Mark Reads ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’: Chapter 4

In the fourth chapter of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Mark’s childhood and innocence is completely shattered and left to die on the side of the road. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Harry Potter.

A little message before I start this proper review and you can watch my mind unravel.

Please stop posting any sort of spoilers or hints to the future in the comments or I will Voldemort your entire family and then create a basilisk to eat you alive.

Look, this is incredibly exciting. Few people understand this more than I do. And trust me, I have friends who are watching LOST right now and it takes every fiber of my being not to yell BUT WAIT FOR THIS PLOT LINE TO BE RESOLVED YOUR HEAD WILL EXPLODE ALKJ;DSAF;LKASFDJALK;AS lol hi casey

I don’t do it because there’s something magical and beautiful about suspense. And look, as you’ll see in this review, I’m about to have an aneurysm from this book because Rowling seriously upped the ante on about everything and is it possible to die from anticipation WE WILL FIND OUT.

I always read every comment. I want to know what you guys have to say about all this. And the past two days, like every other comment is I CAN’T WAIT UNTIL SUCH AND SUCH HAPPENS IN BOOK 5 or HURRY UP AND READ CHAPTER 5 or OH THAT WILL BE ANSWERED RIGHT HERE. These aren’t outright spoilers, but I like that I have no idea when things are happening. Not only because being surprised is awesome, but now I know Chapter 5 is ABSOLUTELY BONKERS and it is filling my stomach with dread and this is really painful if you didn’t know.

The wonderful fromthisgirl has created a place for all of you to geek out about spoilers. Visit her page. Go wild. Spoil to your hearts’ content. But please please please leave them out of the comments, ok?

Let’s begin!


I believe there is a theme for this book that is going to be expanded upon greatly in the next few chapters by J.K. Rowling:

hey children did you enjoy this wonderful children’s book full of wonderful awesome things for children well let me WRITE A BOOK BUILT ENTIRELY ON THE FEAR THAT A DERANGED, PSYCHOPATHIC MURDERER IS GOING TO EITHER KILL YOU IN YOUR SLEEP OR DESTROY YOU IN ANY SORT OF OPEN, PUBLIC SPACE.

As if I wasn’t already completely dominated by my strange and detrimental social anxieties, J.K. Rowling has now filled me with an unending sense of dread, doom, and hopelessness. HERE YOU GO, THIRTEEN YEAR-OLD CHILDREN.

(For the record: I love this more than babies. True fact.)

Before we end up weeping with fear, I’d like to point out how happy Harry is here at the beginning of this chapter:

  • It took Harry several days to get used to his strange new freedom. Never before had he been able to get up whenever he wanted or eat whatever he fancied. He could even go wherever he pleased, as long as it was in Diagon Alley, and as this long cobbled street was packed with the most fascinating wizarding shops in the world, Harry felt no desire to break his word to Fudge and stray back into the Muggle world.

And I recall waking up that first day after I ran away from home and feeling exactly this: a bizarre sensation of owning my own life. Let me tell you guys: one of the best feelings in the whole world.

Despite that this changes fairly soon, even the mood of Rowling’s writing is refreshingly positive about Harry’s life:

  • Harry didn’t have to do his homework under the blankets by flashlight anymore; now he could sit in the bright sunshine outside Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor, finishing all his essays with occasional help from Florean Fortescue himself, who, apart from knowing a great deal about medieval witch burnings, gave Harry sundaes about every half an hour.

It’s so matter-of-fact! I love it!

There’s a brief focus in this chapter on the new Quidditch broom, the Firebolt, which also shows how well Harry deals with his newfound privilege of having money to spend:

  • He had never wanted anything as much in his whole life–but he had never lost a Quidditch match on his Nimbus Two Thousand, and what was the point in emptying his Gringotts vault for the Firebolt, when he had a very good broom already?

Look at that. Responsible in the face of temptation at the age of 13? Someone needs to give Harry a pat on the back.

And then…oh god. OH GOD.

  • But Harry wasn’t listening. His eyes had fallen on another book, which was among a display on a small table: Death Omens: What To Do When You Know the Worst Is Coming.

    “Oh, I wouldn’t read that if I were you,” said the manager lightly, looking to see what Harry was staring at. “You’ll start seeing death omens everywhere. It’s enough to frighten anyone to death.”

