Ink Black Heart: Parallel Series Idea Share Your Half-Blood Prince Parallels

The Parallel Series Idea (PSI) holds that Rowling-Galbraith is writing her Cormoran Strike novels so that they include deliberate echoes of themes, topics, and plot points with their equivalent number in the Harry Potter series. For discussion of those parallels between the books, see the HogwartsProfessor PSI Pillar Post for a collection of links. 

If PSI holds for Ink Black Heart, we should find a host of common points between Strike6 and the sixth Harry Potter novel, Half-Blood Prince. Please share your discoveries in the comment thread below!


  1. My favorites were parallels with Ron and Hermione’s story arc in HBP.
    * Madeline = Lavender Brown
    * Strike being attacked by the cockatoo is very similar to Ron being attacked by a swarm of birds
    * Pez Pierce – Cormac McClaggan

  2. Trying to figure out someones identity while looking at their scribbles (in Harry’s textbook VS twitter) with a reveal combined with death.

    The sword? It is a very bloody book and so is half blood prince (reference in the title, Malfoy being slit open, Dumbledore making the blood offer).

    Secondly, Harry’s wish to keep his friends out of harm way and his feelings after the battle ar Hogwarts and Cromoran after the bomb concerning Pat.

    The creepiness of teenagers, first it looks in innocwnt but then you dive deeper and it is horrible (eg the sectumsempra spell but also Tom Riddle as a teenager).

  3. Half Blood Prince = Anomie
    They are certainly not equals in matters of vileness but the identity of both were central plot points for both books.

  4. **Big-time spoiler warning**

    The antagonist turns out to be a brilliant, lonely and unattractive teen boy, son of an unpleasant (to say the least) father, who is significantly “impaired” in a way in which his son isn’t (Snape Sr. being a muggle and Upcott Sr.’s ME), likely a lifelong virgin (sorry Sev) who, while sinking ever deeper into a dark cult with fascistic overtones which gives him social status, feels jilted by a young woman whom he considered a friend and inspiration, which ends up causing the murder of the young woman. In a way, Gus = Snape + Voldemort, or Snape – heart.

    I bet if Snape had a Twitter account he’d spout out mugglephobic hate speech and have all his little Slytherins helping him publicly bash poor Eloise Midgen or Neville and dox Anthony Goldstein.

  5. The hidden author “improving” an existing text – Half Blood Prince’s annotations on the Potions textbook and Anomie with Drek’s Game.

    The protagonist watching their love interest’s involvement with others and disliking it … Harry’s jealousy over Dean Thomas and Strike’s jealousy over the recordings, Wolfgang (!), Axeman and finally the date that Robin does accept. Both Strike and Harry have what they think are good reasons for not giving in to their romantic feelings, but by the end of the book have realised that they were wrong.

  6. In HPB, huge blond Death Eater Rowle is introduced and sets fire to Hagrid’s hut; in IBH, huge blond racist father and son Nils and Bram are introduced, and Bram seems to be the culprit behind the arson (though I don’t think the narrative fully confirms this).

  7. Evan Willis says

    Reading as fast as I can, only to chapter 33 of part 2. These observations fit under Parallel Series/Alchemical Hermes Hunting, but as the reasoning has more to do with parallel series, I’ll post this here. If other people have commented as much, I apologize; I’m being careful with which comments I read to avoid any spoilers. Spoilers through ch. 33 (or farther if I’m correct).

    HP book 6 was scaffolded by the three questions Snape asked Harry in the first potions lesson in book 1. His first question about the bezoar was reflected in and around Harry’s use of it when Malfoy’s attempt at poisoning Dumbledore through the wine to be given him by Slughorn was misdirected towards Ron. His second question about the Draft of Living Death was paralleled in the making of that same potion as the means by which Harry got the Felix Felicis that would become needed. His third question about Monkshood/Wolfsbane was paralleled in Malfoy attempting to gain Slughorn’s help by mentioning a relative who had created the Wolfsbane potion.

