Best Harry Potter Books, Ranked

Find out when Harry peaked during his seven years in the Wizarding World.

by Kenneth Araullo
Image: Scholastic

The recent release and critical success of Hogwarts Legacy have put into focus the Harry Potter books and which of them are the best when ranked against each other. While all the books are great, some are more exceptional than others, and even fewer stand out among the rest when it comes to detailing the adventures of the Boy Who Lived.

The ‘Harry Potter’ Books, Ranked From Worst to Best

Below is a simple outline of the rankings of Harry Potter books, from worst to best:

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

It’s important to note that this ranking is purely subjective and may not reflect the opinions of other Harry Potter fans. That said, let’s dive in to see how the Harry Potter books rank against each other, from worst to best.

7. ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’

Image: Scholastic

Series order: 2nd

Year published: 1998

Author J.K. Rowling professed that she found it difficult to finish Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the sequel to her highly successful debut work, and it definitely shows. While Chamber of Secrets is still an amazing novel, especially for older children, it suffers a lot from contrived and convenient plot devices to move the story forward. While Fawkes’ response to Harry in the Chamber was a landmark moment in the whole series, it also felt a lot like deus ex machina at work. It also follows a lot of the story beats from the first book, Philosopher’s Stone, which makes it derivative to some extent, especially for those who have read all seven books in the series.

6. ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’

Image: Scholastic

Series order: 1st

Year published: 1997

While it garnered considerable critical acclaim when it was first released, a retrospective of the entire series shows that Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is near the bottom when compared to more recent entries. Philosopher’s Stone suffers from a relatively weaker ending compared to the first two-thirds of the novel, in addition to a rather flat villain in the Voldemort-possessed Quirrell. That said, Philosopher’s Stone is still a great book that does a very good job of presenting the magical world of Hogwarts to its readers.

5. ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’

Image: Scholastic

Related: How to Watch the Harry Potter Movies in Order

Series order: 6th

Year published: 2005

The penultimate entry features a marked departure, as Half-Blood Prince has a more adult tone compared to its predecessors. The novel is still a remarkable achievement for Rowling as a whole, as it managed to present a compelling appetizer to what would be the series’ incredible conclusion in Deathly Hallows. Harry being a lot more involved in relationships outside of his usual trio was a welcome change as well. We also got to read some refreshing new takes on older characters, such as Hermione expressing jealousy at Harry’s undeserved talent in Potions, and Ron’s popular phase as he finds himself in the middle of a love triangle. It was also satisfying to read Harry’s vindication after a grueling fifth year in the Order of the Phoenix.

4. ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’

Image: Scholastic

Series order: 5th

Year published: 2003

The start of the fifth book in the series sees Harry at his lowest following the trauma he received at the end of the fourth book, Goblet of Fire. The rest of the novel does not get better for him, either, and as a result, what readers get is a brooding, angsty, and noticeably more adult Harry, one who is starting to feel the weight of his apparent connection to Voldemort. This darker nature of Order of the Phoenix managed to play to its strengths well, and as a result, it has arguably the strongest ending out of all the Harry Potter books. Rowling also gave readers a peek at the more mystical, unexplainable side of magic as Harry and his friends ventured into the Department of Mysteries, a location that is one of the most memorable across the entire series.

3. ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’

Image: Scholastic

Series order: 7th

Year published: 2007

The final book in the series, Deathly Hallows presents a very satisfying conclusion to Harry Potter and his lifelong conflict with Lord Voldemort. In more ways than one, Deathly Hallows plays out very differently from the earlier books because of Harry’s choice to leave Hogwarts early with Ron and Hermione to hunt down Voldemort’s Horcruxes. Indeed, it featured Rowling’s writing in a new element altogether, with the trio facing the difficulties of a harsh journey with very little direction and the many dangers that come with it. As a result, Deathly Hallows provides a very meaningful farewell to a lot of characters within the book and ends the Harry Potter story on a high note, with Harry and his friends all grown up and seeing off their children into a brighter tomorrow.

2. ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’

Image: Scholastic

Series order: 4th

Year published: 2000

While earlier entries focused on the whimsical and pure, and the later ones on the diabolic and dark, Goblet of Fire manages to balance both light and serious aspects to produce one of the finest books in the Harry Potter series. Set against the backdrop of mythical events within the Wizarding World – the Quidditch World Cup and the Triwizard Tournament – Goblet of Fire sees Harry at a huge turning point in his life. The novel does a very good job of setting up the events that lead to that explosive finale, and by the end of it, everyone realized that things would never be the same. On the flipside, it also presented Harry in the awkward phase that all teens must go through: school dances, crushes, arguments with friends, and the occasional entanglement with a Hungarian Horntail dragon.

1. ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’

Image: Scholastic

Series order: 3rd

Year published: 1999

In an ironic twist, the Harry Potter novel that doesn’t feature Voldemort ended up being the best of them all. Prisoner of Azkaban sees Harry, Ron, and Hermione in their third year at Hogwarts, balancing their classes with a growing danger on the horizon. Sirius Black, initially presented as a malevolent being deeply loyal to Voldemort, ends up becoming one of the central characters in the later novels as Harry finds in him something he has longed for all his life: family. Rowling is at her very best here, managing to present an integral year in Harry’s life that will shape him for the rest of the series. As an added bonus, its film adaptation is also considered by most fans to be the best across the entire film series.

- This article was updated on February 15th, 2023