It's life as usual for Harry at the beginning of the book, which has him spending yet another dreadful summer with his hateful guardians, the Dursleys. (Imagine Dudley Dursley on a diet! Try saying that 3 times fast...) Things pick up when Harry goes to the Quiddich World Cup with the Weasleys. And life at Hogwarts is as interesting (and occasionally dangerous) as always with it's oddball assortment of students and professors. Naturally, there is a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher (my but they do keep going through them, don't they?) Along the way, we will learn about other schools like Hogwarts (it's about time!) And a new villain - or should I say villainess - is introduced. Someone who definately keeps Harry on his toes. All the while Harry and his 2 best friends, Ron and Hermione, become entangled with the mystery of The Goblet of Fire....
With characteristic abandon, Rowling creates familiar busy backdrop for Harry and friends as she pushes him through a series of terrifying encounters, the usual mischief and mayhem, new revelations (and, of course, rousing games of Quidditch)
It's delightful to see how Rowling can stay true to the feel of the previous books, and yet allow Harry and friends to mature (ex: As the kids are officially teenagers now, hormones will kick in for Harry, Ron and Hermione... but they all fall in love with the wrong people! Harry especially has some difficulties in this area.)
Be prepared: this is a darker book than the first 3. Some well known characters die -- one of whom is well liked by readers. The ending of the book is frightening compaired to the previos books but is a necessary evil for Harry as the older he gets, the more he learns about his past. JK Rowling has stated that each new book gets progressively darker so as to tie in with the overall plot.
As always she writes with a deft touch. This deliciously suspenseful novel is every bit as gripping and imaginative as the previous books -- full of unexpected twists and turns. A delight to be savored, especially you are, like me, already awaiting the next one.