Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Digital Audiobook narrated by Jim Dale
Published by Pottermore on February 1, 2000
Series: Harry Potter #3
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction, Young Adult
Length: 435 pages or 12 hours, 15 minutes
Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Book Depository • IndieBound
When the Knight Bus crashes through the darkness and screeches to a halt in front of him, it's the start of another far from ordinary year at Hogwarts for Harry Potter. Sirius Black, escaped mass-murderer and follower of Lord Voldemort, is on the run - and they say he is coming after Harry. In his first ever Divination class, Professor Trelawney sees an omen of death in Harry's tea leaves... But perhaps most terrifying of all are the Dementors patrolling the school grounds, with their soul-sucking kiss...
I love this book. Either by audio or hardcopy, I think I visit it at least once a year. As such, it’ll probably be reviewed many times. Every read is different, after all.
The third year is when the trio start to come into their own and become more complex as characters. Harry is re-affronted with his parents’ deaths in a new and raw way, Ron begins to fight for his own happiness – whether that’s in defense of his pets or himself – and Hermione’s reaction to Harry’s Firebolt and Divination shows her less tolerant side. We also get the introduction of the Marauders – Moony, Padfoot, Wormtail, and Prongs – whom I love. I believe that Lupin is the strongest DADA teacher presented in the whole series. We have a new villain (refreshing!) and we start to see some layers peeled off Severus Snape. Overall, great character development in this book.
I’ve always found the beauty of the Potterverse to be its near plausibility. The magic is subtle enough that it doesn’t overrule the story. This year, you get the addition of Hogsmeade, which is a little wizarding town with a pub and a candy shoppe and a joke shop and feels quite possible. Even a post office! Hands down, my favorite scene for showing the beauty and the subtlety of the Hogwarts grounds is near the very end of the book, where the trio is relaxing by the lake in the summer sun. It’s all perfectly normal until the Giant Squid lifts his tentacles lazily. It’s a subtle nuance that reminds us that this world is so much like ours that we want to be there, too… only it’s magic.
I find the lack of Voldemort in this story to be a refreshing change of pace from the plotlines we’ve seen in the first two books where the trio goes through all these tribulations and at the end, Dumbledore basically says, “Voldemort is up to his old tricks and hanging out at Hogwarts again!” I love what we learn here about Harry’s past, and how we’re delving into different aspects of the world more thoroughly (Ministry proceedings, magical creatures, and the last time Voldemort rose). Information from this book helps form the rest of the story far more than its predecessors. To be frank… it’s about to start getting real.
Writing / Narration
I continue to really enjoy Rowling’s writing style, and again, I think her technique is stronger here than it’s been in her previous two books. The trio are definitely starting to grow up, but subtlely. She continues to present just the right amount of details to spur the imagination, and bury subtleties in the story that aren’t noticed until they’re important much later.
Jim Dale, additionally, continues to be a treat. The more time he spends with the characters, the better his voices become. Hermione, who vexed me in book one, is barely noticeable now. Additionally, his voices for Lupin, Sirius, and Pettigrew were spot on. Love it.
This book remains my favorite in the Harry Potter series, and definitely makes it to my Top 25… Top 5, if I’m honest. Aside from the nostalgia factor of growing up with these characters, the writing really holds its own, even as I get older. It’s such fun to go back and read this book again and again, and to share it with other. Every time, there are places where I chuckle or think: “Oh! I don’t remember that! That’s wonderful!” so even on the re-reads, this book still holds magic for me.
“Harry Potter was a highly unusual boy in many ways.”
Some of My Favorite Quotes
“Mr. Moony presents his compliments to Professor Snape, and begs him to keep his abnormally large nose out of other people’s business.
Mr. Prongs agrees with Mr. Moony, and would like to add that Professor Snape is an ugly git.
Mr. Padfoot would like to register his astonishment that an idiot like that ever became a professor.
Mr. Wormtail bids Professor Snape good day, and advises him to wash his hair, the slimeball.”
“I dreamed I was buying new shoes last night,” said Ron. “What d’ya think that’s gonna mean?”
“Probably that you’re going to be eaten by a giant marshmallow or something,” said Harry.
“HELLO? HELLO? CAN YOU HEAR ME? I-WANT-TO-TALK-TO-HARRY-POTTER!”
“The consequences of our actions are always so complicated, so diverse, that predicting the future is a very difficult business indeed.”
“You look in excellent health to me, Potter, so you will excuse me if I don’t let you off homework today. I assure you that if you do die, you need not hand it in.”