Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Harry Potter, Book 7
By Carrie R. Wheadon,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Grim, gripping end to the biggest saga in history.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Author J.K. Rowling borrows from many established stories and myths to piece together her magical world. Kids can look up more about centaurs, elves, giants, hippogriffs, werewolves, vampires, acromantulas (giant spiders), inferi (reanimated dead), magic wands, flying brooms, 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. The registration and persecution of those who aren't "pure blood" witches or wizards mirrors the many times in real human history when those not of a certain race or religion have been persecuted and even systematically annihilated.
The whole series is full of positive messages about the power of love, friendship, and self-sacrifice. In this book, evil's reign must be overcome with many acts, big and small, of rebellion and sacrifice. Trust is also tested among friends and mentors.
Positive Role Models
Harry finishes his hero's journey with bravery, daring, and self-sacrifice. He faces a lot of doubt both about the task in front of him and about whether to trust Dumbledore, the mentor who set him on this difficult path. In the end he chooses trust and he accepts the fact that Dumbledore made mistakes in his life and learned from them -- he wasn't perfect. Ron faces so many doubts that he deserts his friends but later makes amends. Hermione is the stalwart character here. Her careful planning and considerations help the central trio survive on the run.
Kingsley Shacklebolt is Black and is an important member of the Order of the Phoenix. Students of color who fight in the climactic battle include Cho Chang, the Patil twins, Lee Jordan, and Angelina Johnson. Characters in the wizarding world face a lot of discrimination, especially for not being "pure- lood." In this book, it's gotten so bad that they're being rounded up, put on trial, and jailed. Harry and friends fight against this pure-blood mania with everything they have. Some diverse family structures are described: Harry grew up with his aunt and uncle, Neville with his grandmother, and Tom Riddle in an orphanage. Women have prominent roles at Hogwarts: Professor McGonagall and Professor Sprout are both heads of houses.
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Violence & Scariness
At least 50 heroic characters die in the final battle, including some who are very well loved. A very significant apparent death. Many other deaths on both sides, from curses, a giant snake, strangulation, and a stabbing. Scenes of torture, with characters writhing in pain, and some injuries that can't be healed by magic (e.g. an ear is cursed off). Violent action sequences include a flying motorcycle crash, explosions, snake attacks, kidnapping, a near-drowning, and a number of chases, duels with wands, and close-call escapes. Constant talk in the news about the deaths of both wizards and Muggles at the hands of Death Eaters. Stories recalled of tragic family deaths and an attack on a girl that left her permanently scarred, mentally. Harry finally visits his parents' gravesite and the home where they were killed.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing and one bawdy joke.
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Infrequent use of "damn" and "hell," plus "effing," "bastard," and one (very memorable) "bitch."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Wine, mead, champagne, fire whiskey, and brandy served to adults and older teens (you're considered of legal age at 17 in the wizarding world). Pipe smoke spotted at a wedding.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the seventh and final book in J.K. Rowling's series about an orphan who discovers that he's a wizard tasked with saving the magical world from the evil Lord Voldemort. There have been major character deaths since Book 4. Here, so many notable characters die (or appear to die) that it's almost hard to keep track by the end. One or two deaths will really stick with readers, depending on who they liked best throughout the series. Get ready to have a few good cries with kids. Most happen in battle, but others are caused by curses, a giant snake, strangulation, and a stabbing. Scenes of torture are described, with characters writhing in pain, and characters sustain injuries that can't be healed by magic. Violent action sequences include a flying motorcycle crash, explosions, snake attacks, kidnapping, a near-drowning, and a number of chases, duels with wands, and close-call escapes. There's constant talk in the news about the deaths of both wizards and Muggles at the hands of Voldemort's followers. Harry finally visits his parents' gravesite and the home where they were killed. Other mature content includes some drinking -- Harry and friends are considered of-age in the wizarding world at 17 and drink wine, mead, and some hard alcohol, but never to excess. Swearing includes mostly "damn" and "hell" but also "effing," "bastard," and one very memorable use of "bitch." Harry finishes his hero's journey with bravery, daring, and self-sacrifice. He faces a lot of doubt both about the task in front of him and about whether to trust Dumbledore, the mentor who set him on his difficult path. In the end, he chooses trust and accepts the fact that Dumbledore wasn't perfect. 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.
