Photo ©J.K. Rowling
In this Instagram week’s poll, we asked what people’s favorite Harry Potter book was. After the first day, the top two were chosen and in the end, “The Goblet of Fire” (GoF) came out victorious!
This summer will mark the 20th anniversary of J.K. Rowling releasing the fourth book in her bestselling Harry Potter series. At a whopping 734 pages (US edition) it is easy to see how this book would catch the eye of the reader. An obvious reason is the introduction to more elements of the wizarding world through the Tri-Wizard Tournament and the Quidditch World Cup, but a stronger appeal is the transition away from being a children’s book.
There has always been a dark tone in the Harry Potter series, I mean it is about a child whose parents were murdered before his very eyes in an attack meant to kill him, but it isn’t until GoF that we really see how far Rowling is willing to take it. The first instance is in Professor Moody’s first Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson. In it, he talks about the three Unforgivable Curses and Harry watches a creature experience the same fate as his parents. On top of this, we learn about the Cruciatus curse which was used to torture Neville Longbottom’s parents to the point of insanity and he too watches it in action. There are other small moments like this throughout the book, but the real turning point is at the end when Harry and Cedric enter the grave yard. This is when everything changes, and I personally feel like the series begins. Cedric is killed, simply for being a “spare”, and Voldemort rises again. As soon as Harry escapes from Voldemort’s latest attempt to kill him and clings to Cedric’s body, we know that the second wizarding war has begun.
Beyond the story, the sales alone show the excitement and love that the fans of the series feel. GoF broke countless records in one day and sold more than a third of a million copies, almost as many as “Prisoner of Azkaban” (PoA) sold in its first year (PoA sold 68,159 copies in its first two-and-a-half days).
While many are critical of J.K. Rowling and her books, Harry Potter has become a part of our world and lives in a way that most series have not. Even the people who have not read the books (or watched the movies) have heard of “the boy who lived” and “he who must not be named”. These books and the characters that reside in them are an escape and comfort to millions of readers and will continue to be for many, many years.