Literary Inspiration: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I Open at the Close Collage

Look who finally motivated herself enough to finish a book series the rest of the world put to bed over 10 years ago!  Yay, I’m (still not remotely) current!  Really, though, I’m thrilled beyond belief to have finally crossed the final book in the Harry Potter series, the Deathly Hallows, off my to-be-read list in service of the third prompt in my friends’ 2018 reading challenge.

I will please virtually no one with this statement, but like all of the Harry Potter novels, I found the Deathly Hallows to be a deathly slow slog.  If you ARE one of the 86 bajillion people who read the novel over a decade ago when it was first published (or watched the films, as they’re really quite close in terms of both tone and structure) you know that the final book in the series details Harry’s efforts to stop an increasingly desperate Voldemort from forcing his violent nationalist tendencies on a terrified, unwilling populace.  Sound like anyone we know?  Along the way Harry and his friends are tasked with locating, and then destroying, Voldemort’s Horcruxes, physical objects tagged with bits of the Dark Lord’s murderous, fractured soul.  Once they’re disposed of, he’s nothing more than a mortal man, vulnerable and open to attack.

I Open at the Close 2

It’s in the hunt for and subsequent eradication of the Horcruxes that the Deathly Hallows gets terribly bogged down, lingering for 300 some-odd pages on a locket already in Harry’s possession that defies all attempts at destruction.  This passage goes on forever – it is an interminable slog of Apparating and wind-swept moors and Apparating ONTO wind-swept moors.  In a 607-page book with multiple major character deaths (spoiler: arguably THE major character’s (temporary) death) as well as three big battle sequences and a satisfying peek into the future, it’s a puzzling bit of pacing.  We’re in more than 450 pages before Harry, Ron and Hermione return to Hogwarts to kick off the final, epic showdown between the Dark Lord and the Boy Who Lived.  The long, lackadaisical tease of those first 450 pages followed by just 150 pages of frantic fighting and exposition makes for a jarring contrast.  It’s also why it took me four months to read the Deathly Hallows – because I was deathly unmotivated to continue.

In hindsight, some days removed from finishing the book, I can see that the seemingly endless literary slog had a purpose.  Had Harry, Ron and Hermione’s six-month search played out with seamless ease – say, flashing by in a series of condensed vignettes – we may not have gotten a true sense of just how taxing, frustrating and arduous their journey really was.  As it stands, we were with them for every false start, every near miss, every fake lead, every betrayal and every heartbreak.  I don’t know if there was a better way of conveying the sort of despair that results from a long, protracted fight in which you must carry on despite enjoying no victories, but I do wish it hadn’t taken up quite so much of the book.

I Open at the Close 5

Things I did like?  Voldemort proving once and for all what a toothless wussy he really is.  Voldemort suffers from the same problem in my mind as Darth Vader – both are more legend and reputation than actual threat.  And I positively loved that his ultimate undoing was thinking himself beyond the need to do his research and double check every facet of his plan.  You’d think if you were a hideously malformed megalomaniac making a vicious grab for ultimate power you’d at least take the time to educate yourself, do your research and get your friggin’ ducks in order.  Still sound like anybody we know?

Other things I liked?  A naughty little “It’s not the size of the wand” joke Ron makes towards the beginning of the book.  Ron and Hermione finally acting on their sweet, slow burn of a romance.  The epilogue.  Neville, Defender of the Meek.  Everyone finally realizing just how awesome Luna really is.  A longer explanation – actually, any explanation – of Dumbledore’s tragic past.  Always.

Things I didn’t like: Dobby’s death.  And not because he died – I’m glad he did, I friggin’ hated that shrieky house elf.  I just thought given how touching his death is in the film (I cried, and well…see above) the source material might grant his passing more than a handful of paragraphs, and none of that “dying with his friends” tear-bait business either.  Fred’s death (one-half of the delightful twin duo, Rowling, are you freaking kidding me with this crap?  That’s the suckiest move you pulled in seven books.)  The fact that the Dursleys never got their comeuppance.  Don’t know about you, but I generally like to see child abusers get their virulent (and in this case occasionally levitating) just desserts.

