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July 16, 2014 / Angela Sylvia

Quick Look: Hidden Details in Harry Potter

Continuing my bout of rereading the Harry Potter series, I’ve noticed again the details that were invisible to me on m first trek through. Little things that not only make Rowling’s world rich and real, but prove that she wasn’t making this series up as she went — everything was planned.

Just finishing (re-finishing?) The Half-Blood Prince, the main thing that popped out was the Horcruxes, and the fact that Harry finds one without even realizing it when he tries to hide his book in the Room of Requirement.

Would he be able to find this spot again amidst all this junk? Seizing the chipped bust of an ugly old warlock from on top of a nearby crate, he stood it on top of the cupboard where the book was now hidden, perched a dusty old wig and a tarnished tiara on the statue’s head to make it more distinctive, then sprinted back through the alleyways of hidden junk as fast as he could go…

Rowling includes so much detail in this paragraph, so the mention of a “tarnished tiara” hardly stands out. But, we learn towards the end of the seventh book that this is Ravenclaw’s tiara, and one of the Horcruxes Harry has to destroy. She tucks the detail in there so perfectly that no one but Rowling knows its importance, and also grants it the delightful feeling of an Easter Egg when us readers return to the story with our future knowledge.

I’ve never written anything meant to be a series (my current manuscript has potential for a sequel, but that’s different) and it’s only the daunting anxiety I have with world-building that gives me an idea of the forethought and planning that goes into story elements like this, ones you can’t go back and retroactively insert once earlier segments are published. It’s one reason why Rowling is a master, and one reason why returning to her books is a delightful journey–and teaching experience–for me.

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4 Comments

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  1. Natalie / Jul 16 2014 10:52 am

    Sorry to mention it in a comment but I’m currently hosting a giveaway for a book called Half a King by Joe Abercrombie. However, so far, there has been little interest so I am trying to reach out to bloggers who may be interested. I have a review of the book along with the giveaway together in one post so, if you would be interested, would you mind checking it out? I’m worried in case my giveaway turns into a failure as the publishing company were the ones to contact me offering a giveaway.

    • Angela Sylvia / Jul 18 2014 6:43 am

      That’s fine. Next time, feel free to send me an email or a tweet (listed on my contacts page).

  2. Jeyna Grace / Jul 17 2014 12:29 am

    Easter Eggs is one reason why I love rereading HP. The discovery of something new makes the adventure even better.

    • Angela Sylvia / Jul 18 2014 6:45 am

      I notice something I hadn’t seen, or forgot about, every time I go through them. I only didn’t include the part where he FINDS THE NECKLACE in book 5 because I haven’t read it recently and didn’t want to dig through the book again, but I had an audible reaction to figuring that out.

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