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What's the Story?
In HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, Harry has his assigned mission from Dumbledore: a hunt for hidden horcruxes (parts of Voldemort's soul). But he has an agonizingly long wait before he can get started. First he must send his Muggle relatives into hiding so Voldemort can't use them as bait. Then he must escape from the Dursleys' home when a protective charm breaks. This proves extremely difficult, even with the best aurors flying alongside him and a clever plan that results in several decoy Harry Potters. More than one life is lost when the heroes are attacked by Death Eaters on all sides. After a direct attack from Lord Voldemort, Harry is shocked to see his wand mysteriously act of its own accord to save him. Even after that ordeal, Harry still can't set off on his mission because Bill Weasley is getting married. Harry, Ron, and Hermione help with the preparations at the Burrow while trying to plan how they'll live on the run. But when the celebrations are interrupted by news of the Ministry of Magic's fall, the time for planning is over. Harry, Ron, and Hermione barely escape with their lives and are nearly caught by Snatchers -- a gang of wizard kidnappers -- in London. From there they hide out in Grimmauld Place, where they try to work out clues to find the only horcrux they know about: the locket stolen by the mysterious R.A.B. Luckily, the first hint is right in Grimmauld Place. Unluckily, Harry's scar is now bothering him constantly. His connection to Voldemort is stronger than it ever was, and the trio's search for horcruxes may not be a secret for long.
Is It Any Good?
There's everything in this epic fantasy finale and more: mysteries solved, institutions plundered, dragons ridden, sacrifices made, battles fought, and evil defeated. So much happens that not one but two movies were adapted from the last Harry Potter book. It would have been a crime to cut short any of the action scenes in the Ministry of Magic, Gringotts Bank, or the final battle at Hogwarts. All three places are impossible to break into or out of, and yet somehow Harry, Ron, and Hermione pull it off -- and with the kind of narrow nail-biter escapes fans have come to expect from the series.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows delivers the action sequences, but also a lot of mysteries to solve. There's so much to ponder about wand lore, Dumbledore's complicated past, Professor Snape's allegiances, the location of the final horcruxes, Kreacher's cruelty, and more. Wand lore is the most confusing to decipher, as well as the most clever and crucial element to the series' good-vs.-evil struggle. It will leave readers piecing together the complex puzzle until the very end. Dumbledore's past is a sore spot for Harry, who never wanted to see his hero as flawed but learns to accept the man he was -- the very relatable process of realizing that our parents and mentors are human, too. Snape's secrets are the most poignant and heartbreaking and drive Harry to his ultimate act of sacrifice. So many revelations are expertly woven together in the final act, so many beloved characters get their moment to shine (yay, Neville! yay, Mrs. Weasley!) that it's oh so hard to see the true magic of this series come to an end.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about all the loss of life in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Whose death hit you the hardest? Why? Were you braced for it, or did it catch you by surprise? All the known characters that died were willing to die for a cause greater than themselves. Does that make their deaths easier to bear?
A major theme tackled here is the terrible prejudice against those who are not from "pure blood" wizarding families. For not being the "right" kind of witch or wizard, they're ostracized and sent to jail. In real life, author J.K. Rowling has spoken out against the trans community and publicly stated her prejudice against them. Can you still appreciate the message presented in the book knowing that? How separate is a work from its author?
In the Deathly Hallows, Rowling shows Dumbledore in a new light, as a complicated and very flawed character instead of the infallible headmaster. Harry undergoes a period of anger and then finally reaches acceptance. Are we all Harry when faced with the flawed real selves of those we put on pedestals, whether they're authors, actors, or any public figure?
- Author: J. K. Rowling
- Illustrator: Mary Grandpre
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Character Strengths: Courage, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Arthur A. Levine
- Publication date: July 21, 2007
- Number of pages: 759
- Award: Common Sense Media Award
- Last updated: August 8, 2022
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