You have in your hands the pivotal fourth novel in the seven-part tale of Harry Potter's training as a wizard and his coming of age. Harry wants to get away from the pernicious Dursleys and go to the International Quidditch Cup with Hermione, Ron, and the Weasleys. he wants to dram about Cho Chang, his crush (and maybe do more than dream). He wants to find out about the mysterious even that's supposed to take place at Hogwarts this year, an event involving two other rival schools of magic, and a competition that hasn't happened for a hundred years. He wants to be a normal, fourteen-year-old wizard. Unfortunately for Harry Potter, he's not normal--even by wizarding standards.
And in his case, different can be deadly.
Thus continues my epic reread of the Harry Potter series before the final movie comes out on July 15! (What will we do when there is no longer a new Harry Potter creation to look forward to?)
If you haven't read the Harry Potter series yet, WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE? Go out and read them immediately. Thank you. For the rest of us, spoilers are ahead, because I will talk about each book with the revelations of the whole series in mind.
While Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite Harry Potter book, it is Goblet of Fire that, on first read, hooked me and made me a die-hard HP fanatic.
The Quidditch World Cup is the perfect way to introduce international wizards to us. It came as much a shock to me as it did to Harry to realize there are wizarding schools other than Hogwarts (like Pigfarts, on Mars! ...Sorry, no more Very Potter Musical references...probably). I love Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, and Rowlings ability to make these schools and their students fully formed in a matter of two or three descriptions is absolutely masterful.
Let's continue to speak of Rowling's brilliance. Goblet of Fire is maybe the most shocking and complex of her mysteries. Moody, beloved Moody, is actually the Death Eater Barty Crouch, whose father is Percy's boss and whose house elf now sobs in the kitchen at Hogwarts. I analyzed every single line that Moody speaks, and it is amazing how each one could be spoken by either Moody or Crouch, though for very different reasons. Crouch is a clever, clever man. As is his creator, Rowling, obviously.
Harry's unwilling participation in the Triwizard Tournament is so underplayed. We know he's a hero, we know he has enemies. So even though it's mildly terrifying that someone is forcing him to evade dragons, swim in the lake, and outwit sphinxes, it is easy to get lulled into a sense of "Harry can do anything!"
And then. Then there is "Kill the spare!" and Lord Voldemort rising again. And the whole game changes. Harry is no longer a lucky innocent. He has seen death, been mocked and tortured, and the face that killed his parents is back. I CANNOT EVEN. Voldemort's return and the Priori Incantatum spell rocked my world. I remember reading the whole passage to my mom from the passenger seat of the car when it first came out. (Bit of advice, if your mom is not yet convinced that Harry Potter is good and not satanic, it is probably best not to read her the bit about a snake-baby murdering a teenager. Just saying.)
The chaos at Hogwarts when Harry returns is horrific. Moody's betrayal is jaw-dropping. Snape's confession of being a Death Eater, and then his agreement to return to Voldemort's side sparked the most epic internet debate in (my) history of the interwebs: Is Snape good or evil?
I love this book. It is still awesome after six or seven rereads.
Five out of five shrieking eggs.
Release Date: July 2000
Reading Level: Grade 3+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: YPL ROW