It was the same voice, the same cold, murderous voice he had heard on Lockhart’s office.
He stumbled to a halt, clutching at the stone wall, listening with all his might, looking around, squinting up and down the dimly lit passageway.
‘Harry, what’re you —?’
‘It’s that voice again — shut up a minute —’
‘… soo hungry … for so long …’
‘Listen!’ Said Harry urgently, and Ron and Hermione froze, watching him.
‘… kill … time to kill …’
The voice was growing fainter. Harry was sure it was moving away — moving upwards. A mixture of fear and excitement gripped him as he stared at the dark ceiling; how could it be moving upwards? Was it a phantom, to whom stone ceilings didn’t matter?
‘This way,’ he shouted, and he began to run, up the stairs, into the Entrance Hall. It was no good hoping to hear anything there, the babble of talk from the Hallowe’en feast was echoing out of the Great Hall. Harry sprinted up the marble staircase to the first floor, Ron and Hermione clattering behind him.
‘Harry, what are we —’
Harry strained his ears. Distantly, from the floor above, and growing fainter still, he heard the voice:
‘… I smell blood … I SMELL BLOOD!’
His stomach lurched. ‘It’s going to kill someone!’ he shouted, and ignoring Ron and Hermione’s bewildered faces, he ran up the next flight of steps three at a time, trying to listen over his own pounding footsteps.
Harry hurtled around the whole of the second floor, Ron and Hermione panting behind him, not stopping until they turned a corner into the last, deserted passage.
‘Harry, what was that all about?’ said Ron, wiping sweat off his face. ‘I couldn’t hear anything …’
But Hermione gave a sudden gasp, pointing down the corridor.
Something was shining on the wall ahead. They approached, slowly, squinting through the darkness. Foot-high words had been daubed on the wall between two windows, shimmering in the light cast by the flaming torches.
THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED.
ENEMIES OF THE HEIR, BEWARE.
(Source: J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, paper back edition, Bloomsbury 2000, ISBN 0-7475-4960-5.)
After finishing Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone — the first book of the series — I immediately started reading the next book: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. A few years ago I also attempted to read this book, but somehow, I stopped reading for a while and never picked the book up again. Today, I ask myself why. I can’t think of any reason to possibly stop reading this book. Sure, in the beginning I was a bit afraid that it would be the first book all over again; once more the dreadful Dursley’s, another trip to Diagon Alley and another journey in the Hogwarts Express, before their adventure on the school of Hogwarts would even begin. But although some of these events were certainly described again, J.K. Rowling did a truly great job in creating a whole new experience in any of these events. The only reason I could think of that made me stop reading this book, is that life must have gotten in the way.
But not now! For one, I was sick when I read this book, which gave me plenty of reading time. But also, I decided I wouldn’t let life get in the way anymore. I was so curious about the whole Harry Potter adventure for so many years now, the time had come to finally read them without any excuse.
And I’m glad I convinced myself to put this effort into my 70th goal on my list. Because in the end, it turned out to be not so much of an effort after all. J.K. Rowling put a spell on me. A spell which makes me keep on reading every free minute I have and more. I finished this book within two days (February 25 and 26). If I would have felt less sick at the time, it would have probably been one day. And if you read the fragment above, you’ll probably understand why. J.K. Rowling creates a world so vividly it’s almost scary. There weren’t only three people running and panting in those hallways of Hogwarts, searching for the creepy voice that apparently no-one but Harry could hear. There were four. The fourth one was me. I journeyed along with them throughout every chapter of the book. I flew with them in the enchanted car, I fearfully watched the movements of giant spider Aragog with them and I tried to solve the mystery of the Chamber of Secrets with them. I didn’t read all this, I experienced it. And that’s what makes the books of Harry Potter so amazingly enchanting.