(Spoilers blanked out)

Of course, that could be a doubtful statement. But only if you wanted to discuss the credibility of rumours such as the one saying J. K. Rowling signed a contract for 8 Harry Potter books, not 7. Saying Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows IS indeed the last book with Harry in it will do for now, and in my current kindly and condescending mood (likely due to my sage knowledge of what it is like to come to the end of a beloved, long-followed and vicariously lived series … I sat for hours staring out my window after finishing Fool’s Fate, the last of Hobb’s Fitz-Fool books. God, I loved those books.) I’m in no mood to start arguing that Rowling hasn’t had enough of the bespectacled boy-hero.

So what do you think of it?

Mixed feelings. Generally, though, I have a negative response to it. I’m pretty disappointed. And I’m disappointed that I am disappointed.

In retrospect, I’ve been rather unfair to Rowling and Harry Potter. My responses to the books tend to swing between the apathetic to the caustic, but then again, most of the time I have reasons for my aversion, solid reasons that others share with me. I was carrying this unfriendly history and a rather sceptical frame of mind when I began reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – so if you don’t care to read yet another disparaging review by a weary reviewer who’s firmly convinced she’s read better books, and better fantasy, then perhaps you should start looking elsewhere…but no, WAIT! I started this paragraph with a veiled apology for being prejudiced against Rowling. I shall conclude this paragraph by explaining why I’m apologising: because Snape’s revelations was a pretty masterful piece of writing.

Let’s talk about what I’m more comfortable talking about. The BAD aspects. (Rowling fans, skip this and go straight to my reluctant obeisance to the Snape Revelations) Overall, I think it did fair enough as an ending novel. Tied up all the loose threads, summarily and efficiently addressed the Snape question, both killed and let live Harry Potter, destroyed evil and restored calm and even threw in a couple of kids named after fallen warriors- ah, wizards and witches. In other words, it fulfilled its role as a typical closing book; nothing controversial or extraordinary that will have the masses arguing and throwing forks at one another. Rowling didn’t have all of them die in a tragic train accident that locked them all into some parallel wizards/witches only world *thinks Narnia*. Then again, to my disappointment, she didn’t do anything in particular at ALL. She just ended it. It was kind of like going for the firework extravaganza back on the eve of the new millennium, if the fireworks had all stopped after the third second into the year 2000. Let’s see…*does a bit of mousework and window-popping* …approximately 1/80th of the book was devoted to the aftermath of Harry and Voldemort’s showdown (which turned out to be mostly a tossing back and forth of words that boiled down to ‘You got pwned!’ ‘No, see, I did THIS weeks ago and therefore pwned YOU then!’). What happened to the teachers at Hogwarts? McGonagall? Flitwick? Did they go on teaching? Who took over as Headmaster? What eventually became of the Dursleys? What happened to Dean, Lavender, Seamus? And what about Luna Lovegood, in my opinion one of Rowling’s (few) fine creations – whose fate we so dearly want to hear involves lots of triumph and pride and success? Most of all – how does George Weasley endure never having his twin around again? I’m sure that was a thought passing through a lot of our heads when we read Fred’s death: “Oh NO! What about George now?” I don’t know about you, but I’ve always felt that you can’t take one twin from another, without any consequence at all to the other twin. All those questions are left, frustratingly and depressingly, unanswered.

Instead, we get a brief snapshot that tells us only that Harry, Ginny, Ron and Hermione at least are happy, and hints that Teddy Lupin isn’t as sad an orphan as he could have been, that Arthur Weasley is still alive, that Hermione’s daughter is also intelligent, that Draco married and has a kid, and has never seemed to achieve friendly terms with Harry, Ron and Hermione; and the only bit of real other-character info we get is that Neville is Herbology Professor at Hogwarts. Hey, I like peripheral vision just as much as I do what’s right in the centre. Others do too.

There was some passably clever logic involved in the real showdown though. I had to read it a few times to work out exactly how the threads fell, which is good, especially for a plot-reliant book like Harry Potter (let’s face it, the language isn’t going to win a Somerset Maugham prize anytime soon), but it wasn’t brilliantly executed, just smart enough to prevent the fight from devolving into the brainless melee. Basically, Harry wouldn’t have stood a chance in a real duel, and he was just lucky that he’d happened to have disarmed Draco Malfoy a little earlier on. It was still followed by a fairly predictable exchange of greenlightredlight icurseyouyoucurseme, though. *Sigh*

So the showdown, aftermath and epilogue was mediocre, felt incomplete, and was, uh… *searches for tactful word – and gives up*…cheesy.

The reason I’m not fuming mad is that for me, the book had already had it’s cork-popping conclusion for me: Snape’s revelations effectively concluded my Harry Potter experience. You see, I’ve only been reading Harry Potter for Severus Snape. He is by far and away the most intriguing character in the series, and I’m sure a great proportion of you readers agree with me that you always thought there was more to him than meets the eye. (You did, didn’t you!? *attempts a piercing glare*) And Rowling did an admittedly very good job in resolving Snape’s mysteries. In fact, she did a *grudging tone* really good job with Snape. Somehow, after hiding the truth from us for all those years, a single chapter explaining Snape’s motivations didn’t seem too much, too late; it fits in with Snape’s presentation to date, and you might recognise a subconscious suspicion of the truth within you all this while. And yes, after 7 books of pretty unremarkable text and dialogue, I finally found something that clings quotable to my mind, even if it may be limited to how long I adore Snape… (and this is from memory… ๐Ÿ˜› )…

Dumbledore watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded, he turned back to Snape, and his eyes were full of tears. “After all this time?”

