Troubled Blood Week Placeholder Post #2: Parallels with Order of the Phoenix. Spoiler Alert.

It is  a truth universally acknowledged, at least on Hogwarts Professor,   that the Cormoran  Strike series is running parallel to Harry Potter:  the many links (see here and here) between Lethal White and Goblet of Fire should be enough to convince any readers more astute than Crabbe and Goyle.  Because of that, we should expect to find parallels between the fifth books of both series.  So, did you see any Dolores Umbridge’s?  Weasley Kings?  Nigredo?  Tell us in the comments!  A full list will be compiled later. 

I’ll admit that nothing jumps out like the patricide of a government minister in the midst of a major sporting event, but here are the ones I saw.

  • The whole story was set into motion by a self-proclaimed fortune teller who went into a trance and made a prediction. Order of the Phoenix was, ultimately, a quest to retrieve Trelawney’s prophecy.  Anna, after 40 years, was inspired to solve the mystery of her mother by an experience with a similar seer.
  • There was also the death of a surrogate parent.  Though I missed in my prediction that either Shanker or Vanessa would die, the loss of Aunt Joan was devastating for Cormoran, and left him with similar feelings of grief and guilt.
  • I thought Pat Chauncey was destined to be the Dolores Umbridge of the book, but that role would up filled by Saul Morris. He came into the agency, clearly full of himself and was horrible to Robin from day 1.  She, however, declined to tell Strike what he was doing, much like Harry refused to report Umbridge’s hand-cutting quill use. Like Umbridge, he winds up getting hurt through his own foolish choice, then unceremoniously sacked.  New prediction:  He, like Umbridge, will turn up again in Book 7, perhaps in the employ of Mitch Patterson, or some other rival.
  • You also see some Umbridge-esque decor in the home of Irene, with her pink, her tacky figurines and her potpourri.  There is even a little of that fussiness in Aunt Joan’s, with her decorative plates and dried flowers. Now, I must go iron my hands or something, in penance for ever comparing the beloved Joan to despicable Delores.
  • The final thing:  lots of vomit.  Seriously, almost every instance of people throwing up in the Harry Potter series happens in Order of the Phoenix—  the only exceptions are Ron burping up slugs in Chamber of Secrets and Reg Cattermole being force-fed Puking Pastilles in Deathly Hallows. You have Dudley throwing up after the dementor attack, Fred and George repeatedly testing the aforementioned Pastilles, then Harry being sick after his dream about the snake attack.  Count the number of people who throw up in Troubled Blood.  It should have been titled, Troubled Stomach. 

I’m sure we’ll find more:  add to comments!



  1. Louise Freeman says

    A few others:
    OotP is where Firenze becomes Divination teacher; he is the one who tries to teach the class how the centaurs read the future in the stars, and scoffs at Muggle Astrology, much as Strike does.
    In the opening chapters, there is a major row between Cormoran and Lucy, for which Cormoran, the one with whom the readers normally sympathize, bears a good portion of the blame. What he said about the nephews really was inexcusable. This is similar to Harry intentionally picking a fight with Dudley at the start of OotP.
    Aunt Joan’s habit of saying what she thinks should be true (“You slept well”) is another Umbridge-like quality. Remember her opening speech? ““And to see such happy little faces looking back at me!” (Off to iron my hands again…. )
    Robin’s visit to the nursing home is like the Trio’s visit to St. Mungo’s long-term care ward.
    Carl Oaken/Brice is the worst sort of journalist, yet his pulped book turns out to have an important clue, the picture of Mucky. This is not unlike the Quibbler, which normally prints nonsense, coming in handy for speaking the truth about Harry in OotP.

  2. Louise Freeman says

    I am officially re-christening dear old Saul as “Demorris Umbridge.” Not only is he horrible to Robin, he sucks up to Strike in the same way Umbridge sucks up to Fudge. Is it coincidence that “Morris” and “Delores” rhyme?

    Another similarity in the nursing home visit. Neville’s parents are in an Alzheimer’s-like state, just like Mucky. And there is danger within the walls: the threat Mucky’s son poses to Robin, the Devil’s Snare seen in St. Mungo’s, which would later kill Bode.

