Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Book Poster Image
Grim, gripping end to the biggest saga in history.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 45 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 347 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

J. K. Rowling borrows from many established stories and myths to piece together her magical world. Kids can look up more about dragons, flying brooms, magic wands, etc., compare the author's take with other interpretations, and think about how and why she weaves these magical elements and beings into her stories. See the "Families Can Talk About" section for more discussion ideas.

Positive Messages

Good vs. evil takes center stage here. Bravery is rewarded and friendships are tested. The distinction is also made between evil (Voldemort) and those who are enemies but deserve mercy and understanding -- like Professor Snape and the Malfoys.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While there's much squabbling among Harry, Ron, and Hermione, they stick together. Harry loses faith in his mentor, Dumbledore, when rumors circle about his past, but eventually comes to accept him for who he was. Professor Snape's sacrifice is remarkable, considering how he feels about Harry. Neville is the stand-out, coming into his own in this book and leading a rebellion at Hogwarts.

Violence

Lots. Many major and minor characters are injured, tortured, and killed. Injuries are bloody -- someone loses an ear -- while killings are mainly done using the "killing curse," making victims just drop dead instantly. Much discussion of death and dying.

Sex

Some kissing and one bawdy joke.

Language

One use of "bitch"; "bastard" a few times, "effing," and "damn."

Consumerism

Chocolate Frogs and other sweets mentioned were at first only fantasy products, but are now for sale.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking and drunkenness by adults and older teen characters -- mainly firewhiskey.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a grim, violent fantasy book. Characters show wonderful qualities such as bravery, loyalty, perseverance, and sacrifice, but deaths still occur in nearly every chapter -- major as well as minor. We know younger kids will want to (and probably will) read this wonderful end to the Potter series, but because of the heavy themes, we've rated it for age 12 and up. Parents who want to learn more about the series (and spin-off movies and games) can read our Harry Potter by Age and Stage article.

User Reviews

Adult Written byproud-ravenclaw October 22, 2009

Awesome Ending

Beware, anyone attached to the characters will shed some tears. There are lots of deaths. The way the Minstry treats Muggle-borns is a lot like the ways the Naz... Continue reading
Adult Written byJohnathonLongho... December 28, 2009

Apporiate for All Ages Old Enough to Understand

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is not as child ready as the earlier books. Though, it just may be the best one in the series.
Kid, 12 years old January 10, 2011

Must-read

This book is AMAZING and J.K. Rowling is a very talented storyteller. I don't understand some of these reviews, like "iffy" for age seventeen. Yo... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old April 3, 2011

Everyone read it!

It's an awesome book i've read it 5 times! I started reading the series when i was seven and it wasn't scary for me! Adults just think we can... Continue reading

What's the story?

At the end of Book 6, Harry found out that he must kill Voldemort and that, before he can be killed, the Horcruxes in which the Dark Lord has hidden pieces of his soul must be found and destroyed. Neither is an easy task -- they are hidden geographically, protected by enchantments, and cannot be destroyed by ordinary magical means. While trying to solve these mysteries, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are on the run and fighting for survival. The Death Eaters have taken over the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts, put a price on Harry's head, and set up a variety of magical traps for them. Nothing is safe, no one can be trusted, and they have no idea how to even begin accomplishing their tasks.

Is it any good?

The long-awaited finale to the biggest publishing phenomenon in history crashes to a thunderous ending, bringing the series total up to around 4,100 pages. But Book 7 in the saga of the Boy Who Lived will not disappoint. Author J. K. Rowling has lost none of her magic touch. Though there is, at times, a bit too much exposition, it's enthralling, exciting, suspenseful, surprising, clever, and moving from beginning to end. But there's one thing it isn't -- fun. You can't say she didn't warn us, however, as Rowling has publicly stated that fighting pure evil involves hardship, sacrifice, and death. The best word to describe this final book is grim.

Rowling retains her crown as the queen of plotting and pacing. Never for children, and rarely for adults, has there been an epic story arc this complex, convoluted, and carefully constructed. This final book makes it clear that there was hardly a wasted word or event in the whole series as everything comes together in a way that's satisfying -- and that rewards close reading of the previous books.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the publishing phenomenon that is Harry Potter. Why has it been so successful? What makes it different from other books and series for children? Is it just hype, or something more?

  • What do you think about the way author Rowling ends the series? Are you satisfied?

  • How is it different from what you expected? Do you wish anything was different? Do you understand the complex reasoning that leads to the denouement?

Book details

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