Published by Bloomsbury, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the fifth instalment of the British fantasy franchise. Following the return of Lord Voldemort, Harry is left feeling alone after returning to Hogwarts. Most of his peers believe him a liar, due to the Ministry of Magic ensuring that the newspapers say that Harry has lied of Voldemort’s return. With senior Ministry employee Dolores Umbridge now also gradually taking over Hogwarts, Harry, Ron and Hermione realise that the students need to learn to defend themselves against Death Eaters, so they set up Dumbledore’s Army, a secret society in which Harry teaches some of his peers defensive magic.
- J.K. Rowling fills this novel with lots of detail, from the point of the spells which Harry teaches Dumbledore’s Army, to the interior design of the Ministry of Magic. Her attention to detail makes it possible to for one to visualise in their mind’s eye the wizarding world which she has created.
- This novel boasts the introduction of many new characters to the franchise, several of whom are brilliant. Dolores Umbridge is a deliciously sadistic antagonist; while Luna Lovegood is such a well realised soul, whom you cannot help but like. J.K. Rowling also provides a welcome return for Remus Lupin, explores in greater depth Harry’s relationship with Sirius Black (his godfather), and fleshes Neville Longbottom out into a brilliant character.
- There are several quite exciting, and/or suspenseful moments in the narrative. These include a chilling encounter with Dementors, Harry venturing into the Forbidden Forest to meet Hagrid’s half-brother (Grawp), and the breathtakingly detailed climactic duel between Dumbledore and Voldemort.
- While it does feel slightly tacked on as an afterthought, the climax has a good message about how there will always be something worth fighting for, even in the bleakest of times.
- J.K. Rowling’s writing style is the worst that it ever has been, which reflects the fact that she took some time out from writing in the three years before this novel’s publication. Her writing style is very verbose, and does not flow at all well, meaning that it is far from as engaging as that of the previous four books.
- A lot of this book’s content could be cut, and by that I mean the narrative. At 766 pages (original UK edition), this is by far the longest Harry Potter book, and a number of things which happen in the (supposed) climax, among other parts of the narrative, could easily be removed. It ultimately feels as though J.K. Rowling went for as much filler as possible, in order to surpass the length of The Goblet of Fire.
- There are great new characters, such as Dolores Umbridge, but there are at least as many poor new characters introduced. Such examples include Zacharias Smith (who serves no real purpose), Mundungus Fletcher (who is one-sided), and Marietta Edgecombe (whose conception was kind of unnecessary, as the subsequent film adaptation proved). As for Dumbledore’s Army, while I have always appreciated the fact that so many of Harry’s peers were willing to believe him, the list of members feel almost like a tick-list of very, very minor characters.