Hands up everyone who Goblet of Fire was the first book you waited for the release of. It was for me! When I finally got my greedy little hands on it, I stayed up late, late into the night reading it. Then I had nightmare after nightmare regarding snakes and KKK wizards. This was before I met my friend Nezabeth’s snakes, of course. I am now quite fond of snakes and would sort of like to have one as a pet. I wouldn’t use it to kill people like Voldemort does.
Goblet of Fire is so dark. It’s murdery from chapter one, and then there are so many little dark horrible details. You see the Dark Mark for the first time; and when Mr. Weasley talks about how the Dark Mark would appear over your house after the Death Eaters had killed someone there — that’s so evocatively creepy. And what’s good about the whole nighttime scene following the Quidditch cup is the way it makes you realize what everyday life was like when Voldemort was in power the first time. Everything’s fine, you’re camping, watching some Quidditch, playing with matches; and then abruptly, everything is very very not fine. And that’s what the English wizarding world’s life was for ten years. It sheds so much light on the way everyone reacts to the mention of Voldemort — from Mrs. Weasley’s boggart, to Crouch’s superintense crazy-eyes loathing of dark magic, to Fudge’s blank denial.
I love the way this book sets up Percy’s assholery in the next one. He is awful, and if I’m honest, I was hoping he’d die in the climactic battle. I felt like the Weasleys weren’t all going to make it, and I wanted Percy to be the one to go. It would have been lovely for him to come back, repent, then get killed. I know it would have been a smidge predictable, but so is the death we see in the sixth book, and it would be predictable in a way that would be heartbreaking to the characters and would not feel manipulative to me in the way that it feels manipulative when the person who dies instead of Percy, dies.
(I’m trying to be better about major spoilers for future books, because Meg reminded me she hasn’t read the whole series yet. Derp.)
You know what I hate about this book that isn’t its fault at all? I hate it that sometimes people in this country will say, “Who’s David Tennant?” and I am reduced to trying to get them to remember him in the fourth movie, where he has about two seconds of creepy, creepy screen time. And then my interlocutor will be like, “Oh. You have a crush on him?” I have a crush on him with the brainy specs. And getting the side-eye from Rose because he’s eating jam straight from the jar with his fingers. And this, man.
Here is the thing I can’t ever forgive Snape for. Also some stuff with Neville, but mainly this:
[Ron] forced Hermione to show Snape her teeth — she was doing her best to hide them with her hands, though this was difficult as they had now grown down past her collar. Pansy Parkinson and the other Slytherin girls were doubled up with silent giggles, pointed at Hermione from behind Snape’s back.
Snape looked coldly at Hermione, then said, “I see no difference.”
Hermione let out a whimper; her eyes filled with tears, she turned on her heel and ran, ran all the way up the corridor and out of sight.
Ugh. Seriously, it is one thing for a teenager to bully another teenager (though that is also bad!), and it is altogether another thing for a grown-ass man in a position of power to bully a fourteen-year-old girl. That is not how adult people should behave. Once when I was fifteen I went and deliberately scared the hell out of a twelve-year-old — who really deserved it because she and her snotty friends had been bullying a girl in their class who was a little slow, and I was trying to get her to stop because it was upsetting Social Sister — and I felt really guilty about that (I used my words! I didn’t, like, push her up against a wall with a knife to her throat or anything). Even though I was on the side of justice, and I was only three years older instead of twenty. Snape can go eat a bag of dicks.
Parenting Harry, Molly Weasley edition: I’ll have more on this next time I post, since Goblet of Fire is the book where Mrs. Weasley makes the full transition to being Harry’s stand-in mother. For now I would just like to compliment the letter she writes to the Dursleys asking if Harry can come to the World Cup. It’s extremely courteous and responsible-sounding. It sounds like the sort of letter my mother would have written to one of my friends’ parents when I was fourteen. Props, madam. Many props to you.
Parenting Harry, Sirius Black edition: Sirius is so great in this book. As soon as Harry writes to say his scar’s been hurting, Sirius is like, Sit tight, I’ll be there in a minute, and comes to Hogwarts from Africa or wherever and doesn’t leave for the whole rest of the book. I just love everything he does in this book. Like how every time Harry starts fretting about Sirius’s safety, Sirius gently reminds him, It’s not your job to worry about me, kid, it’s my job to worry about you. And in case you’re in doubt about whether this brand of reassurance is helpful to Harry, allow the text to support my position:
He couldn’t deny either that the idea that Sirius was much nearer was reassuring.
Harry thought of Sirius, and the tight, tense knot in his chest seemed to ease slightly.
Aw, Harry. Aw sweetie. You are brave and great and you deserve the nicest, coolest, helpfullest parents in all the land.
I also super love about Sirius Black that he — unlike everyone damn else — is straight with Harry about what’s going on. Honestly, the other adults in Harry’s life err way way way on the side of babying him and keeping him in the dark, to Harry’s ultimate detriment. I think it’s great that Sirius doesn’t try this on with him. He hedges everything with a lot of, Dumbledore’s looking out for you, I’m here looking out for you, but still he doesn’t try to hide it from Harry that there are some scary, bad things going on and Harry needs to be cautious. And — again, unlike some of the other adults in Harry’s life — he’s respectful of the fact that Harry’s pretty capable for a person of his age. Viz. this letter:
I know better than anyone that you can look after yourself, and while you’re around Dumbledore and Moody I don’t think anyone will be able to hurt you. However, someone seems to be having a good try. Entering you in that tournament would have been very risky, especially right under Dumbledore’s nose.
Be on the watch, Harry. I still want to hear about anything unusual.
I love it when people are respectful of Harry (see also, everything Dumbledore says to and about him in the last few chapters of this book). Remember how maddening it was as a kid when grown-ups would assume you didn’t know anything and weren’t capable of doing anything just because you were young? And how they would act like the really valid points you were making (like “I fought off Voldemort two years in a row like a damn champ”) were not worth their time to think about just by virtue of the fact that you were younger than they were? And if you, like, alphabetized a filing cabinet correctly it was like the adults had witnessed a miracle? So, I like it that Sirius, without stepping back from his plans to do what he can to help and protect Harry, also acknowledges that Harry is braver and awesomer than regular fourteen-year-olds. Because he is, and he deserves credit. He fought Voldemort off two years in a row like a damn champ.
I’ve noticed a lot of anger with Ron flying around this readathon. Do I need to do a big Defense of Ron post? Is that a thing that needs to happen? Or can we just be satisfied with asking where on earth you think Harry would be without Ron. He’d be curled up in a ball on the floor of the Gryffindor common room. FOREVER.
As a final note, don’t you love how happy Harry looks on the cover of this book? He’s like, I’ve got this golden egg! Hooray! I guess you can make the case that this picture portrays the moment at which he’s just finished the first task, but really, it’s kind of misleading as to the actual contents of the book. Because Harry spends most of this book miserable and scared.