With the penultimate novel in the saga—Half-Blood Prince—we know that things must become much worse before they can become better and reach resolution in the seventh and last novel. We should thus expect that it will be chilling in unmatched fashion, and I shall argue that it’s the scariest of them all! Let’s take an eerie walk through the dark corners of Half-Blood Prince, to places seemingly devoid of light or hope . . . .
Though not quite my favorite book, The Order of the Phoenix is definitely the scariest in the Harry Potter series. The fact that two of us raised our hands to speak for it says much, but like its doppelgänger, Prisoner of Azkaban, Phoenix’s fear is primarily psychological and therefore far more upsetting than its more externally-focused counterparts. Continue reading
Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire – Book 4 – has the absolutely scariest scene in the entire series… forget the vicious Hungarian Horntail… forget the grindylows and the merpeople with their grey skin, broken yellow teeth and wild green hair leering at Harry and shaking their spears… forget the eerie disappearance of nearly everyone Harry cares about: Ron, Hermione, Cho… the SCARIEST thing about what I think is the scariest volume in the series is that just when Harry and Cedric appear to have victory at their fingertips, they are jerked away from the maze, from Hogwarts, and portkeyed to the creepiest, most dangerous location yet: the Little Hangleton graveyard.
“They were standing instead in a dark and overgrown graveyard; the black outline of a small church was visible beyond a large yew to their right… It was silent and slightly eerie.” Dark shapes approach, walking steadily through the graves, and Harry’s scar explodes with pain. Cedric is struck and Harry is captured. “The short man in the cloak… was dragging Harry toward the marble headstone. Harry saw the name upon it flickering in the wandlight before he was forced around and slammed against it. TOM RIDDLE.”
Great. I have to be the first person to disagree with J.K. Rowling–and possibly with everyone who read Deathly Hallows’ Bathilda Bagshot chapter at four o’clock in the morning after a midnight release party… oh, wait, I did that, too. That was terrifying.
But I well remember being afraid to read Chamber of Secrets in anything but the broadest of daylight. Ah, Chamber of Secrets. How do I fear thee? Let me count the ways:
- It’s more or less a murder mystery with a psychopath at its center
- Said psychopath likes to leave creepy messages on stone walls in finger-painted rooster blood
- There’s cold, hungry, murderous, disembodied whispering that only our hero can hear
- People and cats are getting Petrified
- There are snakes. And Harry discovers he has a Dark wizard’s gift in being able to talk to said snakes.
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All Hallows’ Read is fast approaching. If you’re wondering what scary book you should be giving to family, friends, and random folks on the street, all of us at The Hog’s Head agree that Harry Potter would be a great choice. What better time than All Hallows’ Read to give someone a book about witches and wizards battling scary stuff?
Ah, but which one though? Which Harry Potter book is the scariest, creepiest, shiveriest, flesh-crawlingest, heebie-jeebiest one of them all? And here, all of us at The Hog’s Head can’t agree at all! Or hardly. We’ve each got a favourite shiver, a most prized behind-the-sofa moment, a top candidate for the jibblies from our own most feared book, and we’ve all got suitably chilling reasons why.
Several weeks back Mr. Pond posted about an All Hallow’s Read. For reasons beyond his control, he was unable to put together the list of books and stories he came up with. So, by his request, I’m putting up the list here. Unfortunately I’ll only be able to list the titles without any Skull Ratings (TM Red Rocker) or any commentary on the stories and their suitability for different ages. But I must needs return to watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show. 🙂
Here’s the list:
Halloween marks the occasion of the death of Nearly Headless Nick (a.k.a. Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington), which was caused by having been “hit forty-five times in the neck with a blunt axe” (CoS p. 123).
We find out in Chapter 12 of Chamber of Secrets that October 31, 1992 is Nick’s five hundredth deathday. Hoping that Harry will attest to Nick’s being impressively frightening so that he might be allowed to join the Headless Hunt, Nick invites Harry and his friends to his Deathday Party. Ron skeptically asks a good question: “Why would anyone want to celebrate the day they died?” And Hermione characteristically looks forward to what she can learn from the experience: “A deathday party? . . . I bet there aren’t many living people who can say they’ve been to one of those—it’ll be fascinating!” (CoS p. 130).
With Hermione’s inquisitive spirit, let’s have a go at wrestling with Ron’s question. Is there something more going on here than a chillingly gothic setting for the horrors to be unleashed by the re-opening of the Chamber of Secrets?
It’s not particularly Halloweenish–though The Hobbit certainly has its creepy moments–but perhaps owing to the upcoming first The Hobbit film, Tolkien seems to be in the news a lot. This week, we’ve got Buy Cheap Viagra Onlineilynews.com/blogs/pageviews/2012/10/harpercollins-to-publish-jrr-tolkien-epic-poem-next-year”>HarperCollins announcing publication of a never-before-published epic poem by the good professor, USA Today weighs in on why we still love The Hobbit, Blastr has 17 little known facts about Tolkien and his work (did you know he was briefly kidnapped as a baby? I didn’t), Warner Bros. is creating a couple of free online Hobbit games, and a man from Bainbridge Island, WA, not far from where yours truly lives, has built a Hobbit-like house.
On that last note: whimsy, often very enjoyable whimsy, appears to be making the rounds. Example A: Introvert fairy tales. Also, The Weather Channel thought it would be fun to start naming winter storms, and especially fun to use mythological names–which include Draco, Luna, and Gandolf (yes, spelled that way; named after a different fantasy character, apparently, but their chosen namesake is hardly the one everyone will think of.) Author Shannon Hale recently hosted a competition looking for the best pictures of boys reading ‘girl books’ and got an enthusiastic and rather adorable response. A very well-done Simon and Garfunkel filk on Battlestar Galactica has hit the interwebs: The Sound of Cylons. And I find myself wondering whether this customer is unusually uninhibited, or if she just lost a bet.
Meanwhile, Rowling claims her next book will be for children, and English professor Ben Yagoda credits her with introducing a lot of British words and phrases into American common speech. (I know I use “nicked” and “mental”, “ginger” and “snog”, and occasionally even “effing.” Don’t you?)