If I'd been Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley, I would have waited for Mr. and Mrs. Weasley to come out of the barrier. Or, as Professor McGonnagall reminds them later on, used Hedwig to send a message. I would never have thought, huh, maybe we should use the magic car. I really don't fancy plummeting to my death somewhere over Scotland. It could have happened. Then again, twelve year olds. I really feel for the Weasleys here, the Saviour of the Wizarding World and my youngest son have mysteriously vanished with the magical car and I am also the guy in charge of the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts office, well.
It's a bit funny how the Whomping Willow appears a book ahead of the point where it's important AND we've got Scabbers right there, possible having *war flashbacks* of his youth. Why is the Whomping Willow not something anyone is warned about in their first year at Hogwarts? "Oh look, a nice tree to lean against as I stu-" I really like the idea of the Whomping Willow though, and a lot of the other wizarding botanical specimens as well. More on that for the next chapter.
Mr. Weasley facing an inquiry at work is the worst thing in this chapter. Lockhart's presence is the second-worst thing. But herbology is pretty cool! We've got actualfax crying mandrake babies in this one, and I have no idea if the mandrakes mature into adult bodies, or if they remain the same way? They probably aren't sentient or conscious, but still man, the idea of juiced plant-babies is kind of metal (and super convenient for the people who get petrified. or is that Hogwarts students study every possible magical thing so whatever predicament happens, they'd have the cure anyway). How cool are magical plants anyway with their crying, and whomping, and allowing you to breathe underwater, or tangle you up and keep you forever? How do you keep muggles from not seeing plants of death? Do ministry people obfuscate each magical plant in the wild? Is that why they were too busy to deal with all the future Voldemort-related crises?
We get to meet Justin Finch-Fletchley, who is one of my favourite side characters solely based on the fact that he has a compound last name and that he's usually well-written in fan fiction (and his name was down for Eton), and Colin Creevey, who is probably one of my least favourite ones, both muggleborns and plot-relevant. Colin Creevey has a camera! And he takes pictures of Harry Potter! And probably thinks in exclamation points! All! The! Time! But he's totes a Gryffindor, because for the second time in this book, a tiny first year Gryffindor kid defends Harry Potter against Draco Malfoy. It is a thing.
Ugh, anyway, Lockhart swoops in and is basically the most terrible, self-absorbed person ever. I can't even deal with how much I dislike him. He's a windbag, and everyone knows it: the other professors, his students, so on, and so forth. I do not know how my precious Hermione got taken in by such an obvious fake. She was clearly saving her brains for world-saving uses. Was it really the worst scenario to allow Snape to teach Defence Against Dark Arts, Dumbledore? Really? Unless the curse is legit, which I really don't think it is so much as a convenient fiction. I really don't know if Lockhard really is the only person to have applied for the job, but ugh. This is slowly becoming a Dumbledore hate blog.
So, Quidditch practice, blah blah, a reason for Draco Malfoy to be racist and underline the muggleborn-pureblood thing, and allow us to be reminded that Hagrid got expelled from Hogwarts for reasons we have yet to find out about. Also for the AMAZING mental image of Ron Weasley puking up slugs and slime (also green light???) on an anonymous award.
But I'll admit the random whispering that only Harry can hear thing is really, really cool.
P. S. Why, oh why, are brooms not standardised equipment? Especially school brooms? Having magical healing spells makes wizards really lax about keeping people alive and uninjured.
I've said it before, but I'll say it again, I really love how Rowling does her transitions. They're fun and they help with the world-building.
I do enjoy the details of the Deathday party although the Headless Hunt douches are terrible. (An aside: I love the way <lj user= "copperbadge"> deals with Nearly Headless Nick's predicament in Laocoon's Children. ) I really like the idea of the ghosts having social lives, and having the house-elves make them rotten/burnt food. AND WITH ENTERTAINMENT.
So, Argus Filch is a squib. He can't do magic, so he has to do menial labour and apply for bogus correspondence courses that he hopes can help him become a full-fledged wizard. Filch could easily be replaced by a person with a functioning wand and knowledge of "Scourgify", but Hogwarts keeps him on. What do the Hogwarts house-elves do then? I am not sure how I feel about it, but I'm pretty sure that Filch's life kind of sucks. :c His only companion is Mrs. Norris, and the poor thing gets petrified. :/
Speaking of animal cruelty, come on Weasley twins why would you feed a salamander a firework?
Draco Malfoy, you little shit, why are you showing off, people will know you know about the Heir of Slytherin, also stop calling people mudbloods. IDK how the Malfoys survived this long.