I can only imagine what you are thinking right now after seeing this title. ‘Has she never read this book? Does she live under a rock? Why is has she read the fourth book in a series? More J.K. Rowling?’ Listen- I have read all the HP books, many times. Why the 4th book? Well, I finished the last book review book mid-work day, and my friend (shout out to Sydney!) knew how much I loved the Harry Potter series said she had Goblet of Fire in her bag and why not read it? I’ve had a lot of down time at work (it’s slow season here) and prefer reading to internet surfing, so I took her up on her offer. It’s been a while since I’ve reread the series, and starting with the fourth (although it goes against my OCD grain) novel seemed ok since that’s when the action begins. Not to say that books 1-3 aren’t action packed, but I’m so familiar with the Harry Potter origins and main characters that I didn’t mind skipping reintroductions. And the wonderful thing about J.K. Rowling’s writing is that she excels in plot details, so much so that even after rereading the same novel, the reader still manages to unearth a forgotten element or spot foreshadowing that would only be considered foreshadowing if the reader had completed the series. And, because I don’t think any of my readers live under a rock, it’s impossible to reread the HP novels and not compare them to their corresponding movies. I own both the print and DVD collections, but when I moved to Lexington the DVD’s were a little easier to pack. I’ve had many a Harry Potter DVD marathons, so getting back to the print version made my appreciation for the books even more profound.
So as not to bore you all, I’ll skip giving you the plot on this review. You know it, and if you don’t, you best start with “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, and avoid reading this because there is no way to avoid spoilers with such bestsellers. In fact, I’m actually just going to skip to the parts that the movies really missed out on, bits that really help the reader make connections in the series.
First off, how many readers remember Winky the house elf? She isn’t mentioned at all in the entire movie franchise, but she plays a key part in the Goblet of Fire. She serves the Crouch family, and is first introduced at the Quidditch World Cup. Her duties as a house-elf hit a nerve with Hermione, leading her to start S.P.E.W. (Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare). Winky was freed from the Crouch family, which to most elves is something to be ashamed of (Dobby is a different story) and eventually ends up working at Hogwarts with Dobby. She is distraught and although she is prompted by Hermione and Dobby to enjoy her new freedom, she refuses to accept that she no longer works and cares for the Crouch family, declaring that will never share their secrets. As the story unfolds, we find out why; Barty Crouch Sr. fulfilled his dying wife’s last wish by freeing his Death Eater son from Azkaban, whom Winky was supposed to be looking after. However, during the World Cup events, she and Barty Crouch Jr. become separated and he returns to the Dark Lord. From there, the plot of getting Harry to the graveyard to return Voldemort to full form is enacted. Barty Jr. becomes ex-auror Alastor Moody via polyjuice potion, and he sets up Harry to win the Triwizard Tournament- or should I say, sets him up to be transported to Voldemort’s rebirth. In the movie, Winky’s involvement isn’t mentioned, leaving viewers to fill in the gap of how Crouch got out of Azkaban and into Hogwarts.
The next thing that caught my attention is Rita Skeeter. She gets mention in the movies, but not to the extent that the book does. There is no mention of her overhearing private conversations, which in turn leads to no mention of her being an unregistered animagus. A lot of doubt about Harry Potter started with her, and really helped relay the extent of the slander that lead to the divide with the Ministry of Magic. This point also leads to another missed connection towards the end of the novel, when Professor McGonagall and Dumbledore are arguing with Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic. Here, McGonagall is confronting Fudge about his allowance of his guard dementor performing the Dementor’s Kiss on Crouch Jr. which destroyed the testimony of the plot that brought Voldemort back. This moment is where we see the division of the support from the Ministry of Magic, and though partly caused by cowardice on Fudge’s account, the other part is caused by doubt brought about by Rita Skeeter’s articles. Another piece left for the audience to figure out in the movies.
Finally, just a few things that I caught myself thinking “Oh, Rowling, very clever!”… First, there is mention of a bezoar in a potion class, where Harry forgot to add it as a key ingredient, which later turns up in “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” in which Harry helps save Ron with one after being poisoned. Then, there’s the story behind Hagrid’s past, with the prejudice about giants, that leads to the “special assignment” from Dumbledore. And the last thing that caught my attention- how often Bill Weasley in mentioned, verses the movie, and how he meets Fleur Delacour. Only the readers would understand how they could have possibly met, as the movie audience is left to assume.
I know how popular this series is, and how the franchise has spread- in fact, back when I was 12, I refused to read the first book because it was so popular…stupid, I know. But when I came to my senses, I can remember how I couldn’t put the books down, and would beg my grandmother to buy the next one for me. In rereading this book, I’ve remembered why I was so obsessed-the books are magical to the imagination. Rowling creates such a believably unbelievable world that the reader can’t help but be taken with the story.