Book Review: Carrie by Stephen King

A little bit late so I apologise but it is finally time to discuss the end of the Carrie Saga with the novel which started it all, the book was released in 1974 and was the first published story by Horror writer Stephen King, it sold tremendously well after the first movie adaptation in 1976 and is known to be one of the most banned books in schools due to its violence, underage sex and the use of fowl language and drug use. I will also point out here the use of racism which would be frowned upon today I wont say what the racism was but its context was used to describe how fat someone’s lip was after being punched so you can figure that one out for yourselves!. Times were different when the book was written so while it its still isn’t right we wont be criticising King or the publishers over it.

We are comparing this to the adaptations I have reviewed so there will be heavy spoilers !

Carrie White is a very unfortunate person, she is overweight, covered in spots and is bullied relentlessly by the other girls in her school, in a very famous scene she has her first period (very late) and freaks out while naked in the girls locker room, Chris Hargensen the schools Queen Bee gets all of the other girls to join her in mocking Carrie “Plug it up” they all shout as they begin to pelt the poor child with female sanitary products laughing and cruelly mocking her before they are stopped by the Gym Teacher Miss Desjardin.

This bullying is an everyday occurrence for Carrie and she never gets a break after school she has to face her over religious mother Margaret White who forces her to pray and abuses her power by locking Carrie in a cupboard when she thinks she has sinned, the period is one of these moments as her mother believes that she has turned away from God and committed sexual acts, tasting the forbidden fruit similar to the story of Adam and Eve.

The relentless bullying and abuse causes Carrie to become emotionally distraught eventually leading her to discover a Telekinetic ability she has had passed down from her father, her mother knew about her powers from birth and resents Carrie as she believes she is a curse from God after she committed adultery by having sex before marriage.

Margaret Whites character is given some backstory in the book being outcast by her family due to her intense religious views, she is also described as much older in the book and as we have discussed previously is killed by Carrie stopping her heart. The way this particular murder is written is actually quite creepy with Carrie whispering that she will send her to the darkness to be judged by whatever God she finds there.

Carries powers are explored in more detail in the book including a scene where as a little girl she causes giant rocks to fall from the sky destroying her family home, this was shown in the 2002 TV movie as well which I will give that adaptation some credit for even though I really didn’t enjoy it.

Speaking of characters I wasn’t huge on Sue Snell in the book, there isn’t many differences between her role in the films and the book but in the novel she is definitely a little bit more self-centered and while she is the only girl to feel bad about how she treated Carrie there is definitely a vibe that she only sent Tommy to take Carrie to prom to ease her guilt more than to make Carrie feel less like an outcast.

The prom massacre in this is actually quite quick and a little disappointing considering that she kills almost everyone by electrocution and finishing off the remaining few by setting the building on fire.

Chris Hargensen and Billy’s death is much more satisfying in this similar to the 2013 film the car is lifted from the ground and flung into a building (the road house hotel) and blown to smithereens, both characters in the book are pure evil Billy is a real bastard who beats Chris and even tries to rape her at one point, Chris is known to be quite the psychopathic bully and not only to Carrie, it is mentioned in the book that she once hid a fire cracker in another students show blowing off two of her toes and she only got out of any legal trouble thanks to her fathers position as a very well respected lawyer.

Chris and Billy actually fill two buckets with blood in the book and one is meant for Tommy Ross who neither have any problems with so they only really did this for no reason at all just going to further show how neither of them care for anyone and are just very sickening individuals.

The books ending sees Sue Snell finding Carrie White dying and she holds Carrie in her arms as she takes her final breath, I really liked that the book continued after this to show how the events affected the town having a lot of the store owners taking out insurance claims to give up their shops and the local bar becoming quiet as the town folks are all shaken up after the events of the massacre.

The book also uses a lot of character interviews through police investigations which was a nice touch and it also has chapters from the perspective of other characters such as Sue and Chris.

I really enjoyed this book and struggled to put it down, it is a very easy read due to Kings writing style and how he doesn’t focus on many unnecessary elements, he is telling the story of the events of Prom Night and does an excellent job of documenting this while keeping readers engaged and wanting more.

