Warning: Spoilers for the Harry Potter series.
This past week, I finally finished my Harry Potter reread, and what an emotional rollercoaster its been! I hadn’t reread this series in years, but I’m glad to say it’s just as amazing as I remembered, and just as poignant at the end…
I literally can’t imagine ever not enjoying returning to the world of Harry Potter, no matter how many times I’ve read it.
If you haven’t already read my previous ‘Rereading Harry Potter’ posts, you can catch up here:
And if you’re all caught up, then let’s talk about the heart-breaking final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Let the crying commence!
My Thoughts Whilst Rereading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows:
- So the Voldemort scene at the start is intense…
As if you didn’t already know how serious the situation is in this final book, or how high the stakes are, J.K. Rowling makes sure to remind you as soon as you open this book.
The scene at Malfoy Manor is pretty intense, with the Muggle Studies teacher from Hogwarts being murdered, Voldemort intimidating and mocking his own Death Eaters (it’s nice to hear that Tonks and Lupin got married, but did we really need to hear it for the first time when Voldemort is being horrible to Bellatrix?) and the Death Eaters plotting to murder Harry (thanks to Snape’s information!).
- The last scenes in Privet Drive are oddly sad.
Privet Drive is a place Harry has hated throughout the books (and we’ve hated alongside him as readers!), yet there’s something really poignant about Harry recognising he’s there for the last time, walking around the rooms, and even looking into his old cupboard under the stairs. I mean, we’ve followed him all the way from being a neglected 11 year old boy living in that tiny cupboard, to a 17 year old wizard who is the only hope for defeating the darkest wizard of all time… How crazy is that?
And his goodbye to the Dursleys is even kind of sad. Not really with Vernon or Petunia, but Dudley questioning why he isn’t coming with them, and shaking his hand is actually very sweet.
- Harry hates the plan, and I can see why…
As Harry came to the conclusion at the end of the last book, person after person has tried to protect him from Voldemort, and died in the process, so you can see why he isn’t keen on the seven Harrys plan. But, it is pretty smart!
And I do love the scene where they all transform into him, particularly the twins looking at each other and saying ‘Wow – we’re identical!’
- The action starts early in this book!
This last book, despite the odd lull, does seem to go at breakneck speed, and the attack of the Death Eaters on the seven Harrys plunges you straight into some high-stakes action. It’s genuinely pretty horrifying when they all rise and are immediately surrounded!
And don’t get me started on Hedwig’s death…the heartbreak also starts early in this book!
- It’s so tense waiting at the Burrow for everyone to show up…
It’s literally such a tense scene when Harry and Hagrid arrive back and find that some of the others have already missed their Portkeys. Even rereading it, you’re kind of anxious, especially when Lupin arrives with George, whose ear has been cursed off. Again, the stakes are being laid out early by Rowling with beloved characters getting seriously injured.
And then of course you find out Mad Eye is dead. Whilst it isn’t the most emotional death in the series, it’s still a reminder that more people are going to have to die yet, before the war is over.
- Preparations for the Horcrux-finding mission!
You’ve got to love Mrs Weasley’s technique of trying to keep Harry, Ron and Hermione apart so they can’t plan or prepare for their Horcrux mission!
I think it shows the dedication of Ron and particularly Hermione to their mission and their intent to stick with Harry to the end, that they have made preparations for their family’s safety. Ron has bewitched the ghoul to look like him with spattergroit (which sounds pretty repulsive!), and heart-breakingly Hermione has charmed her own parents into forgetting about her existence…a charm that will hold and keep them happy should she die.
I like that in the darkness Rowling still includes touches of humour though, such as Ron joking about hunting Voldemort down in a mobile library, when Hermione is packing her books!
- Bill and Fleur’s wedding.
It’s also nice to have a wedding happening in the midst of the darkness, although there are a number of significant things that happen at the wedding that come into the plot later.
Firstly, Harry hears more about the ‘truth’ about Dumbledore and his family from Elphias Doge and Aunt Muriel, which of course, becomes a pretty big subplot in this book. And you see the symbol of the Deathly Hallows for the first time on Xenophilous Lovegood’s robes, although at the time, Krum says that it’s Grindelwald’s mark.
