Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows



Grim, gripping end to the biggest saga in history.
Common Sense Media Award

What parents need to know

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

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.


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.


Some kissing and one bawdy joke.


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


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.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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

Author:J. K. Rowling
Illustrator:Mary Grandpre
Topics:Magic and fantasy
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Arthur A. Levine
Publication date:July 21, 2007
Number of pages:759
Award:Common Sense Media Award

This review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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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't do anything! It's not fair!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
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 Nazis treated Jews, which may be hard for some kids who know about this for take. But, all in all, it's a great book. The kids (can you call them that anymore?) would die for each other. They are smart and resourceful.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Adult Written byThoughtful Reader April 3, 2011

not suitable for ANY age

Not only is this book NEEDLESSLY overly violent, but it is very poorly written structurally, and has many negative aspects to what it presents to readers of any age. It's educational value is more along the lines of what NOT to do, rather than to do. The first part of the book seems mostly dedicated to Rowling going on a Jason Voorhees-esque rampage against the supporting cast, killing off secondary characters right and left, beginning with the pointless death of Harry's beloved owl Hedwig. This is supposed to show that Voldemort Is Now A Serious Threat. This is a theme that continues throughout the novel as various names we've heard before are trotted out and shown to either be dead, imprisoned and/or tortured, fled, or otherwise come to a bad place. There is a sense of desperation about the book, ostensibly that of the Trio's quest to find the Horcruxes, but really it's the desperation of the reader wanting the author to FINALLY allow them to make some sort of progress. They wander here and there all over the countryside with no apparent plan, and some enigmatic clues that will only slowly over the course of the book one by one become mysteriously understandable when the author ALLOWS them to be. Harry in particular comes off looking hapless and helpless with no idea what the heck he is supposed to be doing. Well, I suppose that's fitting, since Rowling has spent 6 books prior treating him like a mushroom (keeping him in the dark and feeding him manure). Over the course of the book, Rowling spoon feeds the character successes, and the readers information, and always through an outside agency. Harry is only allowed to accomplish a victory when Rowling wants him to do so, and through no effort of his own. Indeed, the harder he tries, the worse things get. More pointless deaths follow as the Trio gets pushed too and fro some more, again for no apparent reason than to build desperation on the part of the reader for SOME story progress to be made. During the course of events, we learn (what many of us suspected) that Dumbledore did indeed know what would happen to Harry at his Aunt's home, but chose to put him there anyways for the cause of the Greater Good. Dumbledore thus stands guilty of at the very least criminal neglect of a child, if not actively aiding and abetting child abuse by sending him back to the Dursley Prison every summer. We also learn that DD is something of a fascist in his youth, having been a close associate of Grindlewald, the wizarding version of Hitler in WW II. Rowling also tries to "redeem" Snape by showing us how much he loved Lily Potter, and how much he strove to make amends after HIS betrayal of the prophecy to Voldemort set the stage for their deaths. As if that were enough to make up for his horrid treatment of Harry for 6 years, or his professional misconduct against virtually every non-Slytherin student he comes across. Sorry Jo, not buying it, let alone that Harry would EVER give a child of his the name Severus in any way shape or form (or Albus for that matter...see the execrable Epilogue). The ultimate confrontation between Light (Harry) and Dark (Voldemort) is both anti-climactic and a bit disturbing. The "brawl for it all" at Hogwarts is told mostly in the form of brief glimpses of various characters as they pass briefly by with little fanfare or comment. THIS is the payoff of 6 books worth of making us care about the school and these characters? Sad...so very sad... And the ultimate stupidity is finally upon the reader...the power Harry has that Voldemort knows not is to die. Yes, Harry beats Voldemort NOT by dint of anything he really does, or learns or becomes, but by letting Voldemort hit him with another AK. Thus Harry is marked forever NOT as a hero, but as a pawn of fate who wins not because of any heroic deed or trait, but because Prophecy (aka the author, Rowling) says he will. Again, is that the sort of lesson you want people to learn? We're all helpless before Fate. Nothing we do can change our lot in life. We just have to accept it and let it happen... And the less said about the horrific Epilogue, the better, with particular dishonors to the aforementioned Albus Severus, for one. and Harry marrying Ginny the Potions Princess for another (remember that little scene with her and her Mum in Book 5, then go back and reread book 6 with new eyes)... A poorly written book with extremely BAD messages that I think many people gloss over on the strength of Rowling's one true artistic trait: her generally engaging style and that up till this point covered up just how truly wretched a writer she really is.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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