Disclaimers: I review works of art like literature as independent of their creators. Just because I support the Harry Potter books does not mean I support J.K. Rowling’s actions, statements, and/or views. This review contains my opinions. You don’t have to agree with me.
This post contains spoilers for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
I first read this book when I was 9. I reread it when I was 11 and 21. I’ll start by discussing the things I noticed every time. Then I’ll share what I noticed during my reread as an adult. I’ll wrap up by pointing out plot holes and other unanswered questions. This series is rather famous for having interesting plot holes. I point them out jokingly. Younger me didn’t notice them, and since this series is geared toward a younger audience, I think that’s all that matters. Adult me needs to just enjoy the story and stop asking so many questions. I also realize some of the plot holes are addressed on Pottermore, in the author’s tweets, etc., but these are things that need to be included in the books, not supplemental material.
After the insanity that is the ending of The Half-Blood Prince, I’m glad The Deathly Hallows opens with Snape. I think readers are curious to see what he’s doing after the events of The Half-Blood Prince. Snape’s overall characterization in this book is amazing. I know a lot of people who like Snape think he’s a good guy who made mistakes. I’m not sure I agree. Joining the Death Eaters is a pretty big deal, and loving someone doesn’t automatically redeem Snape from all the harm he caused while serving Voldemort. I do, however, believe Snape has a lot of depth to his character, and I enjoy watching all his strange behavior come together in that final scene in the Pensieve.
Neville is another great character in this book. His character arc is incredible. Out of all the characters in this series, I feel like he’s the only one with a strong character arc. He goes from being the laughingstock of Hogwarts to one of the most capable wizards there. If anyone demonstrates what a Gryffindor is, it’s Neville. What’s interesting is I didn’t particularly care for Snape or Neville as a young reader, but I really appreciate their characterization as an adult.
Luna has some great moments in this book. I love when she teaches her fellow prisoners about Wrackspurts. That’s so Luna. I also really like when she stuns Alecto in Ravenclaw Tower.
I still love the Weasley twins, and no one will ever forgive this book for doing what it did to them.
Also, can we talk about Dudley’s goodbye? I don’t know how, but I completely forgot about that between my early reads and my more recent read. That scene redeemed Dudley for me. I have faith he will be a better, nicer person than his parents. That scene ties into one of the other things I really like about this book, and that’s the wizards protecting the Muggle families related to the trio. The Dursleys go into hiding and have protection, so they aren’t vulnerable to Death Eater attacks. Hermione protects her parents. We don’t need any bystanders to die in this war, and I’m glad they’re protected.
I love that Harry gave Kreacher Regulus’s locket and gained his trust. Kreacher just wanted someone to care about him, that’s all. And he really came through in the end.
The characters overall demonstrate great agency in this book. Everyone is actively making choices that affect the trajectory of the story. It makes the story more enjoyable and engaging.
One of my favorite parts of this book is when Harry scares Krum away from Ginny at the wedding. I also like when the students fight Death Eaters using crystal balls and plants like Devil’s Snare. There are some great humorous moments. I absolutely love that Voldemort turned a Hallow into a Horcrux, not realizing what it is. And he also goes after another Hallow, again not knowing what it is. He could’ve truly been immortal if he had done his research, but it appears he got tunnel vision and only considered using the Hallows for one purpose.
The plotting and foreshadowing are great. This book skips over a lot of the boring parts.
I have some nit-picky adult me comments. I have my same-old, same-old regarding the writing quality. I’m still seeing dialogue tags I don’t like and an overuse of certain punctuation and emphases. There are sections of info-dumping and telling that aren’t engaging. All the wedding preparations are boring. There are still inconsistencies with the trace.
Harry and Hagrid are really lucky they landed in the Tonks’ yard. They could’ve landed anywhere, and that’s where they fell. It doesn’t seem realistic to me. It’s more coincidental than anything. Similarly, the trio just happens to eavesdrop on a conversation about the sword of Gryffindor. What are the chances of that?
When Harry and Lupin get in an argument over Lupin joining them on their quest, I agree with Lupin. His baby isn’t born yet, and I think he would have made a valuable addition to their team.
These are two observations I made while reading this book: Dumbledore’s Pensieve could be dangerous in enemy hands, and I think Harry lost Hedwig and the Firebolt just so they wouldn’t be a hindrance for him since he travels so much in this book.
Now for the plot hole and other unanswered questions bonus round.
At the beginning of the book, Harry still has the trace on him, and the characters use that as an excuse against Apparating. Who cares if the Ministry knows Harry Apparated? What are they going to do about it if they don’t know where he went? The Dursleys get to Side-Along-Apparate. Why can’t Harry do that? Also, since the Dursleys Apparated, how did they transport all that stuff they were packing up? When the trio infiltrates the Ministry and rescues the wizards on trial, they have to find their wands for them to be able to Apparate. If children and the Dursleys, who don’t have wands, can Side-Along-Apparate, why do these people have to have wands?
