Mentioning the great J. K. Rowling shouldn’t take anyone by surprise, especially when we will be reviewing one of her best novels: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
After the great success of the first part, it was only natural to continue the story of who is today one of the most famous wizards in the world.
We know some people will argue that it isn’t the best novel, but you just have to look around you to disagree with that statement. You may not be a fan, but the novels sure deserve the recognition and fame they have amassed.
In our case, we aren’t hard dying fans of Harry Potter, but we fall in the category of reading all novels, including those in the same world but not quite the same characters of the originals.
Thus, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is definitely part of our reading list. But how did it grow to fame just like the first one? After all, sequels tend to fluke a bit.
Well, you will be glad to learn more about the author and her life, along with the details of what made this second novel of the Harry Potter series to be just as successful as the first one.
A Bit of Background: Who Is J. K. Rowling?
In order to learn about a novel, isn’t it natural to focus on its author first?
We are not the type of people to mention every single detail of the book but not take the time to review the author. So, if you’re up for the ride, what about getting to know her a bit more?
She is often referred to as J. K. Rowling by many, or more like it has turned out to be how everyone calls her. However, her actual name is Joanne Rowling, who was born in Yate, United Kingdom, on July 31, 1965.
Her father was an engineer in the aviation industry, but her mother was a scientist technician. The latter was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in her youth and died before J. K. could show her what an incredible writer she would become.
Based on her name, she was often called “Jo” during her childhood. Books have always surrounded her since a very early age, and she has repeatedly stated that she loves them with all her heart, calling herself “a common-or-garden bookworm…”
The idea of becoming an author came during her childhood years due to her reading habits. In fact, her first book was published when she was six years old.
The book’s story followed a simple plot based on a rabbit that was, funny enough, named “Rabbit.”
Moving over the years, she didn’t abandon the idea of becoming an author. This is why she went up and started her first novel when she was eleven years old.
The story had fantasy and magic included since it is about seven cursed stones and their owners, which would mark her beginnings in this genre.
Although Jo’s interest in writing never disappeared during her teenage years, she didn’t find success from a very young age.
Instead, she was ready to attend college when she grew up and completed high school like everyone else.
Thus, Rowling decided to attend Exeter University, where she spent most of her time reading books despite being quite busy with her French and Classics curriculum and signatures.
She spent so much time in the library and took so many books to read that she often didn’t return them, causing JO to receive a PS50 fine.
Life After College – Building a Novelist Career
After completing her degree, she decided to move to London. This was followed by being employed for several companies, including Amnesty International as a researcher, a position that would be accompanied by her most inspiring moment in life.
She has claimed that in her small office in the company, she read hastily-scribbled letters from both men and women that were putting their lives at risk to inform outsiders what was happening.
While working and living her usual life, Rowling came up with the inspiration for the first book of the series while waiting for a train between Manchester and London King’s Cross.
She took notes quickly and decided to develop the idea over the years.
In fact, unlike what many believe, she didn’t just start with the first novel, “Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone.” Instead, she mapped out what would become an entire saga with seven books in total in only five years.
She wrote mostly in longhand and gradually built up a large collection of notes to know how the story would develop and where it was going to take place.
Based on her mentions and how she worked on the entire saga instead of one book at a time in terms of ideas and settings, it is hard for us to tell you when the second one, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was written.
While taking notes and mapping out her story, she moved to Portugal to teach English as a foreign tongue. This was followed by her marriage to Jorge Arantes in 1992 and later the birth of her daughter in 1993.
Returning to the UK & Publishing Her Success
With her daughter Jessica and a suitcase containing the first chapters of “Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone,” she returned to the UK.
Jo settled in Edinburgh to study to become a teacher and began to work on some of the city’s schools. Meanwhile, she continued writing the books for the series.
She completed the manuscript of the first book and sent it to several literary agencies. One of the literary agents contacted her to request more of the story.
She was able to publish her first book in June 1997, and this was when she decided to use J. K. Rowling as her pseudonym name as a writer.
It is meaningless to say the novel was a big success (and we even dedicated a full article to review how big it was and continues to be).
But where does this leave us with the one we are focusing on today?
Well, this is itself quite the story.
After the big success of the first novel, she felt quite pressured to live up to people’s expectations about the sequel, although she had most of the ideas planned since the mapping.
Of course, it isn’t the same to have hundreds of notes and place them in a novel.
Fortunately, she managed to complete the manuscript and sent it to Bloomsbury right on time, but it went under revision for another six weeks after she decided to take it back.
Some of the original poems and additional mentions in the book were removed during the publication on July 2, 1998.
But focusing on what we care about, the novel was a big hit right after its release in the UK after topping the list of bestsellers and owning authors like John Grisham and Tom Clancy.
When published in 1999 in the USA, charts, and popularity didn’t disappoint either.
From there, the critical response of the novel around the world followed the love from the first one, and a sequel people were eagerly waiting without much patience.
Fortunately for Rowling (and for us), everything went smoothly, and of course, things didn’t finish there with the book series.
But What Is the Novel About?
It is a bit hard to mention this plot without, you know, giving some spoilers from the first one.
Thus, be wary of what you read if you haven’t read the first one.