I have come to the conclusion that the closest adaptation is the 2002 TV movie, it has the most parts from the book but doesn’t offer too much more compared to the 2013 film and we all know which of those I would recommend.

The original 1976 film is still the best way to watch Carrie which is odd because compared to all three movies and the musical it is actually the least accurate with its story telling, my recommendation would definitely be to read the book as it is very good and then watch the 1976 version as that holds up very well on its own and is genuinely an excellent Horror Movie.

I am very eager for some more Stephen King so the next book I will be reviewing is his second novel Salem’s Lot so please look forward to that.

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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K Rowling

The Order of the Phoenix is the fifth book in the Harry Potter franchise, it was written by J.K Rowling and released in the summer of 2003. This will have spoilers so if you don’t want to see those you may want to skip this

In the book Harry is facing the ministry of magic in a wizarding court after he casts magic outside of school to save his cousin Dudley from the dementors kiss.

Before the hearing Harry is collected by a group of wizards and witches known as the Order of the Phoenix who take him to number 12 Grimmauld Place the childhood home of his god father Sirius Black. The Order of Phoenix is a secret organisation created by Headmaster Albus Dumbledore with the goal to fight against Lord Voldemort and his Army. The order has gained many members over the years but some of the most recognisable names are Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Abefore Dumbledore, Mad Eye Moody, Lily and James Potter, Arthur and Molly Weasly and Nymphadora Tonks.

After the trial a new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher called Delores Umbridge was hired at Hogwarts, as a member of the Ministry of Magic she believes herself to be of a much higher hierarchy and while she puts on a sweet natured appearance she is actually one of the most sadistic and evil characters in the franchise.

Of course Harry does eventually manage to get his name cleared when evidence that he was defending Dudley is brought to light but its quite clever how this trial plays into the beliefs and emotions of other characters. Some students start to believe that Harry may have killed Cedric Diggory during the Tri Wizard Cup and due to strange dreams he is having which all end up becoming true even Headmaster Albus Dumbledore keeps his distance for the majority of the school year even though it was for good reasons explained much later into the novel.

Delores takes a particular dislike to Harry Potter during detentions she make him write lines that would then cut into his arms and wrists leaving him bleeding and in pain, she even goes as far as to attempt the cruciatis curse but is quickly stopped. For those who don’t know the cruciatis curse is one of the most dangerous illegal spells due to its intense pain and eventually turning its receivers to insanity, the most famous case was how it was used to torture and destroy the minds of Alice and Frank Longbottom.

Another character worth mentioning here is Grawp the half brother of Hagrid, Grawp is a full blooded giant but is still considered short in stature for the species, in the book he lives in the forbidden forest and is being taken care of by Hagrid, Grawp has some serious communication difficulties and struggles with understanding his own strength and peoples personal boundaries.

Of course the book also very sadly gives us the murder of Sirius Black who was killed by Bellatrix la strange in the department of mysteries. This death always hits me quite hard since Sirius Black is easily one of my favourite characters in the franchise.

Some of the differences to the movie worth highlighting are that once again in the movies I think the fact that in the book both Ron and Hermione become prefects is worth mentioning, of course Sytherin gets Prefect Draco as well giving the bully even more power than hes ever deserved.

In the film Neville steals one of Dobby the House Elf’s biggest moments that being the discovery of the Room or Requirement where Harry eventually teaches students how to produce protronuses and other difficult spells as he build Dumbledores Army.

A change that really caught me of guard was that in the book Cho Chang is not the person who told Umbridge about Dumbledores army and infact it was actually another Ravenclaw student called Marietta Edgecombe.

Another detail left from the movie was the reveal that Umbridge sent the dementors after Harry Potter as the Ministry didn’t want the return of Voldemort to become public knowledge, just going to show how evil she really is and how messed up the Ministry can be as well.