    But Harry continued to stare at the front cover of the book; it showed a black dog as large as a bear, with gleaming eyes. It looked oddly familiar…

And this triggered something in me, too. I remember something I passed over in my previous review, so I went back to chapter 3 and found this:

  • …the garage door gleamed, and between them Harry saw, quite distinctly, the hulking outline of something very big, with wide, gleaming eyes.

Now, to most people, this is pretty obvious. But because I completely failed at reading comprehension yesterday, when I read this and the Knight Bus showed up, somehow my brain thought: “Oh, it was the bus hiding in the alleyway.” Which…yes, that makes absolutely no sense.

It makes even less sense when you read the next page, where Harry tells Stan he tripped because he saw a “big black thing,” “Like a dog…but massive…”

Clearly not a bus. What is wrong with me.

So Harry saw a death omen? Oh great. GREAT. Not that I need even more anxiety in my life.

There’s a temporary reprieve from this, though, as the last day before school starts, Ron and Hermione show up in Diagon Alley. And I remember just how much I miss these energetic characters, especially Ron’s sense of humor.

  • “I’ve still got ten Galleons,” she [Hermione] said, checking her purse. “It’s my birthday in September, and Mum and Dad gave me some money to get myself and early birthday present.”

    “How about a nice book?” said Ron innocently.

Where is my pocket Ron 🙁

This is also the chapter we’re introduced to Hermione’s new pet, the squishy-faced cat named Crookshanks. (NOW I UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE HAVE THAT AS A USERNAME.)

Crookshanks is special. He’s huge, slightly unruly, and not exactly a pretty sight. And Hermione, being the wonderful person she is, loves him unconditionally.

Where is my pocket Hermione 🙁

Also, I had to laugh a bit about this bit of slightly obvious foreshadowing:

  • “Don’t be ridiculous, Ron,” said Mr. Weasley, who on closer inspection looked very strained. “Black’s not going to be caught by a thirteen-year-old wizard. it’s the Azkaban guards who’ll get him back, you mark my words.”

Yeah. Well, won’t see that coming, will I?

The Weasleys show up in full force and, of course, everything is SUNSHINE and PUPPIES and UNICORNS because they are simply THE BEST FAMILY EVER COMMITTED TO PAPER.

  • “I hope you’re well?” said Percy pompously, shaking hands. It was rather like being introduced to the mayor.

    “Very well, thanks–“

    “Harry!” said Fred, elbowing Percy out of the way and bowing deeply. “Simply splendid to see you, old boy–“

    “Marvelous,” said George, pushing Fred aside and seizing Harry’s had in turn. “Absolutely spiffing.”

    Percy scowled.

    “That’s enough, now,” said Mrs. Weasley.

    “Mum!” said Fred as though he’d only just spotted her and seizing her hand too. “How really corking to see you–“

    “I said, that’s enough,” said Mrs. Weasley, depositing her shopping in an empty chair.

Where are my pocket Weasleys 🙁

Oh, I guess it doesn’t matter, because Rowling then ruins everything with pure and simple terror.

  • “Harry’s got a right to know. I’ve tried to tell Fudge, but he insists on treating Harry like a child. he’s thirteen years old and–”

    “Arthur, the truth would terrify him!” said Mrs. Weasley shrilly. “Do you really want to send Harry back to school with that hanging over him? For heaven’s sake, he’s happy not knowing!”

OH THIS IS REALLY WONDERFUL. What are they hiding from Harry?

  • “Molly, how many times do I have to tell you? They didn’t report it in the press because Fudge wanted it kept quiet, but Fudge went out to Azkaban the night Black escaped. The guards told Fudge that Black’s been talking in his sleep for a while now. Always the same words: ‘He’s at Hogwarts…he’s at Hogwarts.’ Black is deranged, Molly, and he wants Harry dead. If you ask me, he thinks murdering Harry will bring You-Know-Who back to power. Black lost everything the night Harry stopped You-Know-Who, and he’s had twelve years alone in Azkaban to brood on that….”


Except not anymore. This is unreal! I swear, if I had read this back when I was 15/16, it would have terrified me. And I’m 26 and it’s still pretty darn creepy.

But this explains Fudge’s weirdness and why the Weasleys are keeping such a close eye on Harry. Harry realizes what this means for his next year at Hogwarts:

  • No, all in all, the thing that bothered Harry most was the fact that his chances of visiting Hogsmeade now looked like zero. Nobody would want Harry to leave the safety of the castle until Black was caught; in fact, Harry suspected his every move would be carefully watched until the danger had passed.


I’m going to get an ulcer.