Following our main character, Harry, who is now 12 years old, has just returned from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
He is now going to spend a terrible summer at Number 4 Privit drive with his mundane family since he can’t spend the months in school. Although he isn’t expecting anything fun, he doesn’t know what lies ahead.
Uncle Vernon expects to receive one of the greatest deals of his entire life from the Masons. It doesn’t work out as planned when Harry is confronted by a mysterious house-elf who arrives in his bedroom and delivers a disturbing message.
By dropping a piece of pudding on Mrs. Mason’s head, the elf tries to expel Harry from Hogwarts. To stop Harry from fleeing, Uncle Vernon puts bars on Harry’s window.
Harry was devastated until his best friend Ron, along with his twin siblings, Fred and George Weasley, rescued him from the clutches his aunt and uncle. They invite Harry to stay with them for the rest of the season, and of course, Harry refuses to return home after such a proposal.
After an exciting journey, Harry is now back at Hogwarts and ready to begin a new year. This doesn’t go according to plan and when our actual plot starts.
During this time in the second year, a series of messages on the school’s walls warn that the ‘Chamber of Secrets’ has been opened and that an heir of Slytherin would kill all students who are not from all-magical families.
These threats are made after attacks on the school’s residents that left them terrified. Harry, his friends Ron, and Hermione move to investigate the attacks throughout the year.
Popularity: Breaking Down Its Success
It is a bit hard to come up with reasons for a Harry Potter book only when, in this case, the entire saga is what brings everything together and can be reviewed in the same manner. However, we will do our best.
Following the idea of how this is the second novel of Harry Potter, we can start by mentioning how it is considered even better than the first one.
According to those who have given their critics, people believe the second was even better than the first one, but everything goes for the latter because it is the angular stone for the book series.
In our opinion, Harry Potter and the Chamber of the Secrets follows the first part quite well, and not only that, it would later become the key to unveiling all the secrets in the latest sequels.
We don’t like to spoil anything from the novels we write about because, well, it is boring to have to be wary of any secret you didn’t notice, or maybe you haven’t read the books yet.
However, we can tell you this part of the entire saga plays an important role, so be wary of that.
That being said, the reader gets to explore more of the magical world where Harry and his friends spend a lot of their time. Thus, this isn’t like a newbie’s expedition.
You finally get to learn more about Hogwarts, how everything works, and more elements of surprise brought the amazing fact for the book.
Moving on with the literature and writing part, the great appeal of the first book remains:
- You have writing that is easy to read and makes you love but also hate the characters (respectively and based on their roles).
- It continues a great storyline where you don’t feel lost, and the built of the events doesn’t disappoint.
- New characters are introduced, and you are more than happy to have a very well-developed description.
- You don’t get in that “children’s literature” or “only for young readers” since Rowling did a great job working on it to be interesting for everyone.
Overall, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is the literal continuation of a masterpiece but turning into one.
Down to Numbers: Copies Sold & Earnings
After all the essentials mentioned, we can move on to mention the part we’re interested in the most: How much the book has earned over the years.
Although the book hasn’t surpassed its prequel in sales, it doesn’t fall behind.
Unlike the rest of the books of the saga that are a bit disorganized in releases and sales, this one is right behind the first novel.
With 78 million copies sold to this date, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is part of the best-selling books of all time despite ranking a lot lower than “Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone.”
This is often misunderstood since the book isn’t exactly the favorite by fans or regular readers.
Although it connects many of the situations and events of the later books, many people take it as a novel with less action than the rest.
However, sales don’t lie.
In fact, the book surpasses its competitors on the list before jumping to the next ranking that follows it.
Now, with an average price of $9 over the years following the standard editions, the book has earned about $702 million, and this grossing is nothing to joke about, especially now that the novel is sold as an electronic book, which only increases the sales.
A Big Success – The Following Film of the Franchise
Is there anyone who doesn’t know, at least, that there are films made from the books? In fact, the entire saga.
We don’t believe we have to mention that Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets got their respective adaptation. In fact, the film was released in 2002, right after the first movie, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.”
Naturally, the film follows the same plot as the book we just shared, and we are confident you will find many similitudes although, well, the book is always better in this case.
This doesn’t mean the movie disappointed, of course.
The budget was set at $100 million for this sequel and went up to gross $879.6 million worldwide. The same person, Daniel Radcliffe, stayed for the main role, and Warner Bros. took care of the expenses.
At the time, it became the second-highest-grossing film of 2002 after being surpassed by the second part of “The Lord of the Rings” franchise.
However, this was only in the worldwide box office as the movie ranked first outside of America, having the UK as the top country where people just went to watch the film over and over again.
As for the critical response, they are quite positive.
We ratings over 7 out of 10 and 80%+ out of 100 on other websites, hundreds of reviews consider it a great successor for the first film.
4 Secrets About Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- The book is, of course, more detailed than the films. However, the main aspect that was of the favorite parts for readers and the franchise ignored is how our protagonists get to know more about ghosts.
- The book sold over 2.3 million copies during its first release.
- A first edition of the book costs up to $10,000 today.
- The book approaches more themes than fantasy and magic. Depression, grieve and love are some of the main ones you can experience throughout the book.
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