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4 Great Cliffhanger Chapter Endings

Admit it. Even though you’ve read the Harry Potter books three, four, er–twenty times before, when you get to the end of some chapters, you just HAVE to turn the page and keep reading. You even get a tiny reminder of that thrill you had the first time you read it, that shiver of excitement that made you charge on into the next chapter at 3am, even when you had somewhere to be first thing the next morning.

We’ve all been there. So to celebrate our shared unashamed love affair with the Harry Potter books, here’s a list of Rowling’s “4 Best Cliffhanger Chapter Endings” from the first three books:

End of Philosopher’s Stone, chapter 3:

Someone was outside, knocking to come in.

Remember the first time you read this? If you’re lucky, you hadn’t seen the films yet, so you honestly didn’t know who it was pounding on the door of the Hut-On-The-Rock in the middle of a storm, but you knew you were finally going to get some answers after several chapters of mysterious build-up. You knew that you were finally going to meet whoever was sending those darned letters!

End of Philosopher’s Stone, chapter 16:

There was already someone there — but it wasn’t Snape. It wasn’t even Voldemort.

And boom, she did it again! Same trick. And it works on us again … We just have to turn the page and find out who it is.

End of Chamber of Secrets, chapter 1:

Harry crossed to his bedroom on tiptoe slipped inside, closed the door, and turned to collapse on his bed. The trouble was, there was already someone sitting on it.

And she did it yet again!

End of Chapter 17 of Prisoner of Azkaban

c16--professor-trelawneys-prediction“That’s not a rat,” croaked Sirius Black suddenly.
“What d’you mean — of course he’s a rat –“
“No, he’s not,” said Lupin quietly. “He’s a wizard.”
“An Animagus,” said Black, “by the name of Peter Pettigrew.”

Probably the most stunning moment in the series, at least up to that point. For many fans, myself included, that was the moment when we realized that we were hopelessly trapped. We realized that there was More To The Story than we imagined. We realized that Rowling was a heck of a lot trickier than we’d given her credit for. And we realized that we were now going to go back and re-read each book a lot more carefully, over and over, for years to come. That was the moment when we became True Fans.

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  • Nick Moline

    Excellent choices.

    Moving to the end of the series, the one cliffhanger chapter that got me (and my wife and best friend, we were all reading together) the most, was the end of DH4, when I was certain that Hagrid was dead. “Accio Hagrid!” Especially with the chapter title of the next chapter being “Fallen Warrior” All 3 of us stopped reading and just sat there bawling, convinced Hagrid was gone for good. I composed myself first and moved on to the next chapter and shouted out “It’s Ok, he’s ALIVE! READ!”

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