I came late - and reluctantly - to Harry Potter, despite buying the first 4 books as a boxed set for my son. Only after observing him reading them and then re-reading them did I give in to the urge to find out what all the fuss was about. I read the first (wafer thin) book and, to be truthful, still wondered what all the fuss was about. Yes, it was amusing (a devil dog called 'fluffy'? I ask you!) but the laughter was not enough to explain what everyone was raving about. I almost gave up but curiosity kept me going. The fuss must be about something - right? By the end of book two I was hooked. What I have seen in these books is an evolution. Harry as a green, untested, frankly (with the exception of events as a baby), uninteresting individual. Then as the book ended and the story moved into book two, Harry started growing up and developing meaningful relationships. As he grows and matures, the trials he faces become harder and more sinister. The books developed to reflect this growth, from wafer thin to tome-esque, from lightweight to, frankly, dark.
I enjoyed this latest offering immensely, I think because the prose seems to straddle an undefined boundary between children/adult prose incredibly well. This time the writing was dark from the outset, picking up from where Harry Potter 4 finished, with the resurrection of the Dark Lord (he who should not be named). There were many touching moments, particularly when observing Mrs Weasley's maternal nurturing of Harry (who has never ever been nurtured by the horrible muggles he lives with). And I thought it was sweet that despite the fact that Harry has faced more trials than many an accredited wizard, when it came to love and romance, he was as unschooled and naive as the rest of us.
I have given this book the full 5 stars because I enjoyed this one more than the others. That is not to say Harry Potters 3 and 4 were not excellent - they were, but in different ways. Now JK, please hurry up and publish number 6!