Hermione Apparates into the middle of a busy Muggle street. Wouldn’t Muggles notice that? Hermione also says she doesn’t do memory charms, but she used one on her parents. Hermione wanted to be prepared, but she didn’t pack super important things like food. They’re not going to accomplish anything if they starve. At one point Hermione asks Harry for his invisibility cloak, but she has it in her beaded bag. Hermione stuffs the beaded bag in her sock, which makes me wonder how big the bag is. It can’t be too small, or things wouldn’t fit through the opening, Undetectable Extension Charm or not.
How did Snape know the true date of Harry’s departure from Privet Drive? The good guys don’t trust him anymore. Also, why did Snape tell Voldemort the correct date since he’s secretly on Harry’s side? How did Muggles not see the sky battle? How did Hagrid survive the motorcycle crashing into Tonks’ yard?
How and when did Lucius Malfoy escape Azkaban?
Hermione said she smuggled all the Polyjuice Potion, but Harry uses some at the wedding. Doesn’t Harry need to take Polyjuice Potion every hour at the wedding to maintain his disguise? The Burrow is heavily protected, even during the wedding. How did the Death Eaters get through those protections when they took over the Ministry? Why did the Death Eaters go to the Burrow? Did they know Harry was there? Were they targeting known members of the Order of the Phoenix?
Can they make a new secret keeper for Grimmauld Place? There’s a flaw in the magic if it doesn’t take untimely deaths into account. Or, since Dumbledore knew he would die, he should have made someone else the secret keeper to prevent this problem from happening. Why does Sirius’s bedroom door still have his name on it, and why are his belongings still in his room since he’s been disowned? Regulus’s room has been searched by the thief, yet the door is locked. Why would the thief re-lock the door? Kreacher is at Grimmauld Place when Mundungus steals stuff, but he’s supposed to be working at Hogwarts. Why did Regulus let the Inferni take him? Why did he care so much about Kreacher?
How does Harry survive the collapse of his house at Godric’s Hollow when he’s a baby? When Arthur is attacked by Nagini in The Order of the Phoenix, he’s in St. Mungo’s for a while. When Harry is attacked by Nagini in this book, he heals a lot more quickly. Why is Harry’s healing process different?
How in the world did Rita Skeeter write a 900-page book in a month? I know NaNoWriMo is a thing, but most people write 50,000 words, which is nowhere near 900 pages. Nine hundred pages is about 225,000 words.
Why did Snape put the sword of Gryffindor in a frozen pool? Is he trying to kill Harry? Why didn’t the trio consider getting a basilisk fang from Hogwarts? Harry could’ve snuck in with his invisibility cloak and gone down to the Chamber of Secrets and gotten the fang. That probably would’ve been less life-threatening than getting the sword out of the cold water.
In “The Tale of the Three Brothers”, Death gives up his invisibility cloak. Does that mean Death is no longer invisible? How does that work? The third brother hides under the cloak, so Death can’t find him. Then he finally gives the cloak to his son. How does the third brother find a wife, have children, and interact with his family if he’s always invisible?
The Elder Wand is supposedly unbeatable. Yet Grindelwald has the Elder Wand, and Dumbledore defeats him. And Dumbledore has the Elder Wand, and Draco defeats him. It would appear the wand is, in fact, not unbeatable. How in the world did Voldemort not learn about the Deathly Hallows? He possessed two of them in his lifetime. He even turned one into a Horcrux.
How do the Death Eaters know where all the secret passages at Hogwarts are, so they can seal/guard them? Did Wormtail tell them? I thought the Death Eaters couldn’t get onto the grounds, i.e. Voldemort stopped at the gate, yet there are Death Eaters inside the grounds.
Conjuring patronuses is supposed to be difficult, advanced magic, but lots of students are using that spell in the final battle. If the spell is as hard as it’s made out to be, there shouldn’t be that many students using it.
Why must Voldemort be the one to kill Harry? What would happen if someone else tries to kill Harry? What if someone else successfully kills Harry?
When Narcissa asks Harry if Draco’s alive, he says he is, but how does he know that? He hasn’t seen Draco in a while, and he could’ve been killed in the battle since they last saw each other. Then Narcissa lies and tells Voldemort Harry’s dead. In The Goblet of Fire, Voldemort says he can tell when people are lying. I have to believe he made that up since he doesn’t detect Narcissa’s lie. Also, wouldn’t Hagrid feel Harry’s heartbeat or breathing since he’s not actually dead?
Is it wise to leave two Hallows at Hogwarts?
If Harry is Teddy’s godfather but Teddy doesn’t live with him, where does he live? Teddy’s also too old to be attending Hogwarts during the epilogue. The school being reconstructed isn’t an excuse because Teddy wouldn’t have attended Hogwarts until 10 or 11 years after the battle.
Bonus Question: Lupin didn’t want kids because he was worried they would be werewolves like him. Do wizards not have birth control? Can they not use Muggle birth control like condoms? Why didn’t he and Tonks use those?
Those are my gazillion thoughts on the final Harry Potter book. Despite the numerous plot holes and unanswered questions, I really enjoy reading this book. It’s one of my favorites.
What do you think of this book? Did you notice the plot holes? Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments.