Author: J.K. Rowling
It's Harry Potter's 5th year at Hogwarts. Lord Voldemort is on the rise. Harry dueled him at the end of last school year and lived to tell the tale. His friend Cedric Diggory wasn't so lucky. Unfortunately, apart from Dumbledore and a few loyal friends, no one believes Harry. In fact, the Ministry of Magic is actively working to discredit both Harry and Dumbledore. Meanwhile, Harry's having horrible dreams, from Voldemort's perspective.
Worst of all, it is the year of Dolores Umbridge. She is the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher and also the Ministry-appointed High Inquisitor at Hogwarts. She's an authoritarian nightmare. A student of mine is also reading the series and she reports that everyone in her fandom chat group hates Umbridge more than Voldemort. In the years since the first time I read the book, I've worked for people like Dolores Umbridge. It isn't fun.
Important developments in Year 5:
- Order of the Phoenix brings Harry deeper into the adult wizarding world. Over the summer he learns, while staying with Sirius, of the Order, the underground group of Dumbledore's supporters. His parents were members of the original group. The new band includes the Weasleys, Sirius, Lupin, Moody, Hagrid, Snape, McGonagall and a few new faces, including Kingsley Shacklebolt and Nymphadora Tonks.
- Luna Lovegood, a delightfully loopy Ravenclaw student, is introduced.
- Ron has a couple of unexpected glory moments: becoming a prefect and, eventually, a reasonably capable keeper for the Gryffindor quidditch team. Being happy for his friend becomes part of Harry's growth, too.
- In Hogsmeade, we get to visit a teashop, Madam Puddifoot's, and a sleazy pub, The Hog's Head.
- Harry's still a terrible date.
- At Hermione's urging, Harry teaches several of his schoolmates Defence Against the Dark Arts, picking up the slack from Umbridge's worthless lessons. The study group call themselves Dumbledore's Army.
- The Weasley twins drop out of Hogwarts in spectacular fashion and open a highly lucrative joke shop with Harry's financial backing.
- We learn why Snape is resentful of James, Harry's father. And he's not wrong to feel that way. It's not fair for him to torment Harry in retaliation but he's not wrong to hate James.
- Neville Longbottom gets some excellent development. We learn more about what happened to his parents and we see just how devoted he is to the cause of fighting the Dark Lord.
- As noted previously, Ginny is my favorite character in the series. Odd choice, right? After all, she never gets much material, at least not until The Cursed Child. Here's why I love Ginny: she's the student least inclined to put up with Harry's shit. Even Hermione and Ron tend to tiptoe around him. Not Ginny. Not anymore. There are some nice Ginny moments in Phoenix. The first shot across the bow: she's the one who calls Harry out for being an idiot when he won't talk to anyone about his fears of being possessed by Voldemort. Ginny points out that she's the only one he knows who actually has been possessed by You-Know-Who and knows how it feels - stops Harry in his tracks. She also replaces Harry as seeker when young Potter gets kicked off the quidditch team.
Before I go, I offer a few treats from our Harry Potter LEGO advent calendar. We had Star Wars LEGO and Nightmare Before Christmas Funko calendars, too. Harry Potter was the best of the three as it adhered to a specific story, the Yule Ball from Goblet of Fire. Star Wars was more of a hodgepodge and Nightmare didn't include a particularly wide range of characters. By my count, there were seven different Jack Skellington figures.
|Left to right: Harry, Hermione, Ron, Cho Chang, Padma Patil, Parvati Patil|
|Beauxbatons' Carriage and the Durmstrang Ship|
|Luke, Harry and Rey discussing the burdens of the Chosen One narrative - note Golden Egg next to Harry on the couch.|
|Sally commiserating with the Patil twins over their lousy dates.|
|Ron complimenting Poe on his sweet new ride. Poe thanks him for the Weasley sweater.|