Overall I did enjoy this book but so far it has been my least favourite and it just never grabbed my attention like previous titles in the series. Coming back to Harry Potter from the last book this was disappointing in the sense that it just kinda drags in places and is a little hard to follow, it just seems like so much is going on and its hard keep track at times. It does have some great action sequences and one of my favourite villains being Umbridge, also the scenes that show Snape’s past with Lily Potter are very well written and show the potions master in a much more sympathetic light. I also think its important that James Potter was shown to be a bully to Snape as it does really explain his hatred towards Harry since his birth practically brought on James death along with Lily leaving Snape heartbroken.

I would argue that this is a really good book but I just much preferred the Goblet of Fire and just hope that the 6th book in series manages to become a new favourite of mine.

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Book Reviews: The Devils Whispers by Lucas Hault

I was very kindly sent this book by the publisher TCK Publishing.

Here is a link to their website and a link to purchase the book on Amazon

A famous Lawyer Gerard Woodward is requested to visit Lord Mathers to discuss his final affairs as he lays upon his deathbed.

This professional visit quickly becomes a nightmare when Gerard notices odd behaviours around the castle, he is locked in his room every night and is forbidden to explore without supervision.

After climbing across the castle walls from his window Gerard finds access into the castle and soon realises that he has been trapped amongst some of the most despicable and evil creatures he has ever come across.

These creatures are called Xana and originated from Asturian Mythology and often disguise themselves as a woman to lure in lonely young men.

This book is very heavily inspired by Dracula and has a lot of similarities it begins in a castle with the protagonist, a professional man trying to sort out legal affairs and in both books this protagonist soon realises the sinister activities that are at play.

In Dracula the vampire cannot stand garlic and in this book the Xana cannot stand onions, both stories also use diary entries to tell the story from the perspective of various people.

In light of the author this diary style is a lot harder to write than you would expect, it takes a lot more planning than a standard book due to the fact of having to focus on various writers you need to change styles in order to fit said person and their perspective of events. Also making sure that everything that is written makes sense while always ensuring that you can consistently switch narratives without getting mixed up or lost in your own explanations and story telling.

Lucas Hault actually writes these diary entries really well, it was actually quite nice to read another book in this style as I think a lot of authors are intimidated by it, personally I haven’t read a book like this since Dracula so I appreciated to go back to this style and to see it written so well.

The book has not had the best reviews, I did a bit of research and found that a lot of people were complaining that it was so similar to Dracula and while I do agree that it definitely needs to be looked at for a re-write in this aspect, I also think a lot people are not giving credit where it is due.

The book comes across like a fan re-write of the Bram Stoker classic but it is creative in a lot of areas, first of all the choice to use a folklore creature is a very unique idea and not what I expected, also when the story gets interesting it does get you hooked. The problem I have is that the beginning and ending of the book completely held my attention but the middle segment really seemed to drag and quickly became uninteresting, I found myself enjoying Gerard’s character and even though I enjoyed the writing when other character were telling their diary pages I just wanted to go back to Gerard’s again and see what he was doing.

So this leaves me at a bit of an awkward moment because I cant really say that I fully enjoyed this book, I read it twice just to make sure and my opinion still stands that Lucas Hault is a good writer, his writing style is fine he is a new author and will get a lot better over time. This book could have been something really unique if it had a little bit more originality the Xana being the creature is great but it definitely feels like Lucas Hault read Dracula and then decided to have a crack at it himself, he had a somewhat original story but its structure is too close to a much more better written and historically beloved book which The Devils Whisper does not in anyway come close to even competing with.

I will end this with a message to the Author, Lucas you have talent and clearly you are creative but if possible I recommend a re-write of this so that it can have a much clearer identity and wont be compared to what its inspired by. If you decide to write another horror I would recommend trying to do something different than is expected, try and write something which does compare to other stories and one day you very well could find yourself a very successful author.

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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire is the fourth book in the Harry Potter series, it was released in 2000 and is the first larger book in the series with a page count of 636.

The book follows Harry Potter in his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, this year Harry’s names is slipped into the Goblet of Fire which forces him to compete in the Triwizard tournament, a deadly competition with students competing from various magical schools.

