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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Author: J. K. Rowling
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (A Scholastic imprint.)          Date: 2007

The dust jacket for the seventh and final volume of the series is a stark contrast to the previous three. The dark color scheme has been abandoned. On the front piece, we see Harry Potter at the central foreground of the image. His left hand is held aloft as he gazes in the same direction. His right hand reaches downward, obscured by his robes. Something telling about this image is that the position of Harry is the same as that of the Magician in the Rider Waite deck. I think this is something intentional by the artist. In the background a semi-circular wall is depicted. The highest points of the arch are to the right and left of the cover and are approximately at the same apparent height as Harry's head. The lowest point of the arch is not visible because of how Harry is positioned but the line of the curve suggests that it would appear to be at shoulder height in the image. The image of Harry dominates the lower half of the cover as the sky presides over the upper portion. The color of the sky suggests some time near sunrise or sunset. Given that this is the final book, I would argue that it is sunset.

The spine depicts the sky and the wall with the title of the book, volume number, and the author's name overlaid in red foil lettering that is the same font as what is used within the book for the title, heading of chapters, and the header of the pages. This font is the same as in the other six books. The back piece of the dust jacket is dominated by a partial image of Voldemort. His hands are flung forward in either a grasping gesture or a warding gesture. The wall towers over him as the portion of the sky visible in the top right hand of the scene is an orange-red. The image of Voldemort continues into the back flap. This image is divided almost neatly in half. On the left side is a yellow curtain pulled back. To the right, we see Voldemort's flowing robes and hooded head. The only elements of the face that are visible are the eyes and the area immediately surrounding. The lines of this image suggests that Voldemort is grimacing. It could be argued that this is an expression of high fury.

The cover is gray with a harlequin design impressed on it. The spine is bound with yellow canvas. Red foil lettering is along it indicating the title, volume number, author's last name, and the publishing house's logo. It is in the same typefont as was used on the spine portion of the dust jacket. The fly pages on the insides of the cover are a brilliant red. In the somewhat dim light of my living room right now, it looks to be crimson. It is quite striking and appropriate for this volume. Where there was a great deal of tension and limited violence in the sixth book, the seventh book of the series raises both to a fever pitch. We see Harry, Ron Weasley, and Hermoine Granger depart from the relative safety of Ron's family home and of Hogwarts to search for Voldemort. It becomes clear as the story progresses that the interpersonal tensions between these three characters has deepened along with their growth.

The oppresive air of paranoia within the Wizarding world touches the trio in unexpected ways. It becomes clear that human rights violations have become the rule of the day. In many ways, Rowling suggests the Wizarding equivalent of the anti-Semite fervor at the outset of World War II in Germany through subtle hints. At roughly the midpoint of the book, it becomes especially clear the hostility expressed against wizards and witches born of nonmagical parents. While the fantastic elements of the story softens the horror of the situation, it is still very clear what terrible things are occurring in the Wizarding world. The search for Voldemort and the means to end his reign of terror takes on a grave pathos as the struggles the three friends encounter grow progressively more severe.

On the whole, the story moves from an air of anxiety and the threat of violence to outright acts of violence and inhumanity around the trio. Through Harry, Ron, and Hermoine, we witness the darkest elements of humanity as manifested in the fantasy world of the series. Rowling handles this with a deft touch and presents just the right mix of fantasy, comedic relief, and pathos. Of all the series, I believe this is the best written of the books. The tension and pacing are exceptional. It keeps the reader on the edge of their seat up to the final conflict, wherein Harry faces Voldemort himself in a duel. Harry's victory comes with a high price but it is quite satisfying to read. And hopeful notes remain, such as Harry's foil, Draco Malfoy, is redeemed from his ways. Indeed, the redemption of Draco Malfoy leads to the redemption of his family, which had been Voldemort's staunchest supporters. And it establishes the eventual return to normalacy that is described in the epilouge.