Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Dale gets his A game on once again, returning to the wizarding realm where his previous visits have earned him accolades that include a Grammy. By this sixth installment, Dale has created well over 130 different voices, shifting easily from his own slightly Americanized British accent to distinctive Scottish, French and regional English takes. In addition to keeping stars Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore and Hagrid firmly identifiable and in the fore this time, he serves up a delightful spin on Professor Horace Slughorn, the new teacher at Hogwarts. Slughorn's smarmy tone and Dale's guttural delivery are a winning and memorable combo. As Harry's saga darkens and his adventures become more perilous, Dale also gets to explore deeply villainous voices-with evil hisses and sharp edges-more than ever (but we won't tell you whose). Ages 9-up. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 5 Up-It's no surprise that everyone's favorite teen wizard is still battling Voldemort. What does perplex the young hero is a forgotten textbook with secret writing that brings together Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Scholastic, 2005). J. K. Rowling returns Harry, Hermione, and Ron to Hogworts amidst troubling signs that the Dark Lord and the Deatheaters are gaining strength. Fortunately, Headmaster Dumbledore is helping his apt pupil prepare for an expected showdown by taking Harry to remembered incidents in the life of his old enemy. Less dangerous, but still disturbing, Ron and Hermione have put Harry in the middle of their incessant bickering. Then there's Slytherin Prefect Draco Malfoy who's under orders to commit murder-but who is his intended victim? Finally, Professor Snape is now teaching the Defense of the Dark Arts class, but he appears to be doing some dark deeds of his own. A blossoming relationship with Ginny Weasley is a bright spot for Harry, but another personal loss forces him to make some grave decisions by the novel's end. Narrator Jim Dale is completely at home with all his familiar characters and just as adept at creating new vocal personas for returned faculty such as Potions Master Slughorn. Experienced Harry Potter listeners will recognize Snape's haughty hiss and Dumbledore's smooth heartiness before the text identifies them. Even house elves Dobby and Kreacher are unmistakable during their brief appearances. Every library will need this audiobook, but it would be wise to buy two copies since they'll be zooming off the shelves faster than a broomstick.-Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
With the Harry Potter Express chugging closer to its final destination, the sixth book in the series gets down to business. No more diversions about the welfare of house elves or the intricacies of Quidditch. This penultimate offering is more about tying up loose ends and fleshing out the backstory. Harry and the gang are back at Hogwarts, but the mood is grim. The wizard community is now fully aware that evil has returned, and the citizenry is afraid. Harry has been left bereft by the death of Sirius Black, and there are more killings to come. In a powerful early scene, readers learn that a pivotal figure is seemingly not to be trusted, yet throughout there are hints that he or she is a double agent. Later Harry becomes entangled with a former student known as the Half-Blood Prince, having accidentally acquired the prince's Potions textbook, but this turns out to be a mixed blessing. Rowling also devotes time to a carefully crafted telling of the story of Lord Voldemort's early life, which Harry and Dumbledore piece together by plucking other people's memories. Rowling is at the top of her game here. For those able to reach just beyond the engrossing tale, there is commentary relevant to today: how governments offer false security about perilous situations and how being in a constant state of war affects people's behavior. Harry is almost 17 now, and this is a book for older readers, who will best understand the moral implications of his choices. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2005 Booklist
Horn Book Review
(Intermediate, Middle School) This sixth Harry Potter will wow the series' many fans -- Rowling delivers the likable characters and thrilling situations that have made the series so popular, handily weaving in plots begun in earlier books and returning to comic staples of wizard school life while providing fresh novelties. Connoisseurs will note that Rowling's real attention is focused on setting up Harry's final showdown with Lord Voldemort: Dumbledore's private Pensieve tutorials with Harry, in which the two sift through various characters' memories about the Dark Lord's history, searching for the means to defeat him, are the main thrust of the book but will pay off fully only in the last volume. Even so, there's plenty of engaging mystery and suspense here: the title character, the Half-Blood Prince, occluded for most of the book as merely the author of some helpful notes in Harry's potions text, bursts into startling prominence by the end. Harry himself, grown more independent, decisive, and ""fanciable,"" comes of age, committing himself by his own choice to defeating Voldemort and accepting that former protectors like his parents and Dumbledore (and even the Dursleys) no longer stand between him and danger. Old animosities against Snape, now the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher (whose twisted loyalties become even more opaque), and Draco Malfoy, the newest Death Eater recruit, continue unabated and crescendo into an epochal betrayal at the close, brilliantly conjured by Rowling. In the war against Voldemort, Snape may prove to be the linchpin just as much as Harry, but to find out for sure, readers will have to wait for the ultimate Harry, book seven. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.