Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a fantasy novel written by British author J. K. Rowling and the second novel in the Harry Potter series. The plot follows Harry's second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, during which a series of messages on the walls of the school's corridors warn that the "Chamber of Secrets" has been opened and that the "heir of Slytherin" would kill all pupils who do not come from all-magical families. These threats are found after attacks which leave residents of the school "petrified" (frozen like stone). Throughout the year, Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione investigate the attacks. The book was published in the United Kingdom on 2 July 1998 by Bloomsbury and later, in the United States on 2 June 1999 by Scholastic Inc. Although Rowling says she found it difficult to finish the book, it won high praise and awards from critics, young readers and the book industry, although some critics thought the story was perhaps too frightening for younger children. Much like with other novels in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets triggered religious debates; some religious authorities have condemned its use of magical themes, while others have praised its emphasis on self-sacrifice and on the way in which a person's character is the result of the person's choices. Several commentators have noted that personal identity is a strong theme in the book, and that it addresses issues of racism through the treatment of non-human, non-magical and non-living people. Some commentators regard the diary as a warning against uncritical acceptance of information from sources whose motives and reliability cannot be checked. Institutional authority is portrayed as self-serving and incompetent.
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