    It has been a running theory of mine that Rowling has been using a major Hermetic figure as indicator in the chapter in which the main villain of that particular Strike book makes a first or significant appearance. So far it has been true (Freddy Mercury in 1 in first chapter Bristow shows up, Anubis in 2, Atlas in 3, Raphael in 4, Pierrot as opposite Harlequin in 5). Book 5 was the first to really include Hermetic figures as red herrings as well, including the series first mention of Hermes himself, but the pattern holds of at least one true reference.

    If Parallel Series theory holds true, we should expect 1. Two people who ultimately commit the crime, one young and in some kind of trouble, and one older who helps him. 2. That a symbolic callback to book 1 should be in some way central to pointing to central figures. 3. That somebody should have correctly guessed and known the younger of the two by early in the novel. HBP asked more how was it done, not as much was it done by.

    In chapter 32, we see the only reference thus far to Odin, the Norse mythological equivalent of Hermes. The central suspect included in this chapter is Cardew, who I am calling as my current guess for Snape-parallel. That his original voice for Drek was based on a high pitched sinister voice of a former teacher also points in Snape’s direction.

    In chapter 33, we see Freddy Mercury referenced three times throughout the chapter, in the only time he has been mentioned (as far as I can tell) since his statue portended the role of Bristow in book 1. A theory is presented here that Bram is Anomie. If my reading of the series parallels is correct, we are looking for a young vulnerable character for Malfoy’s role; Bram fits. Further, we should expect that the young member of the two to be surrounded by Book 1 symbolism, for which Freddy Mercury is ideal. Alternately, Upton’s family makes first appearance in this chapter, upon whom suspicion should be cast for their Mercurial associations.

    So, my guess at around a third of the way through: Bram as Anomie, but Cardew killed Ledwell when Bram couldn’t for some reason.

  8. Evan Willis says

    The fairy tale about the giant with the stone heart that served as the inspiration for Hearty, and the reasoning for how Hearty survived, directly parallel Horcruxes (introduced in HBP), while also seeming to reference “The Wizard with the Hairy Heart” from Beadle. Here, the Heart has survived and stayed pure as it was cut out of the rest of the soul which was evil. A paradoxical good Horcrux. (Again, given the Horcrux/B6 connection I figure this goes here, but might also have gone well in the Heart discussion page).

  9. It’s a small thing, but the tattoos/runes of The Halvening remind me of the mark of the Death Eaters. There’s a need to externally show allegiance . The mark is not confined to HBP, but it shows up a lot there especially concerning Draco and with calling Lord V.

  10. Louise Freeman says

    1) Deaths of beloved pets (Aragog, Wolfgang).

    2) Villain forces “friends” to impersonate someone of the opposite gender (Anomie forces Yasmin to impersonate him, Malfoy makes Crabbe and Goyle Polyjuice into little girls).

    3) Person steals and tries to fence heirlooms but is caught. (Mundungus steals Black family heirlooms and tries to sell in Hogs Head; Fiingers and mom steal from stepdad).

  11. Louise Freeman says

    I’m going to count one of my predictions as correct: the “less of a twist” in that the killer really did turn out to be Anomie.

  12. I’m going to suggest that Flavia, which is Latin for ‘blonde,’ is a Luna Lovegood-esque character, super-lunary and speaking in crossword puzzle clues. That may very well be a better 5-6 Flip association to Phoenix than a link to Half-Blood Prince, but Luna does more than just show up in Potter6.

  13. time traveling undertaker says

    Nils and Bram de Jong = Marvolo and Morfin Gaunt?

  14. Louise Freeman says

    I do see some similarities between the final confrontation with Gus and Harry and DD’s sea cave visit. While I was expecting some sort of literal underground adventure, (maybe in one of those abandoned stations at Highgate). The dark house was a good substitute. Strike’s priority was protecting Robin; if he could have given her the “if I tell you to run, run” speech he would have. Difference is, Robin, as his equal partner, would have told him to go to hell. Strike was physically impaired with his leg, just like DD was weakened by the potion (and the withered arm). She is supporting him and staunching his bleeding, just as Harry was supporting DD at the end of their adventure.

