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IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Harry Potter used to dominate the New York Times bestseller list

Harry Potter used to dominate the New York Times bestseller list, crowding out other big-name titles and their disgruntled publishers. In response, the Times began a children's list and banished the Potter books to it. That demotion couldn't keep Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix from dominating bookselling news, gobbling up sales records, and knocking Hillary Clinton's memoir off the front pages.

This Potter is long-870 pages-and full of new gadgets, creatures, and wizard jokes, which author J.K. Rowling throws in whenever the narrative flags. Harry storms through most of the book, adolescent anger smoldering just below the surface, erupting often in angry outbursts directed at teachers and friends alike.

Order of the Phoenix reads less like an epic tale of good versus evil than a boarding-school story pitting a petty and vindictive teacher against a particularly promising student. There is enough gross-out humor and action to amuse young fans, but adults who have been touting the series as the next Lord of the Rings will be disappointed.