Every year the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher is replaced, in the Goblet of Fire it is Alastor Moody who is nicknamed Mad Eye Moody. Mad Eye Moody a rather scary looking fellow and a famous Auror has a threatening and serious demeanor about him, by the end of the story you realise that he has a connection with another character from the book and is maybe more menacing than he already seems.

Madma Maxine a temporary love interest for Hagrid is worth mentioning as well as the meddling Reeta Skeeta a writer for the Daily prophet.

There are three tasks to the Tri Wizard tournament and these were best parts of the book for me as they really helped to add more intense moments and changes in the environment from the usual Hogwarts castle. My favourite task was the second task where the Champions had dive into Hogwarts Lake and rescue the person they cared about the most, for Harry it was Ron however Hermione was to be rescued by Durmstrang student Viktor Krum.

The book differs an awful from the film and a lot of changes in the movie completely mess with the lore of the Harry Potter universe, an example of this is the choice that while Beauxbatons school takes in the majority of European Withches and Wizards, in the film it is female only making no sense what so ever. Dumbledores reaction to Harrys name being entered into the Goblet of Fire is completely different in the book as he comes across as more calm and doesn’t get as angry as he does in the film, the final task is a lot more interesting in the book as the film took out many of the creatures, riddles and traps due to time constraints. The film cut out Dobby the house elf and a house elf called Winky who played major roles in the book. Hermione’s sub plot fighting for house elf rights was also cut from the film.

The final major change I feel I should mention is that the Dance lesson in the film was not in the book at all and was a new addition.

What a fantastic read this one was this is easily my favourite Potter book yet but I do wish they adapted it better to film, this is where the series starts to get really serious and is the first book to not end on a happy note, it leaves the reader nervous about whats to come and unsure of if they should be worried or not and I love it because of this, If I had any complaint Ron Weasley is fairly unlikable in this book due to his fallout with Harry, I can understand why hes upset but it comes as childish and slightly annoying.

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Book Review: A Better Life by Isobel Scharen

A huge thankyou to the Publishing Push for sending me a review copy of this book.

I love being sent stories that I wouldn’t often pick up because it gives me an opportunity to explore new genres. A Better Life is a story that focuses on a young Singapore woman named Ada who not long after getting married is thrown into a world of struggles, chaos and heartbreaks.

I believe that a book that makes you feel for the characters and can bring emotion to the reader is one of the most difficult things an author can write, its easier in film because you are able to see exactly what the director wants to portray but when it comes to writing its not easy to make someone feel emotional just by reading. I commend Isobel Scharen for being able to write such a powerful story that is guaranteed to make you feel something, for me it was sadness for Ada and her struggles and the things she had to sacrifice in order to keep herself and her family safe.

I really cannot fault this book at all, I was hooked from the beginning, I will admit that I enjoyed the story more at around the half way point because that’s when things started to get really serious and we begin to see how badly the war affects the main characters and the lengths they have to go to just so that they see them selves survive the horrors of the war and how it changes their lives.

I felt that the romance was very well done in this story, often books come across as a little cliche and cheesy but this feels like a real relationship, the dialogue between characters in the book is also very realistic, this helps the reader to build connections with the characters which again will help the reader to feel emotions in the text.

I have to recommend this book because it really is one of the best I have read in a long time, I often go for more lighthearted and well known stories but now and again it is nice to read something different, I didn’t give away too many details in this review as I would like to encourage people to go and read it, below is a link to the UK amazon shop where you can pick up a copy.

Thanks again to the Publishing Push for sending me a copy of this book

I hope you enjoyed this review of A Better Life by Isobel Scharen

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Book Review: The Witches by Roald Dahl

The Witches is a children’s novel written by British Author Roald Dahl, it begins in Norway after a young boys parents have died and he has been left under the care of his grandmother, his grandmother tells him all about the dangers of witches and how to spot them amongst humans. In this book witches are child killers that use magic to murder children in very discreet and clever methods such as turning them to stone or trapping their soul in a painting.

