Believe it or not, 13-year-old Harry Potter can't wait to get back to school. He's more than ready to start his third year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry after spending another terrible summer vacation with his nasty Muggle (non-magical) relatives, the Dursleys.
This summer was the worst yet, as Harry let his temper and his magic fly. When loud, annoying Aunt Marge visits the Dursleys and makes some mean comments about Harry, he blows her up with air like a giant balloon. Afraid of what his punishment from the Dursleys (or from Ministry of Magic officials) might be, Harry runs away. But in the middle of the night he is rescued by a mysterious, magical purple bus that whisks him to safety at an inn called the Leaky Cauldron. It's there that Harry learns that his third year at school will be the strangest --- and scariest --- ever.
Harry hears that Sirius Black, the right-hand-man of evil wizard Voldemort (who was responsible for killing Harry's parents), has escaped from Azkaban, the wizards' prison. But worse than that, Sirius is looking for Harry! Dumbledore (head of Hogwarts) and Ministry of Magic officials protect Harry by assigning ghoulish-looking Dementors to guard the entrances to Hogwarts. As another safety precaution, Harry is not permitted to leave the campus (though he finds a way to sneak off on a forbidden field trip).
But why do the Dementors chill Harry to the bone and render him powerless whenever they look at him? A new Hogwarts professor, Professor Lupin, holds the answer to that question and many other creepy mysteries. We won't give the secret away, but Professor Lupin turns out to be something more than he appears...
In between all their classes, Harry and his pals Ron and Hermione have plenty to do. They must find a way to help their friend (and now, a professor), Hagrid, when he gets in trouble with school officials. And, of course, Harry is still the star player on the Gryffindor Quidditch team --- this time on a brand new, super-duper broom, an anonymous gift that arrived out of nowhere.
Come along as Harry not only faces off with Sirius Black, but finds out more about his family history --- and the fascinating history of Hogwarts. This crisply-paced fantasy will leave you hungry for the four additional Harry books that J.K. Rowling is working on.
Harry's third year is a charm. Don't miss it.
Reviewed by Shannon Maughan on September 11, 2001
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Book 3