Harry Potter is lucky to reach the age of thirteen, since he has already survived the murderous attacks of the feared Dark Lord on more than one occasion. But his hopes for a quiet term concentrating on Quidditch are dashed when a maniacal mass-murderer escapes from Azkaban, pursued by the soul-sucking Dementors who guard the prison. It’s assumed that Hogwarts is the safest place for Harry to be. But is it a coincidence that he can feel eyes watching him in the dark, and should he be taking Professor Trelawney’s ghoulish predictions seriously?
Prisoner of Azkaban is a wonderful entry into the Harry Potter series, and very well can act as a standalone novel. Yes, there are references to previous events in the last two books, but they are explained well enough that one could take away the gist of the situation, if they are even covered at all. Past, current and future relationships are all given at least a little bit of time to develop and flesh out, for both good and bad. Friendships are strengthened after a bit of conflict; rivalries and hatred deepen, and new bonds are revealed.
As I said before, it works well as a standalone novel. It brings depth to the brief mentions of certain aspects that get brought up in Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets. For example, the description of what Azkaban is and what happens within the deep recesses of the structure. Also, the introduction of both Sirius, and Lupin; both who are attached to Harry in one way or another, and how their backstory as Moony and Padfoot, along with Wormtail and Prongs as the Marauders gives us a taste of why Snape really hates Harry.
It has been a long time since I read this book, but it kept me enthralled just as it had when I first read it. Everyone should read this book, and this series in general.