Later on in the book the boy and his grandmother end up holidaying in the same hotel that the witches of England are holding their annual meeting where he overhears a plot to turn all of the children in England into mice.

Will the boy and his grandmother be able to stop the witches and save the children of England?

You will have to read the book to find out 😉

What an excellent read this was although I must point out that it is rather dark and has themes of death, murder and coping with the inevitable, there is also a lot of tobacco use and alcohol in the book, without spoiling the ending it was happy but did have a darker tone to it than most children’s novels.

The characters in the book are all very simple but at the same time wonderfully imaginative thanks to the mind of Roald Dahl, the witches were in my opinion the best part of the book both equally funny and scary enough to not quite give you nightmares but send a chill down your spine, the grandmother was another favourite character of mine as I enjoyed her sense of humour and odd view of the world.

I would recommend this even if you have seen the 1990 film adaptation because while there are similarities the book differs in many ways that you could class them as two different versions of the story especially considering the light hearted ending of the movie compared to the original story.

As an adult I cant say that I enjoyed this as much as I did when I was younger but I would still recommend this to any young persons wanting an excellent book to read.

I hope you enjoyed this review of The Witches by Roald Dahl

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Book Review: The Hunger Games – Catching Fire

Only two years late on this one, here is my review of the first book

https://ragglefragglereviews.com/2018/01/23/book-review-the-hunger-games-by-suzanne-collins/

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The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy, it was written by author Suzanne Collins and was released in 2009.

After successfully winning the 74th Hunger Games Peeta and Katniss return home to District 12 where every seems back to normal until she recieves a surprise visit from President Snow who was unimpressed with Katniss actions against the capitol and now wants her to convince the districts that it was out of love for Peeta.

Without spoiling too much of the plot I will say that I vastly enjoyed this book more than the first, there is a lot of intense and emotional moments in this story and I would argue that this is the book that really shows how messed up the Hunger Games truly is and how sinister and psychotic behaviour is the source of its creation.

There are a lot of deaths in this book that definitely did not need to happen but were necessary to show the immense power the capital has over the districts of Panem. In the first book it didn’t really show an emotional and human side to the other competitors but in this story you really feel for everyone that is involved and are left not only rooting for Katniss and Peeta. There is also a look into past hunger games which helps show us how the characters such as Hamish survived in previous games.

Overall this is an emotional book that is at times scary and even gruesome but you really feel sorry for the characters almost as if you are watching the games yourself, I do wish that I never waited so long to read this one but the third and final book I am going to finish at some point this year so look forward to that.

I hope you enjoyed this review of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

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Book Review : The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L.Frank Baum

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was the first book in a series of stories by L.Frank Baum, later reprints of the book took the name the Wizard of Oz instead which was the title of a highly beloved Broadway musical adaptation of the story.

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In the story a young girl called Dorothy who lives a grey and boring life in Kansas gets transported to the colourful world of Oz when she and her dog Toto are picked up in a cyclone.

The house they were in lands on the Wicked Witch of the East and kills her, an event which attracts the Good Witch of the North, Dorothy explains how she wants to go home and is encouraged to follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald city and seek the help of the Wizard of Oz.

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This all sound very similar to those who are familiar with the 1939 film starring Judy Garland, however I was surprised with how different the book was to this film adaptation.

I don’t want to give away too many of differences but I would like to talk about some of them with as few spoilers as possible.

The biggest surprise is the lack of a Wicked Witch of the West, she is in the book but only appears in one chapter half-way through the story so after her demise the groups journey is still not over.

There are various different lands and species in this book that do not appear in the film, one area that stands out is a land that is completely made out of porcelain china.

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A pre-warning that the book carries quite a heavy body count of various creatures that are slain by the four heroes of the story (Scarecrow, Lion, Tin-Man and Dorothy), these are not too graphic but younger readers may find them a little bit disturbing.

I love the 1939 film but I think I prefer this version as I felt that this adventure was so much more interesting and intense. I loved the character developments and the conversations they would have, one of my favourite moments in the book was when the Tin-Man and the Scarecrow were debating whether its better to have a brain or a heart, the characters have back stories in this too explaining how they became the way that they are, the Tin-Man’s backstory is particularly quite tragic.

