deathly-hallows.jpgHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the seventh and final installment of the Harry Potter series, advents much death and sorrow to close to a relatively light-hearted series. Though Deathly Hallows is relatively dark, it has its moments of the warmest hope and sincerity, bringing it to a satisfactory close.

The plot is familiar, as we’ve been approaching it for six books prior to this: the Dark Lord, Voldemort, has gained power in the magical world and is even beginning to affect the Muggle world, with reports of widespread terroristic violence and grisly murders. Harry is the only one who has enough instructions from Dumbledore to find the remaining Horcruxes, which hold the pieces of Voldemort’s soul. As there are seven in all, the adventure lies in finding and destroying each one. With Ron and Hermione at his side, Harry leaves Hogwarts and begins the grand search that will hopefully kill He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

The drama begins right away. In the first chapter we find Snape in Voldemort’s company, telling more secrets to the Dark Lord. Within the book’s first few chapters, Harry is already being secretly transported under heavy guard to avoid being caught by Death-Eaters, Voldemort’s deadly army. While the excitement is familiar and the battles captivating, it is even in the first few pages that we begin to see the shocking death that comes to characterize the entire book.

Without a doubt J.K. Rowling decided to kill so many of her characters to show to us, the faithful reader, that this is truly the end. Up until this point, Harry has been the only character truly affected – the losses have been those close to him. Yet in this book long-loved characters become collateral damage for the 17-year-old hero. Twist after twist brings heartbreak home to our heroes, heroines, and even villains. As a long-time fan of the series, it was devastating to read.

Still it isn’t all death and despair. Light-hearted moments and amazing adventure come every few chapters. There are moments in the book where it feels like a grand reunion, characters from every book showing up to say their piece and share time with Harry. Love is in the air amongst many of the characters, and old loves truly burn brighter than before. Even amongst all of the war and pain, there is a birth to offset the feeling of dreary hopelessness. Rowling knows her readers have come to expect laughter from her books, but she makes it clear that there will be many sacrifices.

I believe Deathly Hallows is one of the best of the series, if not the best. Its heart-wrenching and tear-jerking don’t spoil it and in fact make it the most realistic of the books (forgoing that it’s about wizards and magic). The book’s only true detriment is its epilogue. According to other sources, J.K. Rowling wrote it years before she finished even started the last book. While it shows that she knew how it was going to turn out all along, it becomes too sappy and disconnected to provide any real closure. This may not be an accident, as there have been rumors that Rowling might be willing to write more books in the future. If so, she has certainly left a wedge in the door. If not, she has quite possibly written one of the least satisfactory endings for the worldwide phenomenon series.

Looking back, it’s amazing to see how far the series came. It’s not necessarily Nobel Peace Prize level literature, but it has brought a miracle into the world. No matter how the series could have ended, no one can truly diminish the importance of the gift Rowling and Harry Potter have given to children everywhere: the desire to *read*. That said, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has become the symbol of a generation who fell in love with books all over again. Perhaps it is best that the series has ended, as it will spur the need to read and find other books with new heroes and battles and love. Thank you, J.K. Rowling. A lovely end to a lovely series.