Another thing I don’t particularly like?  This nail art, depicting the hidden message and final puzzle piece inscribed on Harry’s bequeathed Snitch, “I open at the close.”  My cursive writing is not great here.  I was going for elegant and refined, and it came off more big ‘n’ bubbly, my everyday writing style.  Although this manicure does look so pretty glittering almost magically under the midday sun.

I Open at the Close 4

But by gosh am I glad to be done the Deathly Hallows, and indeed the entire Harry Potter series.  I never latched onto the novels, actually found Harry to be a snotty little know-it-all.  I far prefer Daniel Radcliffe’s film version of Harry – he’s a kinder, more thoughtful and reasoned young man than his literary counterpart.  But the world J.K. Rowling created, as reflected in the films and now various exhibits and attractions around the globe, is vivid, detailed and fully realized right from the very first page.  I think her knack for world-building is unparalleled, and I’ve always loved the Dickensian flair she takes in naming her characters.  I enjoyed the books, and particularly the Deathly Hallows, so much in that regard.  Ultimately, they were really enjoyable reads, and I’m glad to have finally finished the series so I can fully join the Harry Potter cultural zeitgeist.  All was well.

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6 thoughts on “Literary Inspiration: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

  1. Trumpets blaring, angels singing…FINALLY! I finished this tome a whole SIX months before you and can say from that period of reflection…you’re right ( total agreement about most issues.) I guess I didn’t hate or was even annoyed by those 450 pages because my favorite parts of the story are the trio just being the trio, except on the run. Perhaps they needed to pay their dues, there were quite a few unnecessarily convoluded mysteries to solve and risks to take. (They didn’t know the payoff that we did going in from the movies)
    I thought the way the resisters were portrayed was cool too, with the secret broadcasts and members of the order doing their bit. I would have liked to see more story time on that.
    Let’s see, when it comes to HP there’s always too much and you covered it so well, I’m just gonna throw out answers at random:

    Dumbledore’s backstory YASSSS!
    DOBBY-same. And I’ve mentioned it before , but didn’t know you felt that way. Which is why I get a kick out of Kreacher-the anti-Dobby.
    Ron made me laugh out loud a few times this book, when he wasn’t being a prig, so he raised up in my esteem but he’ll never be my fave Weasley, speaking of, Fred’s death sucked balls.
    Also, I cried at Hedwig’s loss and for Neville’s bravery. And I had a small sense of loss when it was all said and done, as opposed to your relief. I spread the books out as long as I could, 7 years and I will never have more of it to read, sniff.

    • Yes, the resister stuff – more of that, please. I liked everyone just telling Harry off already, like, “You’ve no idea what we’ve given up to get this far, it’s not just about you, you prat.” Someone needed to say it and he needed to hear it. Buffy went that route, too (interestingly enough, another Chosen One; seems they really tend to take the moniker to heart.)

      I remember when the final movie came out the reviewer in the local paper wrote about how it was really the end of an era, even more so than when the books ended because it was so complete, so final, and how she had woken up one recent morning to muffled crying coming from downstairs, runs down to the livingroom to find her 11-year-old daughter, sitting among her much-loved books, some held together with elastics, bawling her eyes out because it was really, truly over now and it wouldn’t be coming back. 😦 Broke my friggin’ cold, black heart, that.

  2. Back too soon. Forgot to mention I looked at your nails a moment, read them, realized what they said and f’in teared up. Legit teary eyes here, so yes they are magical and perfect and melancholy and, and…I’m done in more ways than one now.

  3. I can see some of your points for sure but I will forever live in the house of “happy with Harry Potter.” I love your nails. As this was one of the heart wrenching scenes that I could not stop blubbering like a baby about… when Harry asked if dying hurts. Oh man. Right in the heart. By the by, I loved my Harlow & Co experience SO MUCH I went back for seconds. I picked up more Polished for Days and two A-Englands (I had Lady of the Lake from ages and ages ago). I am smitten. Delivery was fast and everything comes perfectly packaged. Thank you for the heads up. I will be following along on your nail polish recs much closer. ❤

    • Yes, that’s awesome to hear (about Harlow, and that you were pleased enough with your order to go back for more, not about Harry Potter – I knew we’d differ on some points there!) I’ve always been so happy with their service – glad the promptness and great packaging extends your side of the border as well.

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