From the New York Times Book Review:

For all this apparently staunch secularism, it is ontology that ultimately slackens the tension that ought to have kept these tales vivid and alive. Theologians have never been able to answer the challenge that contrasts God’s claims to simultaneous omnipotence and benevolence: whence then cometh evil? The question is the same if inverted in a Manichean form: how can Voldemort and his wicked forces have such power and yet be unable to destroy a mild-mannered and rather disorganized schoolboy? In a short story this discrepancy might be handled and also swiftly resolved in favor of one outcome or another, but over the course of seven full-length books the mystery, at least for this reader, loses its ability to compel, and in this culminating episode the enterprise actually becomes tedious. Is there really no Death Eater or dementor who is able to grasp the simple advantage of surprise?


  1. Just when you think Hitchens has run out of things on which to miss the point, he goes one better. Has this man never heard of FANTASY? Of willing suspension of disbelief? What a maroon.

  2. Blah, blah, blah. There speaks the man who picked the earwax-flavored bean. Someone give him a hug.

    Can’t speak for the theologians, but my 14-year-old and 11-year-old paced the floor for about twenty minutes while i read them Chapter 36.

  3. I do think Harry Potter encounters Voldemort way too many times in the series. (I’ve only read the first book and seen the movies, though… so I’m no expert). Every time Voldemort encounters him, Voldemort fails to defeat him. It really does make Voldemort seem sort of ineffectual, and lessens his stature as a powerful villain.

  4. I like Christopher Hitchens. I agree with about half his views, and the way he expresses the other half at least entertains me. But when I see someone begin their review of a Harry Potter book with a discussion of a 70 year old essay by George Orwell, I just think . . . duuuude, come on!

  5. The Anti-Semitism remark regarding the Goblins at Gringotts is the most hilarious. Hitchens, what about the fact that it’s a children’s series? I have the feeling this evil stick-in-the-mud sets out to diminish anything popular.