- Of course the happy occasion gets crashed by the Ministry/Death Eaters!
The happiness predictably doesn’t last for long, as the trio have to flee from the wedding, apparating to Tottenham Court Road. You’ve got to admire Hermione’s forward thinking though, having packed everything into a small beaded bag. I couldn’t help but think how incredibly useful it would be to have a bag like that, which looked tiny, but could fit tonnes in!
- Return to Grimmauld Place.
Grimmauld Place is a setting that immediately takes me back to Order of the Phoenix and the heart break of Sirius’ death. Particularly when Harry ventures into Sirius’ room and finds the letter from his mother to Sirius, and you remember again how much Harry has lost (it’s also sad when you know in hindsight that the missing bit of letter with Lily’s signature on it was actually taken by Snape).
Their return also means finding out about the true locket Horcrux and the fate of Regulus Black, and it’s pretty heart-warming when they present the other locket to Kreacher, and he is absolutely beside himself with happiness!
- The fight with Lupin.
Lupin is a pretty calm and collected character throughout the books, and has always got on well with Harry, so I’ve always really hated the bit in this book where he and Harry have that huge argument!
Whilst I think it’s pretty cowardly of Lupin to try and run out on Tonks and the baby, I understand his reasoning, and I think there was probably a nicer way for Harry to make him go back to them.
- Infiltrating the Ministry.
Again, we get some exciting action in the scenes where they infiltrate the Ministry of Magic, which is now under Voldemort’s rule. Throughout the books we’ve seen the trio sneaking about school, but never has it mattered so much that they don’t get caught. This is their hardest sneaking mission yet!
I also like how you get a snapshot in these scenes of what the Wizarding World would be like under Voldemort’s control, with the Muggle-born persecution etc., as it shows what they’re fighting against.
- And, the trek around the countryside begins!
I think some of the most hopeless moments in this book are the ones where they’re moving about the country in the tent, with no real idea of where to look for more Horcruxes. Especially as tensions start to rise between the three of them when there’s no food, and it becomes clear that Hermione and Ron thought Harry had known more than he had said.
- Ron walking out is heart-breaking!
The argument and Ron walking out on them is such a horrible moment in this book! Especially because he’s being so honest, and pretty cruel to Harry, and Hermione is crying, and begging him to stop.
The three’s friendship has definitely had rocky patches throughout the books, but this is the worst, and in a way it’s hard to forgive Ron for this one. When you look back at the series, this is the second time he’s turned his back on Harry when he’s needed him most (the other being after his name comes out of the Goblet of Fire), and in a lot of ways, I think it makes Hermione the better friend?
However, at the same time it makes him seem like a realistic, flawed character, and he always has clear motivation for what he does (being jealous of the attention Harry gets, being jealous of Harry’s friendship to Hermione etc.).
- And the heart-break isn’t over: Godric’s Hollow.
There’s a brief raise in spirits when Harry and Hermione finally come up with a plan to visit Godric’s Hollow.
But there’s something really sobering when they arrive and it’s Christmas Eve, and they’re away from their families and friends on a hopeless mission. And then of course they visit the graves of James and Lily Potter, and see the ruins of the house where Harry lived with them as a child.
I literally started tearing up at the bit where Harry imagines how different his life could have been if they had lived: he would have grown up there, could have had friends over in the summer holidays, and had a normal life where he was loved. There’s also a bit where he is standing by their graves that really breaks my heart, and that makes you realise just how hopeless Harry is feeling:
’And tears came before he could stop them…He let them fall, his lips pressed hard together, looking down at the thick snow hiding from his eyes the place where the last of Lily and James lay…not knowing or caring that their living son stood so near, his heart still beating, alive because of their sacrifice and close to wishing, at this moment, that he was sleeping under the snow with them.’
- A very near miss!
The scenes with Bathilda are literally so creepy, and it’s a terrifying scene when she turns into Nagini, and they barely escape with their lives. Not to mention Harry’s wand is broken in the progress, making their bleak situation even bleaker.
