Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader
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Unlocking Harry Potter: Five Keys for the Serious Reader

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  456 ratings  ·  21 reviews
UNLOCKING HARRY POTTER gives you five essential keys for understanding the HARRY POTTER series. Not just who will live or die in DEATHLY HOLLOWS, but how J.K. Rowling created the most successful books of our times. To understand the story behind the stories, John Granger, author of THE HIDDEN KEY TO HARRY POTTER and editor of WHO KILLED ALBUS DUMBLEDORE?, introduces the th...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Zossima Press
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Except for the first chapter, I found Granger's arguments unconvincing. There are equally valid explanations for all the phenomena he points out.
I found Unlocking Harry Potter interesting, even useful, but fundamentally flawed and deeply irritating. John Granger gives us lenses (keys) through which to view aspects of the Harry Potter novels. Some of them are mysterious and new (alchemy), and some of them are just basic English 101. I’ll start with the 101 material.


Granger spends a chapter on “narrative misdirection.” He shows how the point of view of the novels is intended to keep us looking at all the action throug...more
I really enjoyed this book, even if it was a little over my head. I like John Granger and I think he is a logical author, one who doesn't just say something for the sake of being heard. He really does his research, and even if his assumptions or theories are wrong, you can't say that he didn't back them up with a lot of evidence. I especially liked this book because it gave me an entirely new view on HP. I never really considered all that went into HP, especially his whole chapter on Alchemy (al...more
Linda C.
Aug 13, 2008 Linda C. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Harry Potter fans
Shelves: referencebooks
John Granger has been one of the foremost champions of recognizing the importance of literary alchemy in the Harry Potter series. This is his fourth book examining and analyzing evidence from the wildly popular series.

Many people simply scratch their heads and say, "Alchemy? That weird pseudo-science that predated chemistry? The one where nuts tried to turn lead into gold?"

Yup, that's the one. Except John Granger goes on to explain exactly what alchemy was and wasn't, and why our perceptions of...more
Mar 28, 2007 Amanda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone!
Whew! I have finished Granger's thoroughly literate and articulate analysis of the Harry Potter series and am immediately eager to read it again. I have gleaned a tremendous amount of insight into the series itself, as well as the highly sophisticated nature of Rowling's writing, writing that has previously been dubbed by the Ivory Tower as unworthy of serious reflection. His "five keys" to understanding the series are enlightening and enriching, not to mention extremely validating for fans who...more
This is, as the title suggests, a book for serious readers. It is about the literary symbolism and structure of the series, with the goal of then forecasting what will happen in book seven.

While I can't say that I "enjoyed" reading this book the way I enjoyed read Harry Potter, I did learn about Harry Potter, English literature, and what to look for when I read other books.

If' you're looking for light beach reading, start over with book one and read J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, not this on...more
Brian Burriston
I found the Postmodern themes (Key 4) hard to get through but was interested in learning how to look at the series from the literary perspective. Remembering this was written before the book 7 was out I tried not to judge on his misses but rather learn from his message and several points came through in totally different fashions, but they came none the less. I am thinking of the Malfoys linking up the Slytherin house at the end, Dobby's overlooked powers were critical to Harry's success as well...more
This book is a wonderful bridge between Harry Potter and classical literature: Shakespeare, Austen, the Greek classics, Blake, Milton and more. The author is an English teacher. I wish I knew about this book when niece Hannah was struggling with her Shakespeare class and the concept of literary alchemy. Granger is a bit long-winded and over technical when it comes to his discussion of literary alchemy but teachers and parents, take note. Once you have "cracked the code" with Granger and explain...more
Well-documented discussion of alchemy (in particular) and post-modernism in the Harry Potter books; written too soon, though, and the "predictions" for the last book were, for the most part, way off. I would like to see how the seventh book fits in in regards to the alchemy discussed early in the book. Glaring grammatical errors plague the last few chapters, though, so it seems to have been rushed in production so as to cash in on the pre-seventh Harry Potter release.
Granger has produced a brilliant introduction to literary alchemy via the Harry Potter series, incorporating crossovers with (albeit basic) postmodern and post-colonial theory. My one qualm is with his blatant and frequent reminders to us and unnecessary defense of Rowling's Christian faith, mentioning it throughout the six-chapter book no less than four times. (Rowling, by the way, has said she is a Christian.)
Despair Speaking
Wasn't my type but it's good book for those curious about what's real and what's not and all that stuff regarding Harry Potter.

I DID notice something interesting though. It's one of the reasons why I bought this book in the first place. The author's name is John Granger. GRANGER. Ring any bells? Can he be her Muggle relative...? Future son? Hmmm... an interesting possibility.
Marissa  Pineda
I really liked this book insofar as it gave me insight to some of the myths and stories that may have influenced JK Rowling in her writing. The book was written before the Harry Potter series was finished, so there are a lot of predictions in it. Though some of them were wrong, a great many were dead-on, and the logic behind those predictions was fun to read.
Artnoose Noose
Jul 26, 2008 Artnoose Noose rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommended to Artnoose by: Scott
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
Scott left this book at my house and I tried reading it so I could be a full HP geek, but honestly all this alchemy stuff was really repetitive and maybe I just don't like reading literary criticism.
Adam Ross
This is possibly the best introduction to the Potter books available. If you want to understand what is going on "behind the scenes" in Harry Potter, this is the book.
The first couple of sections on literary alchemy were especially interesting!
Makes reading Harry Potter even more fun than before. Very insightful.

Oct 22, 2009 Ayah is currently reading it
Recommends it for: very serious readers of harry potter
Extremely thought provoking, detailed, and heavy. great stuff.
I liked this book because it gives you all the inside information.
Nov 01, 2012 Alisha rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
willing to admit i might be a little obsessed.
Apr 05, 2008 Tasha added it
Shelves: books-i-own
another book that was given to me.
Jul 26, 2009 Ashley rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
book club pick for march
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