His stomach turned over.
A towering, hooded figure was gliding smoothly towards him, hovering over the ground, no feet or face visible beneath his robes, sucking on the night as it came.
Stumbling backwards, Harry raised his wand.
A silvery wisp of vapor shot from the tip of the wand and the Dementor slowed, but the spell hadn’t worked properly; tripping over his own feet, Harry retreated further as the Dementor bore down upon him, panic fogging his brain — concentrate —
A pair of grey, slimy, stabbed hands slid from inside the Dementor’s robes, reaching for him. A rushing noise filled Harry’s ears.
His voice sounded dim and distant. Another wisp of silver smoke, feebler than the last, drifted from the wand — he couldn’t do it any more, he couldn’t work the spell.
There was laughter inside his own head, shrill, high-pitched laughter … he could smell the Dementor’s putrid, death-cold breath filling his own lungs, drowning him — think … something happy …
But there was no happiness in him … the Dementor’s icy fingers were closing on his throat — the high-pitched laughter was growing louder and louder, and a voice spoke inside his head: ‘Bow to death, Harry … it might even be painless … I would not know … I have never died …
He was never going to see Ron and Hermione again —
And their faces burst clearly into his mind as he fought for breath.
(Source: J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Bloomsbury 2003, ISBN 0-7475-5100-6.)
In every Harry Potter book, Harry faces certain attacks and battles. But up until now, these battles took place after a serious amount of chapters, or even near the end. Not anymore though. Harry’s safe days are definitely over. The battle described in the fragment above, took place on page 21. Seen that the first chapter begins on page 7, I was only 14 pages into the book when Harry faced death again! Time for chit chatting is over. Doom lurks in every corner now. Nothing is safe anymore. And as a result of that, there’s no possibility whatsoever anymore to put the book away.
It’s not only a new adventure for Harry Potter, it’s a new adventure for the reader as well. Lots of new locations are being explored, such as number twelve, Grimmauld Place, the Ministry of Magic, St Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries and the Room of Requirement. Some of these have been mentioned before, but they were never such a big and important part of the book. Also, a lot of new characters are introduced. We get to know the funny witch Tonks, Kreacher the grumpy house elf, loony Luna Lovegood and the most terrible, frightening and brutal teacher of the whole series: Professor Dolores Umbridge.
Umbridge really sets the tone here. She is so unbelievably evil. I really, really loath her. And worse of all, she is working for the Ministry of Magic. Politics have changed in this book. The Ministry is spreading lies and is covering up all the bad things that happen. The whole country is facing political oppression, even the school has been infected.
This makes this book so much more than just a fun collection of witchcraft, kid’s adventure and magic spells. Even more so than the previous books. This is a real world and it’s a scary one. A world where you have to be afraid to be robbed from your freedom and dignity. A world where honesty and heroism is punished badly. The bad guys in the Harry Potter books aren’t just evil nitwits, like you see in so many other stories (or movies!). They are smart, sly and very much like the most evil persons existing in our real world.
And then there’s the end of the book. The end made me cry. And I don’t mean I had to wipe a tear away in the back of my eye. No, I was sobbing. I don’t agree with the end either. It shouldn’t have happened. But still, also these unsuspected, harsh turn of events are what make Harry Potter so worthwhile. It’s not just happy endings with rainbows and unicorns (you see what I did there?)
When I was reading the fourth Harry Potter book, I didn’t think there could be a book in the series I would love even more. But I was wrong. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix immediately captured me and it is at least as good as the previous book. I couldn’t be happier that the book contains so many (766) pages. The only thing that disappointed me, was that at one point, the book comes to an end.