“Always,” said Snape.

Ah, now there I had to grin. Isn’t that beautiful? Terse, smooth, very simple, and very definite, and indefinite, all at once. Snape couldn’t have meant more and said less. And with that single word, he wins millions of real human hearts to his side. Awww. Wait, I’m not done being impressed with J. K. Rowling. She even threw in a little wit, doing in Snape by snake-bite. *wry smile* And the fact that Snape still had a few choices on hand when Voldemort expressed his ‘regrets’ and lifted his Elder Wand – Snape could have revealed that he and Dumbledore had planned Dumbledore’s death by Snape’s hand, and therefore Snape didn’t really have the Elder Wand’s power after all. But of course, that would have revealed Snape as a double agent, and Voldemort could never have let him go alive, now could he? There was also a little sad irony in that he only got his reprieve as a good guy after all, after his death. Though he probably didn’t care about being seen as good or evil at all; from his memories, it looked like Snape only really cared for Lily Evans and what she thought of him. Hmm, and Snape’s sensitivity about being thought cowardly also stems from his love for Lily – the Slytherins’ reputation as cowards versus the legendary bravery of Gryffindors. Hence you have Snape’s ‘stricken’ expression when Dumbledore muses that perhaps they Sort too early. Oh, I did have a great time reading The Prince’s Tale.

Thing is, I have a love-hate relationship with these kind of anti-heroic, tortured souls. My weak feminine heart turns to marshmallow mush around them, because I love them so. Too much…and if I do, I end up subscribing to fanlistings and my hand threatens to involuntarily write fanfiction about them. So you’ll understand just how impressed I am with Rowling that she can induce me to be so attached to one of her characters that I now refuse to speak more about Snape in this review. Ahem.

The rest of the novel was disappointingly mundane – it lacked the tension of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. You might think that since the circumstances are much more dangerous than they were in book 4, it’d have a great deal more tingling suspense, thrumming immediacy, or just – you know, presence to it, but I felt curiously detached, and was in fact annoyed on several occasions where Ron and Harry and Hermione spent their precious time bickering like kids over the last cookies in the jar, instead of being those last cookies in the jar, fighting to live. (OK, cookies don’t exactly get to fight for the their right to life. They’d expire anyway.)

I did like the change in atmosphere – there was distinct new flavour to the book, having the majority of the scenes set outside of Hogwarts. It was release for both the characters and the readers.

One thing that bugged me was that I couldn’t see much point for there having to be a race of Giants at all. What is the point of having giants if they don’t have a gigantic effect? They were hardly more noticeable than the house-elves. (Go, semi-hobbits!!)

Oh, and I must mention the deaths. Rowling went a little mad, I think, in her last book – she seems to have felt an urge to write a ‘mature’ last novel, now that her readers will have grown up since the first book’s publication, and her idea of maturity involves plentiful fresh corpses. Never mind that Snape’s death was an elegantly manufactured thing. I didn’t quite see the need to kill one Weasley twin without detailing the effect that must have had on the other twin – why kill a twin, if not to demonstrate the duality/unity relationship between twins? And while I suppose a death couldn’t have been avoided during Harry’s move from the Dursleys, the later deaths of Tonks and Lupin were a bit hard to digest. I felt rather like they had become immaterial, rather than they were actual characters who were now dead characters. I didn’t feel their deaths, if you know what I mean. I suppose they also suffer from the ignominy syndrome – being left out of the aftermath. There wasn’t even much of mourning, other than a brief cameo in Harry’s exhausted afterbattle daze. What a pity. Lupin was another fascinating character.

Finally – Albus Severus Potter? … … …

… … …

I don’t think Snape would have been too pleased to have known his name was being combined with the family name of his hated foe, James, the man who’d stolen his childhood sweetheart…Nor would he have been pleased that he’d been sandwiched in between so thoughtlessly.

Perhaps there’s some more of Rowling’s cheek in that Albus Severus Potter makes the initials A.S.P… asp. A snake. … … … heh.

*sighs* A series concluded. Let’s get this over with and stick a rating on it.

***1/2. (inclusive of an additional whole star and a half for Snape’s Revelations)

Now go ahead and lambast me for being a dreary and exhausting and prejudiced conceited @$)*!. Just bear in mind that I scored The Lies of Locke Lamora ****, a mere half a star more than Harry Potter Book 7, and I wholly, end-to-end, enjoyed Lynch’s tale of high adventure in a gritty fantasy world. I may have found criticism, sure, but it was found with a much more discerning eye than the one I glanced Harry Potter over with. Of fantasy novelists, only Robin Hobb, and Susanna Clarke have ever scored the full ***** from me, and that was because I could very practically conceive writing a whole thesis on character, theme, imagery, and concept – each. I suppose you can’t fairly and reasonably compare modern England with a few magical enhancements to historical England with a whole footnoted elaborate history of its own English magic, or to the alien richness of the Rain Wilds – but you can just put Harry beside FitzChivalry, beside Stephen Black, and see what little you have left of Harry after these heroes of true narration are done with them.

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