Harry Potter and his friends, Ron and Hermione, are waiting to return to Hogwarts for their 6th year. The magical world Harry finds himself in is in panic with Lord Voldemort now openly causing mayhem and terror.
Harry is fetched early during the summer vacation from Privet Drive by Albus Dumbledore, where he asks Harry to accompany him to the house of an old teacher of Hogwarts – Horace Slughorn. Harry and Dumbledore arrive to try to convince Slughorn to return to Hogwarts to teach, and Slughorn very reluctantly agrees.
Harry spends the rest of his summer with the Weasleys at their home, the Burrow. He meets Fleur Delacour again, now engaged to Ron’s older brother Bill, much to the irritation of Mrs. Weasley, who doesn’t seem to regard Fleur as worthy of her son. When the group visits Diagon Alley, under the safe watch of Hagrid, they finally see what Fred and George have been up to since leaving school. Their wizarding shop – Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, openly mocks You-know-who, and is the only shop in Diagon Alley taking a cheerful approach on life.
On the Hogwarts Express, Harry is annoyed when Ginny leaves them to go sit with her boyfriend, Dean Thomas. Harry tells himself firmly that his feelings are brotherly, and doesn’t think that it might be more. He is interested to find out that Draco Malfoy isn’t abusing his Prefect duties, and sets out to find out why he is neglecting his favourite past-time. In the Slytherin corridor of the train, Draco openly boasts about a task that Voldemort had set for him, but doesn’t give any conclusive information. Harry is found by Draco, and left on the train injured, but Tonks, one of the Order members, arrives and takes Harry to the castle. Harry is shocked by the change in Tonks – her usual quirkiness is gone, and she is constantly distracted.
At school, Harry is shocked when he finds out that Professor Slughorn had returned to teach Potions, not Defence Against the Dark Arts. Professor Snape, Harry’s least favourite teacher, therefore got his life’s wish to become DADA teacher. They are all shocked to why Dumbledore allowed the thing Snape had openly sought for years.
Meanwhile, someone at Hogwarts is trying increasingly desperate measures to kill someone within the school. Katie Bell, a member of the Gryffindor Quidditch team nearly dies when she tries to take a cursed necklace into Hogwarts. Ron is poisoned in Slughorn’s office, and is only saved when Harry finds a bezoar to push down his throat – a cure to many poisons. Harry becomes obsessed with proving it is Draco Malfoy behind it all, but everyone, including Dumbledore, ignores Harry about this.
Harry receives private lessons from Dumbledore, and Dumbledore sets to show Harry as much as he possibly can about Voldemort’s life. Even as a child, Voldemort had immense control over his powers, not even caring if he hurt other children with it. He had no problem at all murdering for things he wanted, and indeed murdered all his living relations as a teen. Harry never receives any form of homework from Dumbledore, until Dumbledore asks him to retrieve a memory Slughorn, telling Harry that it is the most important information he will ever receive to Lord Voldemort’s immortality. This seems increasingly difficult, as Slughorn expected Dumbledore to try something of the sort. When Harry retrieves it, he learns that Voldemort had split his soul into seven pieces, making him immortal. Voldemort hid the pieces of his soul, Horcruxes, in different locations, and Dumbledore tells Harry that he can accompany Dumbledore on the next quest.
Harry and Dumbledore set of one night to find and destroy a Horcrux. They go to a hidden lake, a place where Voldemort had tortured young children in his youth, and after Dumbledore drinks a poison, they get the Horcrux. With Dumbledore seriously injured, the two return to Hogsmeade to find that the Dark Mark had been cast above the Astronomy tower. They rush to the school, with Harry under the invisibility cloak, they find Draco Malfoy waiting for Dumbledore, and disarms him. Dumbledore manages to convince Draco to allow Dumbledore to help him. Snape arrives, and kills Dumbledore. Fleeing from the castle, Snape reveals that he was the Half-Blood Prince, and that Harry had used his old Potions book the whole time. Harry finds that the Horcrux is a fake, and that someone else, RAB, took the real horcrux.
In the hospital wing, where everyone is taken to recuperate, Harry shares the news that Dumbledore has died. Fleur and Mrs. Weasley make peace when Mrs. Weasley sees that Fleur intends to stay with Bill even though he was attacked by a werewolf, and this prompts a fight between Tonks and Lupin – Tonks’ drastic change in nature had been caused by her unrequited love for Lupin.
After the funeral, Harry breaks up with Ginny, whom he had been dating since the Quidditch final. He tells her that it would be too dangerous to date her, that she would be in grave danger in Voldemort ever suspected Harry had feelings for her. He tells Ron and Hermione that he won’t be returning to Hogwarts, and they tell him in return that they will accompany him on his quest to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes.
What a phenomenal book! The Half-Blood Prince awed me, and repulsed me a little as well. Every part of every book slots perfectly into each other. My heart broke when Dumbledore died, and Harry lost yet another close mentor in his life. Harry finally falls for Ginny, and that girl had been waiting for him since the Chamber of Secrets. I love how she grew into this smart-mouthed individual, able to fight for what she believes in. No other type of girl deserved Harry 🙂