J.K. Rowling’s fourth entry into the Harry Potter world is a turning point for the series. The book’s length is almost double that of Prisoner of Azkaban. They are no longer children’s books, now they are novels. It is more adult and much darker than previous entries.
J.K. expands the wizarding world in a lot of ways. The Quidditch World Cup is a huge event, drawing witches and wizards from all over the world. She introduces new wizard schools like Beauxbatons and Durmstrang. The Ministry of Magic plays a bigger role, foreshadowing events to come in the Order of the Phoenix. J.K. Rowling starts to explore the political side of the wizarding world, showcasing how the accused Death Eaters were put on trial, and comments about how Fudge is afraid to lose power and control.
Harry and his friends are now teenagers and their hormones are raging. They start to notice to opposite sex. Harry has his first crush, Hermione has her first boyfriend, and Ron gets jealous. Ron and Harry also have a huge argument and spend a significant part of the story being mad at each other. There are a few new notable characters like the snooping reporter Rita Skeeter, the star Quidditch player Victor Krum, Barty Crouch, Sr. and Jr. and perhaps most importantly Mad-Eye Moody.
A lot of the book tackles subject matters that aren’t suitable for kids. People die in this book, innocent muggles like Frank Bryce, Ministry members like Barty Crouch, Sr. and even Hogwarts students like Cedric Diggory. Voldemort comes back, and there is a fierce dual between him and Harry.
Harry is mysteriously entered into the Triwizard Tournament, and he stumbles through the tasks with a lot of help and a lot of luck, but not much skill. Harry’s biggest turning point in the entire series takes place in the graveyard after the third task. “Harry crouched behind the headstone and knew the end had come. There was no hope… no help to be had. And as he heard Voldemort draw nearer still, he knew one thing only, and it was beyond fear or reason: He was not going to die crouching here like a child playing hide-and-seek; he was not going to die kneeling at Voldemort’s feet… he was going to die upright like his father, and he was going to die trying to defend himself, even if no defense was possible….” This is the moment where Harry steps up, where he accepts that he can’t control his fate but he can control how he handles it.
This book was a huge step forward in the saga. The story didn’t just darken, it also became more complex. There are more story arcs and subplots that only become relevant later on. There are subtle lines like, “For a fleeting instant, Harry thought he saw a glimpse of something like triumph in Dumbledore’s eyes” that will eventually get explained in the final few books. And Voldemort finally comes back, and the threat is now real. J.K. Rowling took Potter to the next level, and the phenomenon became justified.
Critically Rated at 14/17