  3. Major spoiler alert!
    Perhaps I’ve gone around the bend, but the parallel I drew was not between Umbridge and Morris, but Umbridge and Janice. Sure, the homicidal nurse is more subtle by far than everyone’s least favourite ministry lackey, but both rely heavily on tropes of femininity to disarm, “charm,” and otherwise get their way. We saw Umbridge’s machinations through the eyes of perceptive students with whom she made no effort to make nice, so there was no big reveal about her evil nature, but clearly her efforts worked at some point in the past or else she wouldn’t have been able to climb the political ladder as successfully as she evidently did. Janice plays up feminine aspects of her appearance despite being a spinster. I don’t believe the word “dumpy” or “squat” is ever applied to her figure as it is to Umbridge’s, but the implication is certainly there. She relies on blue eyes, smiles and silver hair to project her harmless image. More effective, in this case, than kittens, frills and pink cardigans, but I’d argue the tools are comparable. The red decor of Janice’s drawing room also struck me (I was thinking of it as a more intense manifestation of Umbridge’s trademark pink, and of course the blood imagery is hard to escape). Both women slipped substances into drinks to achieve their ends, though Dolores was about as subtle in her attempt as a Saul Morris flirtation. Both demonstrate cruelty to children in their care. I was so persuaded of these parallels,that I readily grant may exist only in my own head, that I was fruitlessly watching for frogs, toads or technicolour cats in Strike’s last exchange with Janice. So maybe I really am wrong. Forgive me if this inaugural venture into Hogwarts Professor-style analysis is way off the mark/short of the high caliber so consistently on display among other contributors! 🙂

  4. Louise Freeman says

    I love your idea and please comment further, on this or other topics.

  5. Both feature a disaster of a Valentine’s day event. The drinks involved were a little stronger this time, however.

  6. A prediction has been made about both Harry (the prophecy) and Cormoran (his astrological birth chart). In both cases, the date of birth is important to the prediction. We learn about it in the 5th fifth book.

    Charlotte’s text messages to Strike reminded me of the visions of the Department of Mysteries Harry was experiencing through his connection with Voldemort. Because of this, I thought for sure Strike was going to be tricked into meeting her towards the end of the book (which didn’t happen). But much like Harry saved Arthur Weasley’s life by alerting the Order to Nagini’s attack, Cormoran ended up saving Charlotte’s life by alerting the hospital to her suicide attempt. At the end of the book, the communication channel between Charlotte/Cormoran and Voldemort/Harry is temporarily closed, with Harry receiving no more visions after Voldemort’s failed possession and Cormoran changing his number (I’m assuming he’ll go through with it). In both cases, it will take more than that for Voldemort and Charlotte to stop interfering with Harry and Cormoran’s lives.

  7. Beatrice Groves says

    Great parallels Storyswept! – another convincing Charlotte/Voldemort link…

  8. When Robin referred to Janice as a “skivvy” (chap. 21, just after the interview) I was sure that the culprit would be the “house-elf” again. More to that, we see her following the orders of a very loud old lady.

  9. The song Strike sings at 808/813, an unofficial anthem of Cornwall, has two names: “Song of the Western Men” and “Trelawny”(!). The connection to Phoenix is great here: the central Prophecy via Cornish Nationalism.
    My favorite performance of the song:

  10. Beatrice Groves says

    Yes, Evan – I too was really pleased to see ‘Song of the Western Men’ turning up! I’d predicted it might after Rowling had name-checked it many years ago as her source for the name Trelawney – pretty much her own pre-Strike Cornish reference:

  11. A couple of words reminded me of Order of the Phoenix. Harry hears about a water skiing budgerigar on the Muggle news and then the Athorns own budgerigars that lead a darker life.

    Dudley makes fun of Harry’s post graveyard nightmares and Harry asks Dudley if he means Harry is afraid of pillows or something. I thought about that when we first heard about Satchwell’s “pillow dream.”

    Cho Chang’s patronus is a swan, in the movies at least. Satchwell has the myth of Zeus as a swan with Leda.

  12. Louise Freeman says

    Anna is 15 when she seeks out her mother’s best friend to fill in missing information. In OotP, Harry, at age 15, seeks out Sirius (and Lupin) to find out missing information about his father, after seeing Snape’s worst memory in the Pensieve. Just as Harry worried that his father might have forced Lily into a relationship with him, young Anna worried that her father might have been responsible for her mom’s disappearance.

  13. At the end of Chapter 23, Robin and Strike head to the cafe for a coffee before meeting Oonagh Kennedy. As they make their way “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” is playing loudly on the speakers at Fortnum & Mason.

    In Chapter 23 of OotP, Sirius is overheard singing “God Rest Ye Merry, Hippogriffs” at the top of his voice, his mood much improved with a house full of guests for the holiday.

  14. Louise Freeman says

    Great catch, Tara!

