Harry Potter starts his summer awfully – owl post irritates his aunt and uncle, and Uncle Vernon’s sister, Aunt Marge, is coming to stay. Harry has no idea what to do. He is a young wizard that has survived another year at Hogwarts, again interrupted by the greatest enemy of the wizarding world: Lord Voldemort. A madman has broken out and is roaming the streets of London. Sirius Black is at large. However, striking up a deal, Harry agrees to toe the line for Uncle Vernon if he signs Harry’s permission slip to visit Hogsmeade Village at certain weekends. Instead, Harry blows his aunt up when she becomes far too rude about Harry’s deceased parents, and he makes a run for it. While out there, he sees a huge dog, which he later discovers is called a Grim, and considered a death omen. Sure that he will be expelled, Harry makes his way towards the magical Diagon Alley, where he is directly headed off by the Minister for Magic himself, Cornelius Fudge. Instead of being labelled an outcast, Harry is told the rest of his summer he is permitted to stay at the Leaky Cauldron, and that he must be dreadfully careful. Sirius Black is a wizard, and an awfully powerful one at that. He was Voldemort’s right hand man, and he has escaped from Azkaban, something no wizard has ever done before.
Before boarding the Hogwarts Express, Harry discovers that Sirius Black is after him, and that he must be careful. Harry is intent on being careful. His best friends, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley are fighting endlessly. Hermione purchased a huge ginger cat named Crookshanks that is intent on making Ron’s rat, Scabbers, a divine meal. The two argue incessantly, and on the train they meet their new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Remus Lupin. The Azkaban guards, the Dementors, have been posted around Hogwarts until Black’s capture, but they have a terrible effect on Harry, who passes out around them every time. Before long, he has his studies to deal with, and some intense mockery from his archenemy, Draco Malfoy.
Harry’s friend, a giant of a man named Rubeus Hagrid, is now teaching Care of Magical Creatures, and starts well enough with Hippogriffs for the class. Draco Malfoy taunts one by the name of Buckbeak, and ends up in the hospital wing. He milks the injury for all that it is worth. Using his injury, he has the Slytherin team’s match against Gryffindor postponed, and Harry is damn near killed by dementors flooding onto the pitch. His trusty Nimbus Two Thousand broomstick gets blown away and ripped to shreds by the incredibly violent Whomping Willow. After receiving the latest broomstick on the market, the Firebolt, Harry, Ron and Hermione get into a little tiff when Hermione runs to Professor Minerva McGonagall, head of the Gryffindor House, about the broomstick. They are positive Sirius Black has sent it to Harry.
Professor Lupin starts anti-dementor lessons with Harry, intent on teaching him the Patronus Charm to ward them off, and Harry wishes to learn it. However, the Grim continually turns up, and Harry is worried. Hermione’s and Ron’s relationship deteriorates worse than ever when Ron’s bedsheets are covered in blood and ginger hair, and Scabbers is missing. The three attempt to help Hagrid with Buckbeak’s upcoming hearing, trying not to get the poor thing killer. Sirius Black launches an array of break-ins and attacks against Hogwarts, and the students are fearful. Harry receives the Marauder’s Map from Fred and George, and the beautiful map shows him all of Hogwarts and the grounds. Harry uses it to sneak off to Hogsmeade, where on a certain trip he learns of a terrible history concerning Sirius Black and his father, James Potter. They were the very best of friends, and Black sold James out to Voldemort.
The information is crushing for Harry, who now hates Black more than ever. He was left orphaned due to a best friend’s betrayal? What will Harry do now that he knows about Black’s connection to his family? What will they do about Buckbeak’s upcoming trial? Will Ron and Hermione ever be able to get over their issues concerning their pets? Will Harry be able to stay under Black’s radar, escape the man or exact vengeance, whichever option presents itself first?
Definitely a 9/10 for The Prisoner of Azkaban. This is one of those books that I absolutely adore. I loved Buckbeak, I loved Sirius Black and his infamous escape, I loved the introduction of the Dementors and the Firebolt gift. This book is just special, and so great. I love how J.K. Rowling has the ability to ensnare both children and adults in her magical world of Harry Potter. The writing style was again excellent, and the story for this was so in depth and complicated. It was wonderful to meet Lupin, and have Harry get his hands on the very cool Marauder’s Map, as well as the anger, bitterness and fear that was conveyed in the pages of this novel. Exploring more in depth into the Potters’ past was so awesome to get into, no matter how deadly depressing the story is. Snape was extremely amusing to me in this book seeing as he truly was totally horrible, and was intent on making that immensely known to Harry. Losing his cool was entertaining, but he was cruel and horrible in this story. The Weasleys will always remain a fantastic family to me. This was definitely a great entry to a phenomenal series.