  15. Louise, thank you for this post on random comments !

    Not sure if this is the right place to put it but, I just realized from reading your comment comparing Strike to Uncle Vernon, that Robin’s new apartment is an echo of the independence that Harry has in Half-Blood prince after inheriting Number 12.

    One of the first things that happens Dumbledore requests that Harry allow it to continue to serve as the meeting place for the OOTP. It is a haven in London for all the people that were so important to Harry’s survival at the end of OOTP.

    I think this has echoes of Robin’s flat serving no serving as the de-facto haven for Strike in the future.

  16. -Strike remembering Robin’s first day and her “conjuring trick” producing coffee for a client was like Dumbledore conjuring glasses of mead at the Dursley’s house.
    -Fathers Inigo and Jago abusing their daughters like Marvolo abused Merope.
    -Voldemort asking Dumbledore for a job reminded me of Anomie offering Robin a Moderator job because a job was talked about and neither of them panned out.
    -Ilsa suggesting Robin accept that date with Ryan reminded me of Hermione suggesting Ginny go out with other guys.
    -Robin feeling inexperienced and getting more experience with Pez is like Ron feeling the same way and getting the same kind of experience with Lavender.
    – The sock puppet accounts seem to parallel horcruxes, especially when both are designed to bully and torture perceived enemies.

  17. Brilliant connections, Sandy!

  18. Wow John, that means a lot coming from you! Thank you. Here’s a couple more:
    -Robin listening to a line from Wherever You Will Go, “Run away with my heart” reminded me of Celestina singing “Oh my poor heart, where has it gone?”
    -Strike having a theory that Edie’s and Josh’s phones were taken as trophies is like Dumbledore telling Harry that Riddle liked collecting trophies from his victims of torture and murder.

  19. I agree, Sandy – some really great parallels here! I felt just the same as you about the Ilsa/Hermione parallel (which I wrote up for the Rowling Library magazine below) – that one really jumped out at me when reading, though I hadn’t thought of the Pez/Lavender one, which I also like! But your bullseye spot, I think, is the sock puppet accounts/horcruxes link. I was wondering where the irl horcruxes were, and I think you found them!

  20. Elizabeth S. says

    Here are a few things I noticed that are similar between HBP and IBH:
    1. Both villains kill their birth father
    2. Ron/Lavender — Cormoran/Madeline (seem to be reactionary relationships to avoid the truthful feelings for Hermione/Robin)
    3. Hermione/Cormac McLaggen – Robin/Pez (both make Ron/Cormoran jealous)
    4. Trying to figure out an identity: HBP=The Half Blood Prince and IBH=Anomie
    5. Trying to figure out the gender of the mystery person
    6. This may be a stretch but sacrificial death/near death of major male character (s): Dumbledore (death)/ Cormoran (near deaths)
    7. Book w/in a book – HBP (The Potion’s Book) / IBH – a “book” IBH Cartoon/Game/Chat Rooms
    8. HBP-The Unbreakable Vow / IBH-Rule 14
    9. Voldemort and Anomie are similar – can tell when being lied to, “know all”, rule by fear, their followers both fear and admire them, kill people “unloyal”, cultured, lousy-abusive fathers, incapable of love, unsuccessful with women
    10. HBP=Inferi / IBH=the “undead” in the game/graveyard
    11. Love and relationships drive the storyline
    12. HBP – whole wizarding community under threat because of The Dark Lord / IBH the whole fandom is under threat because of IBH
    13. People are not who you think they are: HBP-Snape / IBH – Paperwhite

