Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince  - Stephen Fry, J.K. Rowling Thankfully not as long as HP and the Order of the Phoenix, the sixth instalment in the adventures of Harry and his friends felt somewhat more disciplined than numbers 4 and 5. I was glad that Harry had moved beyond the emo-sulks of the last episode and was a bit more mature, if not always particularly smart or insightful.

There are lots of things to love about this book. The teenage romance sub-theme rang true. The flashback scenes using the pensive were also well done. Rowling cleverly uses them to engender understanding of, if not sympathy for, the motivation and psyche of the arch-villain Voldemort. Tension was built throughout the novel, but the continued flashes of humour lightened an otherwise very dark mood. And, of course, Stephen Fry's narration remains a joy.

There are also some less successful elements. There's no doubt that the book would have benefited from some more ruthless editing, for while it is tighter than numbers four and five, Rowling still shows a tendency to ramble. Her predilection for big reveal scenes remains tedious. Sure, the plot details need to emerge. But the long discussions between characters telling each other what they've been up to which book-end the most dramatic event in the novel rob that event of some its power.

I thought that I'd have a break and listen to another audiobook between this book and number seven, as I've done with each of the earlier books. But this time I can't. It's straight to the finale for me.