the youngsters’ lives. While Harry has special classes with Professor Dumbledore, they are usually trips down memory lane through the pensieve. Harry learns a lot about the young Voldemort aka Tom Riddle as Dumbledore builds up the evil wizard’s life story piece by piece. He is preparing Harry to face his nemesis and it appears that the event is all set to happen in the very near future.
The story drags Harry and his friends deeper and deeper into dark magic while some light moments cheer up the readers with Felix Felicis and Ron’s swallowing a love potion hidden within Chocolate Cauldrons.
Darkness clouds around the introduction of Horcruxes, spells such as Sectumsempra that almost leads to Malfoy’s death and the silver and opal necklace that almost does Katie Bell in. It took me a couple of readings back and forth with the 6th and 7th books before I understood what Horcruxes were.
Who is the Half-Blood Prince whose book Harry has been using during Potions’ class? While Hermione disapproves of his using a book that belongs to a stranger, Harry scoffs her off believing that she is jealous of his doing excellently well in his worst subject so far.
The worst is yet to come during the climax. After reading this book, it finally hit me that fate had dealt such terrible blows to Harry Potter - one after another - and I felt very sorry for the young hero for the first time. While it had been all light-hearted before, it is not so any more. Black magic is rampant in this book as Lord Voldemort gets stronger. Harry hates it when the people around him are affected by it and believes that he is responsible. Is he?
There is no way you can get off midway once you are on the Harry Potter rollercoaster.
And that’s how I went on to read the seventh book, not wanting to miss the ending. Will good triumph over evil? It looks tough.