Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

J.K. Rowling

In the realm of contemporary YA fantasy, the HP series isn’t quite as well-written or nuanced as Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy (which will hopefully get a bit more attention from the masses this winter with a big film version of The Golden Compass). But Rowling definitely has her suspense tricks down, which I would venture is what makes these books so popular. Especially in this last installment, each chapter builds in a progression of increasingly tantalizing cliffhangers, and the knowledge that the very end is coming makes it all the worse. The occasional outbursts of heavy-handed schmaltz and recurrences of certain emo themes do get on my nerves at times, but overall I appreciate Rowling’s goofy humor and how she’s slowly brought such big darkness over this otherwise carefree world.

Nothing in this ending will come as much of a surprise to fans from what has been hinted, aside from the unfortunate deaths of certain beloved characters, which is inevitable considering how many fight scenes comprise the book. But there are enough final triumphs that balance out the losses. While the major resolutions weren’t far from what I expected, there were enough twists and turns to reveal how much of the story was crafted all along, from the very beginning. In the end, it feels like not just a coming-of-age story but a coming-to-consciousness.