This is a wonderful book and to be honest I was expecting to read a story I already knew and was pleasantly surprised when I read this and it was almost completely different and that reason alone is a great reason to pick up a copy and check it out for yourself.

I hope you enjoyed this review of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L.Frank Baum

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Book Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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The Hunger Games is the first in a trilogy of rather gruesome books written for Young Adults, the book takes place in North America however it is now a large city called Panem, Panem has twelve districts within its borders and each district is controlled by the Capital, the districts are all slightly different for example one district may focus heavily on coal mining while another may focus more on harvesting crops, these districts tend to be filled with lower and middle class citizens while the upper class who can afford a life of luxury live in the Capitol.

The Capitol holds an event every year called the Hunger Games and during the event two tributes one boy and one girl from each district are chosen at random to take part in a  live event where they will fight to the death in order for both them and their families to be able to live a better lifestyle by moving out of the district and into the Capital.

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The main protagonist of the series is Katniss Everdeen a 16 year old girl from District 12, Katniss lost her father in a coal mining accident and due to her mother being very sick has too put all of the food on the table and takes care of both her mother and little sister Prim, The first Hunger Games book is a thrill ride from beginning to end, in my opinion it only gets really good once the actual Hunger Games begin, its during the games that you get to see the strengths and weaknesses of each character although the book mostly follows Katniss on her journey, the book is a lot better than the movie in my opinion as I felt that the characters were better presented here and also certain events were better written than they were portrayed in the film.

The Hunger Games is emotional, tragic and intense all the way through and its bound to keep you interested, at some points I got so lost in the book that time would just fly by without me realising, its one of the best books I’ve read in a long time and it is a great start to my Reading schedule for 2018

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the second book in the Harry Potter franchise, the book was written by one of my all time favourite authors J.K. Rowling and it was published in book stores on the second of July 1997 just one year after the release of its predecessor.

As a child the Chamber of Secrets was my favourite book in the Harry Potter series and at the moment that opinion is still the same, Harry’s second year at Hogwarts spawned many of my favourite characters and moments in the story, I would say that the most memorable for me would be Gilderoy Lockhart the new defence against the dark arts teacher who is a snobby, big headed and manipulative liar which is written to be obvious to the reader at first but throughout the book you start to learn of some of the more horrid things he has done to become as famous as he is, of course you cant forget the introduction to the Whomping Willow either, the Whomping Willow is an extremely violent tree that lives on the Hogwarts Castle grounds, its notorious for attacking anyone or anything that comes near it by swiping at them with its massive branches and in most cases causing very serious damage, then there’s Harry’s weird first encounter with Dobby the house elf and finally you cant forget that this book also reveals the true identity of Lord Voldermort who had not been completely defeated at the end of the first book.

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Speaking of the first book it should be noted that the second entry in the series is much darker and is therefore mildly scarier in comparison, the book deals with some rather grizzly topics including the murder of a student, hearing voices, numerous students being petrified by an unknown force and certain creatures wanting to devour the flesh of Harry and Ron.

If you are a fan of the Harry Potter movies then you may be interested in reading the second novel since a lot of moments in the book were missing from the film adaptation, in particular my favourite chapter “The Deathday Party” where Harry, Ron and Hermione join the ghosts of Hogwarts in the dungeons to help celebrate Sir Nearly Headless Nick’s day of passing is one of my fondest memories of reading the Chamber of Secrets as a child, on top of this J.K. Rowling yet again does a fantastic job of making all of the characters lovable apart from the the more villainous ones and when the mystery of the book is finally solved it actually links back to the early chapters which is great because not only does that prove that J.K Rowling didn’t just throw together some half arsed answer but the reader is able to actually solve the mystery themselves before the answer is revealed which only makes the book worth reading even more.

Thank you for reading this review of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

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That was the last review for this month but April is going to be entirely dedicated to one of the most influential film directors of all time so look forward to that.