‘The summer holidays are dragging on and Harry Potter can’t wait for the start of the school year. It is his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and there are spells to be learnt, potions to be brewed and Divination lessons (sigh) to be attended. Harry is expecting these: however, other quite unexpected events are already on the march…’
I’ve always liked ‘The Goblet of Fire’ but I think my problem was that, because it comes after ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban’ which was always my favourite, I never truly appreciated it. There was also the small matter of Voldemort’s return and the tragic death of Cedric Diggory. That’s the main thing the fourth installment of the Harry Potter franchise is known for: this is the book where Voldemort’s big bad scheme finally begins to take shape and the death toll begins to rise.
One of the greatest strengths of the Harry Potter series is that the opening scene of each book is always completely enchanting and manages to beautifully set the tone for the rest of the novel. This book is definitely up there with my favourite opening of the entire series, perhaps drawn with ‘The Deathly Hallows’. The scene with Frank Bryce at the Old Riddle House not only sets up the plot of the book perfectly but also allows the reader a unique view into a world outside of Harry. Throughout the rest of the books the narrative lense follows Harry and shows each character in the same light he sees them but here we see the action from Frank’s perspective. This allows not only for a wider view of events but also takes us directly to an important scene and highlights to us that this is something we need to remember. It’s a very useful technique that Rowling uses superbly and makes for a very enjoyable reading experience.
The TriWizard Tournament allows for an interesting backdrop to the year and is the perfect way for Rowling to slowly build up tension throughout the novel. The main thing I love about the tournament is that it introduces a wider look at the European world of wizards. It’s interesting because by including European schools of wizardry it also allows for a far more inclusive feel to the story. The British wizards are not the only wizards, and are far from isolated from their foreign counterparts. Magical co-operation between countries is a beautiful sentiment (one rather lacking in our muggle citizens at present) and, when combined with the Quidditch World Cup, makes the world of Harry Potter feel far more real.
Although Harry’s awkward attempts at teenage romance can be quite cringey, it was nice that Rowling developed the character in that way. This was also the first time that I understood what fans who thought Harry was bi were saying as there is a rather large focus on Cedric’s good looks considering the story focuses on Harry and his point of view. It also brought back a fair few memories from my own school days which I can’t pretend were anything other than downright unpleasant, but let’s not get into that.
The one thing I’ve noticed that has bugged me while reading the series one after the other is that Rowling often repeats information found in earlier books which is kind of like the book version of the “previously on” section at the beginning of most TV shows. And, much like when I marathon my favourite shows, this repetition can become fairly tiresome after a while.
Basically, like the other Harry Potter books I’ve reviewed, I do love this one. It’s the first book where I really start to feel panic about whether Voldemort might actually succeed. It was very intriguing to get a closer look into Voldemort and his deatheaters relationships and how characters like Snape, Wormtail and the Malfoys fit into that dynamic. The introduction of the pensive was fascinating and I loved the scarily accurate portrayal of Harry procrastinating all work for as long as physically possible- now that does bring back memories.