- The doe, the sword and Ron.
But thankfully, at the darkest hour, Rowling gives us a lift! Ron returns and saves Harry from the water after he follows the silver doe, and they successfully destroy the locket Horcrux! Hooray!
It’s a pretty intense scene though where Tom Riddle taunts Ron when Harry opens the locket, and it really shows his insecurities as a character. Despite everything, you really feel for him, and you’re just so happy that he’s reunited with the other two (even if Hermione is furious with him!).
- Godric’s Hollow 2.0
Their excursion to see Xenophilius Lovegood is another disaster, but at least they do find out about the Deathly Hallows! This does lead to a bit of a conundrum for Harry though, as he becomes obsessed with the idea of the Hallows. Even knowing Dumbledore’s explanation at the end, I’ve still never got why he didn’t just tell Harry about the Hallows, and tell him to concentrate on the Horcruxes instead!
- I love Potterwatch!
I’ve always loved the scene where they listen to the Potterwatch radio show! It’s nice hearing from the likes of Lupin and Fred, and getting a catch up on the rest of the Wizarding World, seen as they’ve been isolated. And I love that Hagrid had to flee Hogwarts for throwing a ‘Support Harry Potter’ party! He’s just the sweetest!
- Getting caught by Greyback!
This book really is a rollercoaster! I had forgotten how up and down it is in terms of being really dark, and then uplifting!
After the uplifting mood of Ron returning and hearing Potterwatch, things go from good to very, very bad, when Harry forgets and says the Taboo name, and they’re caught and hauled off to Malfoy Manor. Bellatrix freaking out about the sword buys them time, but the sound of her torturing Hermione whilst Ron and Harry are locked in the cellar is absolutely horrifying!
Thankfully it’s Dobby to the rescue!
- NO! PLEASE NOT DOBBY!
Poor, innocent Dobby! Rowling should have a reputation for character cruelty akin to George R.R. Martin’s for this death alone! It’s very sweet that Harry insists on digging his grave properly though, and so is the description he puts on the gravestone: ‘Here lies Dobby, a Free Elf.’
- The reunion with Lupin.
Again, we’re fed that bit of hope! I love Lupin bursting in at Christmas and announcing the birth of his son, and how incredibly proud and excited he is. Not to mention the fact that he asks Harry to be godfather.
And I love Harry thinking after he has discussed breaking into Gringotts with Griphook that he’s likely to make as reckless a godfather to Teddy Lupin a Sirius Black was to him.
- Gringotts and the great escape!
As if the Ministry thing wasn’t crazy enough, they successfully manage to break into Gringotts and get away with the Horcrux! It’s kind of insane when you think that they’re 17 years olds, managing what much older wizards have never done.
- Aberforth and the truth about Dumbledore.
I love that Dumbeldore’s past is explored in this book, but it’s such a sad story!
- Yay! Reunions!
One of the things that I always think makes this book feel different from the others, is that Hogwarts isn’t the main setting, so there’s something very comforting about them returning to Hogwarts at the end.
I love all the reunions when they reach the Room of Requirement, especially with the new, more badass Neville, and how the Order of the Phoenix starts to show up for the final stand!
- The Battle of Hogwarts!
The Battle of Hogwarts is just so incredibly epic! It really does make for an insane climax to the series as a whole, with virtually every character still alive playing a part. McGonagall is rallying the troops with the other teachers and evacuating the school, Hagrid and Grawp are kicking ass, the members of DA are duelling, Ron and Hermione are finally smooching (you’ve got to love that they finally kiss after Ron shows concern for the house elves in the kitchens)…it’s all going on.
Against this backdrop, Harry and co. manage to find and destroy the Diadem, and Harry even saves Malfoy’s life in the process, which is pretty nice of him considering! Although I did feel a little sorry for Malfoy in the last two books, so I’m glad he didn’t die.
- Why are you so cruel J.K. Rowling?!