  15. Louise Freeman says

    Can’t believe it took this long to mention this… In Order of the Phoenix we had Umbridge torture with the hand-cutting quill: pure sadism. We had two sadistic torturers in Trobled Blood: Creed and Mucky Ricci

  16. Kelly Campbell says

    I’m not one to read a lot online about a book after I’ve finished it, so this is the first time I’ve read anything about the parallels between this series and HP. I don’t remember the first 4 CS books well enough to comment, but here are the things I noticed about Troubled Blood that made me Google this topic:
    – the biggest thing was the feel of the book when I was reading it. Strike and Robin were both having such a hard year and they were often distracted and not thinking straight. They both were having a bit of a midlife crisis, doing a lot of thinking about who they’ve been and who they want to be. It gave the book a really murky feeling that even made my own thoughts feel kind of murky as I was reading it. Plus the sheer length of the books really contributes to that, like you’ve actually lived through this hard year too. This really paralleled the feel of OOTP and Harry’s confusing adolescent year
    – there were several times throughout the book where Strike was either a bit of an arsehole or just stupid in the way he was keeping things inside, not sharing his thoughts and troubles, which was really reminiscent of Harry
    – Strike cracks and attacks Oakden when he taunts him about his mother just like Harry attacked Malfoy after he taunts them about Molly Weasley
    – Finally the book ends with a feeling that Strike and Robin have both gotten through the hardest times. Things are looking up and they both are in a better place in terms of their mental health and have experienced some character growth

    Also just a note to say I agree with Michelle above, Janice definitely gave off major Umbridge vibes!

  17. Louise Freeman says


    Very nice insights! I hope you will join more of our discussion of this fascinating topic, even if you have to re-read Strike 1 through 4.

    I just finished listening to OotP on audiobook and was struck even harder with the “angstiness” of the series. If you read some more of John Granger’s posts, he talks about how both OotP and TB serve as the “nigredo” of the series, where crises, confusion, question and acting like an arsehole are generally expected.

  18. As I undertake a reread of TB, I’m struck by the steps both Harry and Strike make towards resolving their long-simmering daddy issues. One of these parallels was noted above, but for me the similarities run still deeper. The journeys in question, granted, start from opposite poles (Harry’s hero-worship of James looks nothing like Strike’s profound antipathy towards Rokeby). But in the fifth books of their respective series, both our protagonists are forced to face facts about their fathers that are directly at odds with their pre-conceived narratives. Harry’s vision of “Snape’s worst memory” casts his father in a horrifying new light, and it’s to Harry’s credit that he accepts those truths immediately even as he searches for extenuating circumstances. Strike’s analysis is less clear-eyed when faced with the notion that old Jonny may not, in fact, be as bad as first thought (I say this as an avowed skeptic of the Rokeby murderer theory floated elsewhere on this site, so plese apply salt liberally if you are a truer believer 🙂 ). A parade of relatives stream into Strike’s life to encourage him to resume contact with his estranged father. The sheer number of people prepared to intervene on Jonny’s behalf, to me at least, suggest the man has more going for him as a parent than Strike has previously been willing to credit. Calls from his relatives are taken up by dearly departed Aunt Joan, who puts her finger on so many of Strike’s hangups and identity struggles to date (Strike discards this advice and insight, as is his wont, but are we really surprised? 🙂 ). Rokeby himself even emerges from the shadows to initiate direct contact. He’s not exactly well-repaid for his efforts, but to me this further speaks to a genuine desire for connection with the son who’s long shunned him. And finally there’s the cancer diagnosis that renders Rokeby both mortal and potentially more relatable in Strike’s eyes, having recently gone through the same experience with Joan. If I had to hazard a guess about one aspect of Ink Black Heart and Strike7, it’s that one of our two favourite detectives will continue to gain perspective on his complex paternal relationship and ultimately arrive at a view of Jonny Rokeby that’s more nuanced and psychologically healthy.
    If killer Rokeby does prove to be correct, I cheerfully accept any and all mocking glee this post may provoke in future. 🙂

  19. Louise Freeman says

    Dear Michelle, thank you for your comment! Learning more about Rokeby is high on the list of predictions for Ink Black Heart. While there are multiple posts on Killer Rokeby, there are also competing theories; please see the Troubled Blood Pillar Post, section 11, for links. You can also find two posts (here and here) speculating that Rokeby will pull a Snape at the end.

  20. Thank you for those links, Louise. I’d somehow missed them during past trawls through the site. This potential Rokeby/Snape parallel is speaking to me! I expect it will be on my mind as I continue my reread…and not just of TB, either. 🙂 I may head further down this speculative road in future.

  21. Louise Freeman says

    In OotP, Molly tells Sirius Black that Harry is as good as a son to her. In TB, Strike tells Joan she was as good as a mother to him.

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