While charting teenage infatuations and friendships with a wry wit that occasionally tumbles into outright merriment, Rowling tucks in several revelations (notably, the secret to Voldemortâ€™s seeming immortality), adds a dash of sympathy for Malfoy (of all people!), who does indeed turn out to be part of an ugly scheme, and further develops Snapeâ€™s role as a pivotal character. Then, after a heartrending test of Harryâ€™s loyalty to Dumbledore, Rowling propels the plot to a climax that isâ€”thanks to artful pre-pub preparationâ€”tragic, but not uncomfortably shocking. This newest excursion into the Potterverse will leave readers pleased, amused, excited, scared, infuriated, delighted, sad, surprised, thoughtfulâ€”and likely wondering where Voldemort has got to, since he appears only in flashbacks. Thereâ€™s no doubt, however, that heâ€™ll figure prominently in what promises to be a spectacular finish.