Unlocking Harry Potter: 5 keys for the serious reader: John Granger [Book Review]

Unlocking Harry Potter: 5 keys for the serious reader

John Granger

Book Review

In Unlocking Harry Potter, John Granger discusses the themes and patterns in Harry Potter. The five keys discussed are narrative misdirection, hero’s journey, literary alchemy, postmodern themes and meaning and traditional symbolism.

Overall, I found the writing style of this book really engaging and easy to follow. Some of the subjects (such as literary alchemy) are quite heavy going and do not make the book suitable for bedtime reading! I definitely feel that I understand a lot more about the significance of many aspects of the Harry Potter books and I think it will be interesting to re-read the series with many of these thoughts in mind! My favourite sections of the book were postmodern themes and traditional symbolism!

This book was written prior to ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ being released. Granger uses his keys reading to make predictions about the plot of the final series installment. Some of these were right, some were wrong but it was interesting to see how he came to these conclusions. Unfortunately, perhaps because I read the final book years ago, I found the chapter on predictions pretty dull and was tempted to skip it altogether!

There are many, many awesome facts and information to learn from this book, so if you are interested in a more in depth study of Harry Potter then I highly reccommend this book :).

Some interesting things I learnt from this book!

– The significant of “nitwit, oddment, blubber and tweak”. These random words that spill from Dumbledore’s mouth at the sorting ceremony actually reveal Dumbledore’s concern with people who are held back in society by prejudiced beliefs.

-The significance of ‘the number seven’ (seven books, school years, quiddich players, draws in Moody’s trunk, horcruxes etc). This relates to the theme of literary alchemy being ‘Seven’ is the number of transcendence and divination, and signifies absolute finality and perfection.

-The use of ‘Alchemic symbols‘. One such example is Fawkes the Phoenix. The Phoenix is the alchemic symbol of renewal and resurrection.


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