Category Archives: Books

Suffer the Little Children: Why Harry Potter Must Be Punished

Why_Harry_Potter_Must_Be_Punished_pink

It turns out that Umbridge was doing the right thing. Not for Harry, of course – that poor kid had enough on his plate – but for the story.

Our blood boils when we think of the torments and indignities forced upon young heroes like Ender Wiggin, Sara Crewe, Matilda Wormwood, Pip and countless others…yet their stories are the ones to which we return. The most beloved child protagonists are also the ones who suffer the most, and Harry Potter is no exception. The truth is that he would never have achieved such status in the hearts and minds of readers had JK Rowling not tormented him with all the relish of a sadistic kitten. …read more

Ron, Hermione, and a question of Choice

Why Ron and Hermione had no choice

Corner anyone who’s read the Harry Potter books and ask them to name the predominant theme; chances are, ‘choice’ will come out on top. If they’re a proper fan, they’ll drill down still further, explaining that our choices don’t just reveal who we are; they determine who we are. This deceptively simple idea (which winds up being a chicken-and-egg scenario if you think about it too hard) is conveyed so effectively that you’d be forgiven for thinking that free will is both ubiquitous and all-powerful in the Harry Potter universe. Only it isn’t. JK Rowling, while obviously a champion of willpower and choice, throws her hands up and discards the rulebook whenever it comes to one single element:

Love.

That’s why I find it so odd that anybody would worry too much about JK Rowling’s recent statement, in which she admitted that a relationship between Ron and Hermione makes about as much sense as an invisible, carnivorous skeleton-horse that also flies and can understand directions. …read more

The Cuckoo’s Calling: the true crime is the marketing

The Cuckoo's Calling

Last year (and like many others), I was caught up in the media flurry that resulted from Robert Galbraith’s unveiling. After reading articles on literary worth, the flawed nature of the publishing industry, and a whole bunch of topics that entirely obfuscated the merits of the book itself, I figured that I had very little to add.

However, one thing did catch my eye, and it has less to do with the book than its shiny wrapping. …read more

The Art of Seduction

The Art of Seduction

One of my pet hates is ‘literal’ writing. You know the kind; great descriptions, a well-structured plot, believable characters, fantastic ideas, and absolutely no compelling reason to keep turning the page. The story simply conveys information without plumbing the depths of meaning, giving it a stale, paint-by-numbers feel. …read more