Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’: Chapter 8

In the eighth chapter of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry’s life continues to get more stressful and more strange. He accepts an invitation to attend Nearly Headless Nick’s “Deathday” celebration and learns how ghosts celebrate the day they died. This all leads to a frightening discovery in Hogwarts that changes everything. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.


I’ve gotten to a point in Chamber of Secrets where I like the world I’m in, but I don’t really feel like much is happening. I still don’t know what the Chamber of Secrets is and I don’t know what the grand design of the book is either.

I know that I’m impatient, especially because all I want to do is read this entire book in like an hour. So I’m willing to accept that things may appear to be happening slower precisely because I’m not reading this like I would any other book.

And there’s some cool stuff in chapter 8. Let’s talk about Deathday parties!

I’m glad Nearly Headless Nick is back, mostly because that (hopefully) means I’ll get to see more of John Cleese in the next movie. And he’s such an interesting character.

Harry, exhausted from Quidditch practice in the rain, runs into Nick, who’s sulking.

  • “But you would think, wouldn’t you,” he erupted suddenly, pulling the letter back out of his pocket, “that getting hit forty-five times in the neck with a blunt axe would qualify you to join the Headless Hunt?”

This is like, the greatest tragedy of our time. Also, I find it hilarious how morbid this all is.

Turns out, Nearly Headless Nick isn’t allowed on the Headless Hunt because…well, he’s not actually headless. Which is hysterical. But he uses this, and what happens next, to get Harry to come to his Deathday party.

  • “You’d better get out of here, Harry,” said Nick quickly. “Filch isn’t in a good mood–he’s got the flu and some third years accidentally plastered frog brains all over the ceiling in dungeon five. He’s been cleaning all morning, and if he sees you dripping mud all over the place–“

TOO LATE. Mrs. Norris and Filch have already spotted Harry and he’s forced to follow Filch down to his office. And I love love love love the description of where he works:

  • Harry had never been inside Filch’s office before; it was a place ost students avoided. The room was dingy and windowless, lit by a single oil lamp dangling from the low ceiling. A faint smell of fried fish lingered about the place. Wooden filing cabinets stood around the walls; from their labels, Harry could see that they contained details of every pupil Filch had ever punished. Fred and George Weasley had an entire drawer to themselves. A highly polished collection of chains and manacles hung on the wall behind Filch’s desk. It was common knowledge that he was always begging Dumbledore to let him suspend students by their ankles from the ceiling.

ksa;kdjf;kalsjdf;d alkaslkfa AWESOME.

But there’s another clue/hint in this scene, as Harry reads one of Filch’s letters on his desk and learns he’s trying to do magic. I wonder if this will be resolved in this book or a later one.

Anyway, Nick saves the day by convincing Peeves to drop a cabinet over Filch’s office, distracting him enough that Harry gets off scot free. And this is important, because this is how Harry gets invited to his first Deathday party:

  • “I’m holding a party down in one of the roomier dungeons. Friends will be coming from all over the country. It would be such an honor if you would attend. Mr. Weasly and Miss Granger would be most welcome, too, of course–but I daresay you’d rather go to the school feast?” He watched Harry on tenterhooks.

Harry says yes. And we get a Deathday party. And it is awesome.

  • The passageway leading to Nearly Headless Nick’s party had been lined with candles, too, though the effect was far from cheerful: These were long, thin, jet-black tapers, all burning bright blue, casting a dim, ghostly light even over their own living faces. The temperature dropped with every step they took. As Harry shivered and drew his robes tightly around him, he heard what sounded like a thousand fingernails scraping an enormous blackboard.

I’m sorry this is wonderful. Get me a copy of The Cure’s Disintegration and let me waste away here.

  • It was an incredible sight. The dungeon was full of hundreds of pearly-white, translucent people, mostly drifting around a crowded dance floor, waltzing to the dreadful, quavering sound of thirty musical saws, played by an orchestra on a raised, black-draped platform. A chandelier overhead blazed midnight-blue with a thousand more black candles. Their breath rose in a mist before them; it was like stepping into a freezer.

WHY DON’T I LIVE HERE. My god, eat your heart out, emo bands. You ain’t got shit on a Deathday party.

  • On the other side of the dungeon was a long table, also covered in black velvet. They approached it eagerly but next moment had stopped in their tracks, horrified. The smell was quite disgusting. Large, rotten fish were laid on handsome silver platters; cakes, burned charcoal-black, were heaped on salvers; there was a great maggoty haggis, a slab of cheese covered in furry green mold and, in pride of place, an enormous gray cake in the shape of a tombtstone, with tar-like-icing forming the words,



Then Peeves shows up and LOOK I THINK PEEVES IS FANTASTIC do not hate

  • “Heard you talking about poor Myrtle,” said Peeves, his eyes dancing. “Rude you was about poor Myrtle.” He took a deep breath and bellowed, “OI! MYRTLE!”

oh god bless his heart

After the Headless Hunters make an appearance and depress Nick even more, that mysterious voice Harry keeps hearing appears again. Only this time, he’s able to follow it upstairs until…well, I’ll just let Rowling describe this:

  • 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.


    “What’s that thing–hanging underneath?” said Ron, a slight quiver in his voice.

    As they edged nearer, Harry almost slipped–there was a large puddle of water on the floor; Ron and Hermione grabbed him, and they inched toward the message, eyes fixed on a dark shadow beneath it. All three of them realized what it was at once, and leapt backward with a splash.

    Mrs. Norris, the caretaker’s cat, was hanging by her tail from the torch bracket. She was stiff as a board, her eyes wide and staring.




whatthefuck whatthefuck whatthefuck

  • Then someone shouted through the quiet.

    “Enemies of the Heir, beware! You’ll be next, Mudbloods!”

    It was Draco Malfoy. He had pushed to the front of the crowd, his cold eyes alive, his usually bloodless face flushed, as he grinned at the sight of the hanging, immobile cat.

Well, so much for me feeling the book was progressing too slowly. Also: what the fuck is going on

And here’s your dose of “The Most Depressing Sentence(s) in the English Language”:

  • Harry watched, amazed, as a portly ghost approached the table, crouched low, and walked through it, his mouth held wide so that it passed through one of the stinking salmon.

    “Can you taste it if you walk through it?” Harry asked him.

    “Almost,” said the ghost sadly, and he drifted away.