Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

  • Rating: 5/5 Cats
  • Recommended for: Those Young At Heart or Wish To Be (i.e. Everyone)
  • Reviewed by: Cass

Warning: Spoilers Ahead (and some wizard puns)

Hazel is not amused at being interrupted during her reading for a photo

On to the next one! This 3rd novel of Harry Potter starts off with a bang: Harry blows up his Aunt Marge. While this doesn’t demonstrate the most control on Harry’s part (which fits with his character as we see in the future books), I thought it was hilarious. Honestly, Aunt Marge had it coming. She immediately gets on Harry’s back complaining about how he’s such a burden (yeah a helpless kid who is constantly bullied and underfed is such a hassle) w/ tainted blood because of his parents and only showing relatively happiness towards Harry, when Harry lies that he gets beat with a cane frequently at his (made up) delinquent school. I’m glad Harry didn’t get kicked out of Hogwarts for this disastrous act (some major favoritism is shown by Fudge here) and that he was able to get small amount of temporary revenge on Marge (even though she won’t remember it when her memory got adjusted).

I love Sirius Black. Until the end of the novel, you think Sirius Black is a new “bad guy”. He was BFFs of Lily and James Potter, the best man at their wedding, and the God Father of Harry. But he’s been in Azkaban for the past 13 years suspected of being the one who betrayed the Potters to Voldemort (by giving away their protected location that resulted in their murders). I thought it was fairly surprising to discover he has been loyal to the Potters this whole time and framed for their betrayal by Peter (what a rat). I also like how Sirius is smart enough (and cool enough) to change himself into a dog to lessen the severity of the dementors while in prison and maintain a shred of his sanity. It’s nice for Harry to have another “father figure” in his life, especially one as eclectic and unorthodox as a fugitive who frequently feels more comfortable in his giant black dog form.

Another great character who is introduced in this novel is Remus Lupin. He’s a scruffy, unconventional teacher of the Dark Arts who really takes Harry under his wing (or better yet he’s paw). He’s actually a legitimate professor who teaches the students how to defeat really interesting/cool magical creatures including boggarts, grindylows, and dementors (for special student Harry). Being an animal fan myself, I love hearing about the new creatures created by J.K. Rowling (including good ol’ Buckbeak the Hippogriff). Lupin’s life is complicated by the fact that he’s a werewolf but he handles it (with the historical help from his school friends and from Snape’s potion). I like how Lupin was best friends with James (Harry’s dad) and Sirius while at Hogwarts. While some people may have a problem with how James and the group acted when they were young (I agree they were bullies who liked to show-off to girls), I think this knowledge just makes them more human. Everyone was young and dumb once, and James is no different (regardless of the pedestal Harry placed him on). It’s also very impressive that James, Sirius, and Peter taught themselves how to become (unregistered) animaguses in order to comfort Lupin while he transformed. That raises the best friend bar for sure.

A character I absolutely hate (which I’m sure was the objective) is Peter Petigrew; a secret, pathetic evil genius rat man. Peter is the coward who betrayed the Potters to Voldemort. Even though Peter has been “magically challenged”, weaselly, and desperate to share the spot light with powerful wizards ever since he was a kid, that doesn’t give him an excuse to break the “secret keeper” oath and be an overall traitor. It was a pretty bitter moment when Peter escaped back to Voldemort (totally predicted by Professor Trelawney, who could’ve guessed), and Harry and Sirius’s brief idea at freedom was stolen away again. We’ll be following this evil side kick in the future novels to see if he worsens or has any redemption.

A character I wish was explored more and definitely needs to be talked about in a blog by CrazyCatLadies is Crookshanks. That cat is so sassy and so smart, she’s a ginger fur monster. I love how his insight is hinted at the entire time he tries to expose Scabbers for what he truly is and aids Sirius Black. When we find out Crookshanks is the one that stole the passwords written down by Neville (to get into the Gryffindor common room) to give to Sirius or knows where the secret button on the Whopping Willow is to deactivate the killer branches, I think my jaw dropped and my fist raised. Cat lovers unite about this feline empowerment. I just wished we learned more about who Crookshanks really is and how he is so special. Especially to because without knowing officially if he is an unique magical beast (which it is confirmed on some Fandom sites), I’ll be trying to train the famous cats of this blog (Hazel and Leo) to read notes and detect spies.

A new bit of magic that is introduced by Fred and George Wesley that is powerful and fitting to their personalities is the Marauder’s Map. Now that is a freaking cool piece of magic created by a group of highly intelligent Hogwarts students (Moony (Lupin), Wormtail (Peter), Padfoot (Sirius), and Prongs (James)). The fact that the twins used that Map to successful pull pranks around Hogwarts and avoid detection by Flitch is ingenious. I also think it shows a lot of who those two are as people that they gave that Map to Harry in order for him to use the secret passages to visit Hogsmeade (and no longer be left out from the trips). I know this magical article will show up again but am still amazed at how it can show every person’s location in Hogwarts, while having the ability to disguise itself to anyone yet those who know its secrets (*cough* *cough* Snape). “Mischief Managed!”

Another bit of magic that we have to talk about is Hermoine’s Time Turner; what a game changer. It’s so classic that Hermoine would have the power to literally go back in time and she uses it in order to take more courses. I can’t say much because I strive to be more like Hermoine in my everyday life but this is some serious magic that is simply loaned to her by McGonagall and the Ministry. Hermoine and Harry (with the guidance of Dumbledore) are total badasses for going back 3 hours in time in order to save Buckbeak from the executioner ax, save themselves and Sirius from the storm of dementors cascaded upon them at the lake (that Stag Patronus though), and save Sirius from the dreaded soul sucking dementor kiss. I think that is so cleverly written and love the image imprinted in my head of a smiling Sirius flying to freedom on the back of Buckbeak in the middle of the night with yells of frustration by Snape. (Aside: I am ultimately #teamSnape but not yet in the series; by book 3 I still think he’s a bully who takes away Harry’s happiness in any small amounts possible).

Overall, I loved this 3rd installment of Harry Potter. It’s got great new characters, good character development of our main ones, twists and surprises about the past and present of the wizarding world, and magic you’ve never imagined before. I know by now you may be thinking “wow is there any of this series she doesn’t give 5/5 ratings to?” and the answer is yes. You’ll just have to wait and find out which soon though because Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban gets full marks.

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