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Table of Contents                                                                                       Elizabeth Chayne's Reading Corner







Fantasy & SF







Feature Articles


New ALLISON & BUSBY titles

Scene of the Crime

Yen Press Manga

What makes a classic book?

Judging a book by its cover

Introducing the Original Dangerous Books for Boys

Interview: James Delingpole

Nostalgia: Things are what they used to be!

Nostalgia Central: Carlton Books

Elizabeth Chayne's Reading Room

Personalised Noddy Books from Harper Collins


Stories and Serials


Phyllis Owen: A Soft White Cloud Chapter Four

Gareth Owen: Poem

Paul Norman: Daylights

Paul Norman: Heraklion ~ Outcast

Star Wars: Dark Emperor

Owen Owen's Gallery


Marvel comics

Top Cow comics

Image Comics

DC Comics

Dark Horse Comics

Devil's Due Comics



Can’t Help Wondering

By Elizabeth Chayne

There are, it seems, three kinds of Potter fans. The first kind, also known as the “I-used-to-like-Harry-but-now-I -don’t”s; the second, the “everyone-likes-Harry-so-I-might-as-well-like-him-too”s, and lastly, there are the real Harry fans, the ones who were there from the first word and will be there until the credits roll on the last movie.

I apologize if this deviation from the usual Reading Column comes as a surprise. It’s just that, with both the last book and the fifth movie coming out over the summer, it’s pretty much irresistible not to have my say on it! But fear not, I’m not planning to do anything in the manner of a review, either book or movie, (I’ll leave that to the experts) I’m just going to have a bit of a musing on the subject.

So, Pottermania. It’s been around for what seems like ages. Ever since the first Potter book hit shelves, the world has suddenly become full of broomsticks, wizards, and magic, as well as fantasy books.

The big question that’s been rolling round in my head for the past ten years or so, is Why? Why Harry Potter? He’s certainly not the first wizard to show up in the world, Hogwarts certainly isn’t the first magic school, and there are tons of books that depict friendship all over the place. So why is this one the one people like?

A friend gave me a copy of the first book a few years ago. (Up until then, I had no idea where all this magical stuff was coming from.) “Read it,” she suggested. “It might interest you.”

 “What’s it all about?” I asked.

“Oh, wizards in training, that sort of thing.”

“Big deal” was about to be the next retort to leave my lips, but she just grinned at me and said. “Everyone’s buying it, so there must be something good in it.”

I must say the first book did not see my immediate enrollment into the Harry Potter Fan Club. It seemed to me to be very “puny”, but not very much else. The names were cute, the magical world somewhat laughable, but otherwise I couldn’t see any reason for liking it--well, perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I’d been younger. 

The third book, where things started getting somewhat darker, was more my cup of tea. It didn’t look so much like a children’s book anymore, and it was definitely thicker. Which to me, is always something of a good sign. The puns had slacked off quite considerably as well. All in all, I was starting to feel some of the pull.

But somehow there was still something lacking. Speaking as someone who has never lined up to get a signed copy or felt the urge to dress up in robes, I couldn’t help wondering what the rest of the world was seeing that I didn’t. After all, one doesn’t shell out tons of money for Harry Potter books, stationery, and buy robes just for fun.

And even though the seventh book has come out, and the tale has finally ended, I still find myself searching. Why, I ask my friends, do you like Harry Potter so much? What’s in it for you? Or it is just me? Am I emotionally tone deaf or something all of a sudden?

The series do make quite good reading, but I confess that I can’t find enough in it to make me wonder about myself, or the world, or anything.

Perhaps it’s one of those things that grow on you gradually. That must be it.

Gateway is published by Paul Edmund Norman on the first day of each month. Hosting is by Flying Porcupine at - and web design by Gateway. Submitting to Gateway: Basically, all you need do is e-mail it along and I'll consider it - it can be any length, if it's very long I'll serialise it, if it's medium-length I'll put it in as a novella, if it's a short story or a feature article it will go in as it comes. Payment is zero, I'm afraid, as I don't make any money from Gateway, I do it all for fun! For Advertising rates in Gateway please contact me at Should you be kind enough to want to send me books to review, please contact me by e-mail and I will gladly forward you my home address. Meanwhile, here's how to contact me:

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