Goblet of Fire was always the turning point in the series for me. Obviously it’s the point where things start to get darker and the schoolyard shenanigans begin to give way to the actual war, but it was also the point where I went from enjoying the series to flat out loving it. Even though you can tell this one is going to be different right from the opening scene those last couple of chapters completely blew my mind the first time I read them. I really never quite expected JK to go there.
We’ll get to that when we get to it, though. For now I’m not even at the first task of the tournament yet.
As seemingly fluffy as the Quidditch World Cup scenes are at the beginning, I still really love them. Mostly I like this fourth book because it ups the stakes, but these happy, silly scenes really capture that feeling of being at a huge event in a giant crowd for me. There’s a palpable sense of excitement and the sort of build that you only get in a large group, and that has to hard to capture in writing. Reading this I feel the same sort of light happiness that I get when I’m at a concert or a fair or even a baseball game.
Looking back, it’s kind of astounding that I didn’t see the ending coming. There’s the opening, of course, but the scenes once the World Cup goes wrong are really astoundingly dark. Like, you literally have adults torturing helpless children. Add onto that the general morally suspect nature of “Moody’s” behavior and the fact that he spells out his whole plan at the beginning, and well….
That said, it’s actually really clever how it’s done. Anytime he does something creepy it’s either paranoid and in character, done with a decent excuse, or done to characters we’re supposed to dislike. Regardless, we’re willing to accept it. And for the rest, we have Harry himself downplaying everything. Again, it’s really good misdirection, and I think a lot of that is down to the fact that JK knows how stories work and how to use that against the audience.
Going back to the scenes after the World Cup, we see Stan Shunpike in the forest bewitched by a Veela. If I recall correctly he gets Imperiused later, right? Is the man just susceptible to mental manipulation?
Ok, last one, and this requires some quoting:
“It was common knowledge that Snape really wanted the Dark Arts job, and he had now failed to get it for the fourth year running. Snape had disliked all of the previous Dark Arts teachers, and shown it….”
Harry, honey, you make this sound like such a moral failing, but let’s be fair here. Quirrell was trying to kill you and steal a priceless artifact, everyone, including you, hated Lockhart because he was an idiot, and Lupin was a personal grudge. I don’t think it’s just that they beat him out for the job. Snape’s petty as hell a lot of the time, but that’s not really the problem in this instance.
I’m beginning to remember why this was always one of my favorites: the mystery’s good, the clues are all there, and the build on the tension is both present and subtle. And like I said, those ending chapters quite possibly made the series for me. I’m looking forward to finishing it up.