How Harry Cast His Spell: The Meaning Behind the Mania for J.K. Rowling’s Bestselling Books
By John Granger
Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2008
Review by Carl McColman
Finally, a book about Harry Potter, written from a Christian perspective, that doesn’t just get into hysterical anti-witchcraft paranoia! This is a revision of Granger’s earlier book, Looking for God in Harry Potter, which was published before the final Potter book was released last year. So this new edition reviews all seven of Rowling’s books, and situates the Harry Potter story in the context of the Christian (yes, Christian) English literary tradition. Granger makes the case that Christians need to regard all the oogie-boogie elements of Potter-world (the witchcraft, magic, etc.) as simply a literary device — that the real point behind these books is the struggle of good versus evil, the meaning of sacrifice, and the postmodern condition of trying to find faith in a world that does not support it. Granger deftly points out how Rowling uses not only Christian allegorical symbolism, but alchemical symbolism throughout the series, and makes the case that the “alchemy” of Harry Potter is a grand metaphor for the Christian spiritual life. It’s engaging and easy to read, and shows once and for all that Rowling deserves to be classified alongside Tolkien and C.S. Lewis as Britain’s leading authors of Christian-friendly fantasy literature.