Dec 8, 2012

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J. K. Rowling

Disclaimer: All reviews are the result of my personal opinion from a Christian stand-point. These reviews are provided for those who share my beliefs and morals, to help guide what fiction a reader may wish to pick up. For those who do not share these beliefs, please refrain from hateful comments. It is due to rude commenting that I must now include this note prior to all reviews. For more information, visit my purpose behind this blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Intended Age-Group: 8+ (recommended 13+)
Issues of Violence: action violence, torture, murder, mutilation, intense situations.
Intimacy Level: mild attraction, a few kisses on the cheek (harmless)
Swearing: what the h***, d***,
Recommendation: yes, 5 out of 5 stars with reservations (see end of entry)

This book sparked the rebel side in my childhood. I purchased it without permission and started reading it alone in my room before guilt hit me. After the first chapter, I confessed to my mom. She knew my passion for reading and imagination could not be stopped so she said, "That's okay, just let me read it first."

Well, she's a mother of four children and the wife of a missionary. When will she have time? Even my thirteen-year-old-brain knew I wouldn't have Harry Potter 4 in my hands for another year. So I confessed further. "I've already started it and it's not that bad. I'll be really careful and skip over the scary stuff."

With a sigh, Mom said, "Okay," probably to spare me from going against her back again and living with the guilt.

It may be due to this adventurous form of possessing a book, or the fact I read it when sitting under a table with live orchestral music in the background, but Goblet of Fire has always been my favorite Harry Potter book.

The story begins with Harry invited to go to the Quidditch World Cup with the Weasleys where he encounters more than one unexpected surprise. Hogwarts is far from tame this year also as at welcomes the students into a new year with a surprise event taking place involving daring feats and competitions. Harry finds himself whirlwinded into the midst of things with the ever present mystery of someone trying to kill him. Voldemort, of course, wants Harry dead, and as Voldemort seems to grow stronger, Harry's death threats grow nearer.

Characters: *****
Harry and the other fourth-year students at Hogwarts step into the shoes of awkward teen years. The idea of speaking to an attractive girl is as nerve-wracking as leaping off the North Tower. Young crushes are in the air. It's almost endearing seeing the young affection and provides nice examples of overcoming fear and figuring out how to pursue a girl (and for girls, how to stand up to bullying and rudeness and to allow yourself to be beautiful).
Dumbledore plays a much higher role in this book and his character is further revealed. We see his fierce reaction to tragedy and his boldness when taking control and being a leader. His wisdom, though from a fictional character, can even be applied to real life (as my husband pointed out). Some of his phrases such as, "Choosing what is right over what is easy" can be very applicable to the life of a Believer (and anyone else for that matter!). But Christ is frequently calling us to turn away from what is easy and to pursue what He calls right.

Bullying is a common event throughout the Harry Potter books, mainly between the Slytherins and Harry. I've always admired the way Hermione sets an example of being above the affect of bullying, ignoring harsh words and focusing on what's important and true. This sets a good example for those who may be suffering from verbal bullying. They can easily relate to Harry's situation and see how important it is to have faithful friends and to focus on the positives in friendship and life.

Spiritual Content: *****
I won't say that J. K. Rowling put Christian themes in her book (though many might argue so), but she has many many good themes, morals, and lessons. What we encounter in life, whether through reading, watching, hearing or witnessing can hold life-applying truth to it. J. K. Rowling has an impressive way of seeing many aspects of life that others can often miss. We are blessed that she chose to write books in where she can share those messages.

Plot: *****
This book is packed with more magic, Quidditch, and bravery tests than any of the others. It has a little of what everyone loves in it, but this is also the Harry Potter book that steps over to the more mature and intense side of life. The end climax (as each Harry Potter book has) is the darkest one of the series so far. It deals with things far beyond what fourteen-year-old Harry should ever have to witness or endure. It consists of torture, murder, mutilation, and spells of Dark Magic.

Moments of the book show how the Death Eaters treated Voldemort when he was in power and they refer to him as "Master" and "Lord".  Words like 'mercy' and 'forgiveness' are thrown around, connected with Voldemort, but it is a clear example of loyalty based in fear, not in love or trust.  Voldemort's character is further revealed through stories and some of Harry's dreams, showing more and more why he was feared and establishing that fear among the readers.

There is some mild language in this book. What the h*** and d*** are used a couple of times. Some characters are also intoxicated at points--using alcohol to deal with difficult times. This not encouraged in the book. In fact, the character realizes that he is responding poorly and takes measures to sober up.

Overall Recommendation:
I cannot say if this book might negatively impact a child because I was not negatively impacted when I first read it as a child. I was completely immersed in the story as a story. I never had nightmares, I never walked around in dark robes, I never made a wand (all right, my sister and I did have dueling matches with knitting needles on occasion.)

See my post, Magic--a Christian's Point-of-View, for a more thorough understanding of my personal views on magic in fiction. Also, read my movie review to see a comparison of book to movie.

Amazon recommends The Goblet of Fire for readers 8+ and though today's children seem to possess a maturity level higher than I did at that age, I still think the book should be limited to 13+. I recommend this book as a magnificent display of adventure, imagination, and fiction, but only to a higher age-group and with caution understanding that it reaches a much deeper, serious, and dark level of story-telling.

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She writes stories about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her debut dystopian novel, A Time to Die, released September 2014 from Enclave Publishing. When Nadine's not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she is out pursuing adventures. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband. You can find out more about Nadine and her books at