  21. Just rereading the end and found more:
    -Robin trying “to repress laughter, a slightly hysterical reflex she’d had to fight over the last few days” is like Harry at Dumbledore’s funeral having “a wonderful momentary urge to laugh” and a few seconds later having “to suppress a grin” while wondering what’s wrong with himself.
    -Strike remembering Robin throwing that “marble thing” out the window, rousing neighbors to help reminded me of the flames that turned into a marble tomb (huge alchemical moment!) around Dumbledore’s body which caused people to scream.
    -Nutley trying to come back and Barklay putting a stop to it (with his colorful Scottish brogue) reminded me of Scrimgeour pestering Harry again and Harry putting him off with Dumbledore’s words.
    -Strike asking Robin if she had plans for the evening reminded me of Hermione asking Harry “ but then what will you do?” And Hermione saying “there was time to turn back if we wanted to. We’ve had time, haven’t we?” was like Strike “experiencing a clarification of his feelings…The thing he’d been trying for years not to look at, and not to name, had stepped out of the dark corner where he’d attempted to keep it, and Strike knew there was no longer any way of denying its existence.”

  22. Beatrice, oh my heart, thank you! I just finished reading your article (LOVE the title!) and…
    -the runes!!! You’re amazing!
    -the opal necklace, beautiful catch!
    -I also thought the chat room was like Riddle’s diary but since that was a Chamber parallel and there wasn’t a pillar post for that, I didn’t mention it.
    Honestly I’m in awe of you all here at Hogwart’s Professor and put off commenting anything, until I didn’t lol. When the sock puppet account/horcrux parallel hit me between the eyes like Strike’s elbow, I had to stop being shy. Wink, wink

  23. Thank you very much Sandy – really delighted you enjoyed it!
    And delighted, too, that you’ve joined the discussion here and shared with us your brilliant ideas.

  24. Beatrice Groves — your article is fantastic! I loved reading it.

    I am re-listening to HBP and thought of a few more possible parallels:
    1. Dark Mark: HBP the Death Eaters have been branded on their left fore-arms. In IBH the alt-right group has tattoos/marks on them showing what group they belong to.
    2. HBP – Slug Club w/ Professor Slughorn collecting students = IBH – North Grove Community w/Nils collecting various artists
    3. HBP – Pensive diving into the past through memories = IBH – Old Twitter, and You Tube posts are used by Robin and Strike to dive into the internet’s pensive to dig through the past

  25. Elizabeth I love the pensieve/Twitter/You Tube parallel!

  26. Sandy — Thanks! I loved reading all of yours too as well as everyone who has posted.

  27. Thanks very much Elizabeth – and love your ideas too!

  28. I picked up on a few that are HP references rather than necessarily HBP ones:

    The cemetery setting of the game akin to the graveyard, with the incorporeal hooded figure appearing and being greeted by sycophantic followers.

    Oliver Peach assuming an evil identity by using an anagram of his name that starts with a V, and his brother Charlie using an alias, LordDrek, which is only a short step from the Dark Lord.

  29. Spend lots of time trying to catch Draco entering the Room of Requirement and trying to get in to find out what he’s doing – Spend lots of time monitoring Drek’s game waiting for Anomie to enter and trying to get access to the game’s inner sanctum (moderators) to find out what’s going on

    Harry and Strike dealing with consequences of fame; Harry is the recipient of girls’ attention and love potions after being outed in the press as the Chosen One – Strike wonders if Madeline’s interest is based on his fame

    The Slug Club = the clubs Madeline takes Strike to, to see, be seen, and get a picture taken; there’s a feeling they are both where the cool kids go (even if they don’t think of themselves that way)

    Mcclaggen = Nutley; both messed with the functioning of their team, egotistical, weren’t liked very much

    The quidditch team and the agency have personnel problems, one being the captain/agency head make decisions that take them out of the game which puts pressure on the rest of the team. Harry was given detention which kept him out of the game. Strike pushed himself physically until he couldn’t do the job. They weren’t there when needed. Ginny and Robin deserve much of the credit for winning games/advancing the case and keeping the team together

  30. Louise Freeman says

    I really like these, Karol.

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