In the lesson about Harry and Hermione’s arrival in Godric’s Hollow, we saw how J.K. Rowling uses descriptive detail to suggest something simultaneously lovely and sinister.

In that snippet the heroes were on the edge of the town. In this next snippet we find them in the centre of town, hidden under their cloak of invisibility.

Strung all around with coloured lights, there was what looked like a war memorial in the middle, partly obscured by a windblown Christmas tree. There were several shops, a post office, a pub and a little church whose stained-glass windows were glowing jewel bright across the square.

The snow here had become impacted: it was hard and slippery where people had trodden on it all day. Villagers were crisscrossing in front of them, their figures briefly illuminated by street lamps. They heard a snatch of laughter and pop music as the pub door opened and closed; then they heard a carol start up inside the little church.

How does this passage make you feel? Are you comfortable and happy? Or a little uneasy?

Rowling very carefully sets up a scene where our heroes are cut off from the normal world. Even though they’re in the centre of the village, and there are lots of people around, Harry and Hermione are somehow isolated.

In this lesson we’re going to copy the way Rowling uses descriptive detail to make us feel isolated and vulnerable.