And in the midst of it all, something awful happens. I remember reading this section with literal disbelief…how could Rowling kill off Fred Weasley?
The twins are a double act throughout the book, and the thought of one without the other is unthinkable…but of course the unthinkable happens, and it happens so fast, and it breaks my heart every time! However many times I read this book, I still always cry when Fred dies, the effect never lessens. I think this is one of the saddest deaths in the series.
- Snape’s revelations.
As if I wasn’t already depressed enough after Fred’s death, all the Snape stuff breaks my heart alll over again. Really, when you think about it, Snape has technically had the most tragic life of everyone in the book, except maybe Harry: he was a lonely, unloved child who fell in love with his best friend, only for her to fall in love with his enemy, and die horribly at the hands of his master. Then he had to turn double agent, ally with Dumbledore, kill Dumbledore, and then endure everyone thinking he’s a bad guy.
There’s a reason the whole ‘“After all this time?” “Always”’ thing is so commonly quoted in relation to this book…it’s one of the most moving moments, to realise that a character as supposedly unpleasant as Snape did everything he did for love.
- Harry accepting his own death.
Harry has always been a brave character throughout this series, but never is that clearer than when he finds out he has to die for Voldemort to be defeated. Even though he is terrified, there’s never a question that he’ll do it, and you find yourself following along with him – like his parents, Sirius and Lupin – and wanting to comfort him in some way. Again, as with Fred’s death, even upon rereading, when you know he’ll survive, you still can’t get over this scene, and what Harry goes through.
I had stopped reading for a few hours after Fred’s death, but upon picking up the book again I’d managed to keep my composure until the point where he reaches the forest. But the bit where his parents, Sirius and Lupin appear always gets me, and as soon as Lily Potter said “You’ve been so brave”, that was it! I was bawling all over again! This book seriously left me an emotional wreck!
- The afterlife.
The scene in the afterlife with Dumbledore is such a surreal moment in the series. The theme of death has been consistent throughout the series, but the fact that J.K. Rowling directly tackles it in this way is so brave I think!
It’s nice to see Dumbledore again though, and have him give Harry some comfort and guidance, and the fact that he is so incredibly proud of him is heart-warming.
- The final showdown.
The Harry Potter books, despite their darkness, are also incredibly hopeful, and no moment is as epic as the final showdown, where good finally triumphs over evil. I love that for all his power, Voldemort has never understood the power of love, and that’s what defeats him in the end.
I think it’s a nice twist that Harry’s sacrifice means all the people in the school cannot be killed by Voldemort and the Death Eaters, echoing the sacrifice his mother made for him. Voldemort’s death is the ultimate satisfying moment, and is a worthy climax to an incredible series.
- Nineteen years later…
I love, so much, that J.K. Rowling included this chapter! It makes the happy ever after so much more complete, and there’s a beautiful, circular nature to the story that Harry’s son Albus is in the position he was, back in the very first book: heading to Hogwarts for the first time.
Overall Thoughts After Rereading The Series:
- There’s a reason this series is a modern classic!
I don’t reread books often, partly because I’m always scared that some of my favourites won’t live up to my memories of them. I reread the Harry Potter series constantly as a child, and always loved them, and after this, I can safely say I still love them.
They’re a classic for a reason: because they tell a fantastic, beautiful story of magic, friendship and the power of love. They aren’t afraid to go where most children’s books are afraid to go – into death, grief, and horror – but they’re also wonderfully funny, imaginative, and heart-rending. No other series or book has ever had me laugh out loud, sob and rage like these books, and Harry, Ron and Hermione will always live on in my mind as some of the best characters and best book friendships ever.
These books are largely responsible for my love of reading, and even my love of writing, although reading them makes my heart hurt because I know I’ll never be able to write anything this amazing! For all the flack J.K. Rowling is receiving of late (understandably so, in some cases!), she captured the imaginations and hearts of a generation of children, and I don’t think any other series will achieve what Harry Potter did in my lifetime.
So what are some of your favourite Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows moments? What do you think makes this series as well loved as it is (or do you think it’s overrated?)? What does Harry Potter mean to you?