A couple of weeks ago, I finished HP book number 3, The Prisoner Of Azkaban. I read the first two books years ago and had no desire to read it further, because I formed a certain opinion about this whole book series. Then somehow I decided that may be, I was just prejudiced and should give it another try, so I did.
Here are my honest thoughts on the subject. First, I really can't understand how any serious Christian can give this or other HP books to his minor children. It's a book about witchcraft, sorcery and incantations, and boys and girls learning how to be witches and wizards. Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live comes to mind immediately. Just like with so many other things, modern Christians will find any number of reasons why it's actually OK for us. As someone wrote, it's not wrong to read about it because you aren't actually doing it. I wonder if they use the same reasoning about p0rn?
This said, what really baffles me is how folks described HP series as "the best books they've ever read". I mean like really? Because I've read much better books in my life, including children's books. It's like somebody comparing his experiences at McDonald's to fine dining. The author was praised for creating "a whole magic universe". But what do we see of it? It's mostly about a boarding school (probably of the sort the writer herself attended, that's why she could describe it so well). There is very little outside of it.(May be there is more as the series progress but I honestly have no desire to find out).
A magic village is mentioned many times and the kids are allowed to visit it. It's the only village in the whole of UK fully free of "muggles" and what do we learn about it? It has a great candy shop! That's about all. The rest is all school, teachers, students, exams and playing sports. It's actually a very artificial environment with only a hint at the normal family life and conflicts which are inevitably connected with living in society so there is little psychological development of any sort. The chief conflict is between Harry's sportsball team and that of Slytherin and between Harry and his friends vs Professor Snape, who is mean, we all get it.
Dementors aren't really explained, either. Not every grown up can defend himself against them, but the Ministry of Magic has no problem moving them here and there. Also, the story doesn't really develop until the last third or so of the book, where (I will admit), it does get interesting. The main moral lesson appears to be that death penalty is bad because someone can get falsely accused. I could read the same in the Guardian and it would cost me less time.
There is a reason why these books have become the world bestsellers and were made into movies and it's not because they are the best thing ever written. (Frankly, I find them quite mediocre). In my opinion, there are actually two reasons for this. First, the biggest book and film market is, of course, the USA, and lots of folks there are raving mad about anything British, especially if it hints at "upper class British", "aristocracy", "royalty" and stuff like that. It has been milked for all it's worth lately with shows like Downton Abbey, royal weddings and such.
The second reason is much more nefarious. Someone has decided to promote this particular series of books for kids which shows witchcraft as fun and normal people as boring. Someone invested lots of money into marketing campaign for the books which essentially attack one of the tenets of Christianity. Should we be surprised? Me, I'm only surprised that so many Christians fell for it.