Disclaimer: Were it possible to give a book more than 5 stars, I would have done it for this one. This is not only my favourite series of all time, but my favourite book of all time. I have therefore been rendered completely incapable of even structuring a proper review or commenting about literary devices or character development coherently. It is really just a collection of thoughts regarding how amazing Harry Potter is and how much I adored (and still adore) Deathly Hallows. Aside from the epilogue. Because Harry never ended up with Ginny in my mind ;)
The the most highly anticipated book of my childhood, and arguably most people's childhoods (for those born in the late 80s or 90s at least), Deathly Hallows was the one which ended it all. Up until the start of this book, there were so many unresolved questions as to the nature of Harry's power, how Voldemort could possibly be defeated without Dumbledore around, and what would happen to all our favourite characters (with the knowledge that at least some of them probably wouldn't make it to the 607th page). Here, JK Rowling (in my mind) resolved so many of those questions by tying up an entire seven book series in a way which was neat, premeditated and meticulously planned.
I hear you nagging critics, yes, for the first half of this book there is quite a bit of camping. But it isnt boring, because it's packed full of character development alongside gripping side trips to Godrics Hollow, Malfoy Manor, the Ministry of Magic and Gringotts for Merlin's sakes. The planning, the trials, the tribulations of the golden trio as they venture into the dark world of magic under Voldemort's control are not only action packed and absolutely thrilling, but are cleverly planned. There is no question that although the best laid plans never seem to go the right way, JK Rowling has an explanation for how Ron, Hermione and Harry manage to evade capture. And yet, they don't even always evade capture. Sometimes they stuff up (when Harry broke the taboo I hit myself on the head multiple times - stupid Harry!) and they pay a heavy price. The stakes are far higher now, after all. I love that the trio, although ultimately successful, aren't bulletproof. They make mistakes, they abandon each other, doubt each other and argue incessantly. And yet, they make it work because they are fighting for far more than their own safety or well being. They are fighting for the ideological belief in freedom and equality, and I think that message goes far beyond just a fantasy world of magic.
One thing I loved in regards to character development in Deathly Hallows was that all major characters were faulted. Dumbledore took a significant topple from his pedestal in this book with the revelations about Grindlewald, Ariana and Aberforth (both the true and the fictional). He is revealed as far from the perfect, guiding mentor which he had been built up to represent in previous books, and when Harry and him meet in what Harry perceives to be Kings Cross, we see for the first time a meeting of equals. Harry is, in some ways, far better a man than Dumbledore. Yet, it is through Dumbledore's mistakes that we see his true wisdom - learning from his mistakes and his application of cool logic and magnificent emotional intelligence in reading others. These qualities portray him as the true leader that he was, and yet, his imperfections bring him down to a level which the reader finds much less intimidating and in a way, far more likeable.
Another example of faulty characters is Ron, who abandons Hermione and Harry on the quest. His hot head and under exposure to hardship leave him temporarily cast off as a weak character. However, Ron's redemption was in his desire to return, see his mistakes and rectify his shortcomings. In the end, he appears just as valiant and brave as Hermione and Harry in the defeat of Voldemort.
Another theme running through Deathly Hallows (and the series in general), is the idea that very few of us are bad to the bone, and that in the most cases, dark and light exist in everyone. A clear example of that here is the Malfoys - clearly on the wrong side of the fence with their loyalties, they begin to understand the ramifications of the choices they have made, even if it is mostly due to their own fall from grace. The familial relationship which bonds the three however, set them as redeeming in their own way. Despite their chequered history, the power of love still exists in Narcissa, Draco and to a lesser extent, Lucius. This enables them to be set apart from characters such as Voldemort and Bellatrix, who have seemingly lost almost all ability to empathise, love or relate to others.
Again, JK Rowling shows her proclivity for empowering female characters by her choice of Harry's unlikely allies. If not for Narcissa's desperate desire to protect her son and risk her own safety at the expense of it, Harry would not have been able to return to finally vanquish Lord Voldemort. It is again, a woman who appears as a quasi-hero. Interestingly, it is also a very flawed female character who does this. Rowling also displays that despite women such as Narcissa and Molly fulfilling day to day duties as housewives and mothers (as compared to Aurors, Ministry officials or other "powerful" figures) they nevertheless harbour the power and strength to do extraordinary things which change the course of the entire plot. Despite the protagonist being a male, the Harry Potter series has its foundations firmly set by the women who support it. Molly, Lily, Hermione, Minerva, Tonks and now Narcissa are just a few of the powerful female influences and game-changers.
We couldn't talk about Deathly Hallows without speaking of the Prince, and his backstory which takes centre stage in some ways. The story of Snape, his enduring love and ultimate sacrifice may seem convenient to some critics, but really ties in a lot of the open questions regarding his true nature and loyalty. It explains the open disdain for Harry, and yet an overwhelming commitment to serving the light. Snape is more than redeemed in Deathly Hallows, but is revered. The hero without the acknowledgement that he truly deserved, and potentially the most tragic figure in the entire series.
If you truly love Harry Potter, I bet you will/have cried reading this book. It is full of death and loss, as well as redemption and love. It has to be at least the 20th time I've read this book, and yet, I can't hold back the tears for Dobby. It's an example of how poignant this book truly is as the end of the series. The death of some of the best characters are so tragic, but in some ways necessary. There couldn't have been a war without loss and I have to admit, I kind of liked how the marauders were all killed off by the end - it gave a sense of finality and progression (although I did really love Lupin and if JK had never killed Sirius off I would have been far less emotionally traumatised).
Finally, you can't review this book without talking about the Horcrux hunt. Clever, thrilling and impeccably tied into both Voldemort's personal history and the history of Hogwarts, this was an enthralling aspect of the book. I loved the links to the houses, the introduction of the Hallows and the tale of the three brothers. It was absolutely beautiful and very creative. Although I had always suspected Harry would be victorious, I would never have guessed, even halfway through the final book, the reasoning for his victory. The story was woven with the utmost care and consideration and I think that fact alone will will always stay with me. Rowling is the master and this really is a masterpiece.
And so, the day before Harry's (and JK Rowling's) birthday, I have completed my re-read of the entire Harry Potter series. Happy Birthday to the boy who lived! I have thoroughly enjoyed this re read and I hope to do it again at some point because it really got me out of a reading slump and back into the best fictional world ever created (in my humble opinion).
*Ten million stars, and I hope anyone reading this has enjoyed it as much as I did*