Monday, October 26, 2015

How Harry Cast His Spell (Tyndale House Publishers)

It has been over eight years since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows book was released and only four years since Part 2 of the movie with the same name was released. Pottermania had been dwindling to some degree, despite Rowling's efforts to keep fans engaged through her frequently updated website Pottermore. A recent release of a fully illustrated Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and the upcoming play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has whipped Potter-heads back into a frenzy, and it is for that reason that I am reviewing an older book called How Harry Cast His Spell.

How Harry Cast His Spell is the third edition of a book which was previously titled "Looking for God in Harry Potter." Personally, I preferred the original title, but to each their own. The author is John (no relation to Hermione) Granger. Granger is a professor with a degree in classical languages and literature. He is now considered a "Harry Potter expert." In his novel, Granger discusses a variety of topics including magic; good and evil; love and death. However, there are several deep literary concepts he covers which are extremely fascinating - 1. literary alchemy, 2. symbolism and name meaning, and 3. doppelgangers.

Alchemy is a truly fascinating subject that for the most part involved people trying to transform lead into gold. In the literary form of alchemy, it is the character (Harry Potter) who transforms from lead into gold, both in every book and as a character as a whole. Granger makes other alchemical connections with Hermione being mercury and Ron being sulfur, the two agents need to transform lead. I could go on and on about this, but buy the book! The Christian symbolism is abundant in the Harry Potter series, but it is subtle like in Lord of the Rings and not completely beat you over the head like the Chronicles of Narnia. Harry is a Christ-figure but he is not supposed to be Jesus Christ, because despite all of his good qualities, he is with sins and flaws. The doppelganger theory is one that is best illustrated in the case of Jekyll and Hyde, but is seen throughout the Harry Potter series, primarily in Harry and Voldemort, but also in certain wizards and their animagi or patronus forms. Peter Pettigrew as a rat is particularly on the nose.

In addition to these themes Granger talks about, there are also individual chapters devoted to the spiritual keys of each of the first six Harry Potter books and three chapters dedicated to Deathly Hallows. The reason for three with the last book is because there is much more to talk about, including Harry's struggle with faith and Harry's own Passion narrative and how it symbolizes Christ's Passion. At the end of the book is an FAQ, which includes brief rebuttals to some Christians who paint Harry Potter as occult. Reading through this 300 page book, I found myself going back through the stories in my head and seeing all the symbols and theme I missed when originally reading it. My wife, HUGE Harry Potter fan that she is, even pointed out some stuff that the author missed or could have included. That's not a knock against this book, in 300 pages, the author did a fine job covering as much as he could without bogging the reader down, Though, I could have kept reading if the book had been twice as long as it was truly fascinating. If you are a Harry Potter fan, who wants to understand the Christian meaning of Harry Potter, read this book. If you know someone who is anti-Harry because they think it's demonic, buy them this book. Granger does a masterful job of not only showing you why you and your children should read Harry Potter, but why you and your children need to read it!

This book was provided to me for free by Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click here and hit Yes!