Wednesday, March 29, 2006

But Did She Use the Imperious Curse to Win?

Rowling's Sixth Potter Novel Named `Book of the Year' in U.K.

The dark and almost surreal sixth installment of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series has won Book of the Year in the U.K. Now, opinions vary widely on the Harry Potter books, from rabid fans to rabid Harry-haters. While I personally think that Book 3, the Prisoner of Azkaban, was the best of the bunch and Books 4-6 were in need of additional editing, the series as a whole has been remarkable in taking a familiar theme (unwanted child finds he has unusual skills and has inherited a powerful legacy) and a much-used setting (magical school) and used them to craft a wholely believable world, complete with a government and a wizarding sport played by professionals, interwoven with fresh and compelling plot. Rowling's coup, though , was to weave mysteries into the books. Each book, particularly the early ones, has a mystery that the characters solve, and the series as a whole involves the mystery of Harry's scar and why Voldemort didn't die when his killing curse backfired.

There are two reasons I can look at the manic success of the Harry Potter books and not be entirely consumed with envy:

1) When any children's book tops the book lists, it's good news for children's book writers, whose craft tends to be sneered at by literary types.

2) Success couldn't have happened to a nicer person.

So a hearty congratulations to Ms. Rowling, and could you please, please, please hurry up with Book 7? If you need help with editing the thing, you know where to find me.

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