Title: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Author: J.K. Rowling
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Published: 1997 (Original) This edition: 2014
Special features: Map in the front of the book showing Hogwarts grounds
Price: £5.99 from Waterstones
This book introduces us to the character of Harry Potter and follows his journey of his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. At the beginning of the novel Harry had no clue of his magical past and was forced to live in a tiny cupboard under the stairs in his Aunt and Uncle’s house. Here he is forced to cater to their every need and is treated like a servant. On his eleventh birthday, Harry learns – from the help of Hagrid – that he is in fact a wizard just like his mother and father who were killed when he was just a baby by Voldemort – a name that is feared in the wizarding world. Travelling to Hogwarts he meets his soon-to-be best friend, Ron Weasley, and begins to learn about all things magic. Throughout the novel, the reader follows Harry as he learns how to cope with the different magical subjects, the teachers and Mrs Norris (the caretaker’s cat). The final showdown of this book is regarding the Philosopher’s Stone and how Harry, Ron and Hermione believe Professor Snape is trying to steal it. In the final two chapters of the book we see the trio fighting their way through the different spells and enchantments to stop Snape from stealing the stone. In the last but one room we see them playing a life-size version of Wizards Chess in which Ron sacrifices himself to allow Harry to pass into the next room. The final room sees Harry meeting the traitor – Professor Quirrell – who is standing in front of the Mirror of Erised, demanding for Potter to tell him where to find the stone. Harry looks in the mirror to see himself pulling the stone out of his pocket but lying to Quirrell to protect it. Quirrell then reveals that part of himself – hidden inside the turban he wears – is in fact Voldemort returning. In the end, Potter defeats Quirrell and saves the stone but this is the obvious return of Voldemort to the wizarding world and the start of Harry’s journey to defeat him.
I’m a late joiner to the Harry Potter phenomenon and at 19 years old I have finally read the first book! And boy, I have certainly missed out on something amazing up until this point. Although it is a kids book I feel as if I’m going to be rereading this gem way into my adulthood because it allows me to connect with my inner child and enables me to believe in the world of magic.
The film adaptation of this book – I feel – is a good interpretation of the novel however it does miss out some small details. For example, it misses out, even though a small conversation, the initial meeting of Fred and George Weasley with Harry. It’s small details like this that makes the world come to life even more and it’s truly amazing. I obviously had a good idea of the world because I have watched all the films, but reading the book has made it even more realistic and I can’t wait to immerse myself in the rest of the series.
The way Rowling deals with the topic of magic and making it seem realistic is truly amazing. I have read other novels where the inclusion of magic has seemed too far fetched thus making it impossible for me to imagine it being possible. However, the world of Hogwarts seems like a true life place where everyone who wants to, can escape to and will be accepted no matter what of their background and I believe this is a key ingredient in it being such a smash hit with everyone of all ages.
My rating: 5/5