Harry Potter and the Prince of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

For years, until the publication of “Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix,” this third book in Rowling’s fantasy series was my favorite of the bunch. What makes this book unique is that dark wizard Lord Voldemort is not the antagonist but, instead, it is Sirius Black, a wizard who has recently escaped from the wizard prison Azkaban. Before being incarcerated, Black was a known follower of Lord Voldemort and it is believed he escaped from Azkaban in order to hunt down Harry Potter and kill him. Harry is warned to not go after Black, no matter what, but after learning about a connection between Black and his parents, Harry has a hard time keeping that promise.

In this book we are also introduced to Dementors, which are the guards at Azkaban. Hooded creatures without a face, they are known for performing the Dementor “kiss,” which sucks the soul out of their victims. Death is considered a better punishment. Even without the kiss, the very presence of Dementors causes people to feel sad and upset, as though they would never be happy again, and in interviews author J.K. Rowling has described Dementors as her manifestation of depression. Through his teacher, Harry learns how to produce a Patronus, a magical shield that fights Dementors. The shape of the shield is different for each person, and by the end of the book children and adults alike will be wondering what their own Patronus would be.

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