First Harry Potter Review Published Early

07/19/2007 at 08:00 AM EDT

First Harry Potter Review Published Early
J.K. Rowling
MJ Kim/Getty
Muggles, rejoice. As hard copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows leaked out to fans, The New York Times has published the first review of the most eagerly anticipated book of the year.

The newspaper loves the book.

Having secured a copy of the seventh and likely final installment of J.K. Rowling's wildly successful series, which the paper said it purchased in a New York City bookstore on Wednesday, The Times then reviewed the 759-page volume in its news (as supposed to arts) section on Thursday.

The paper's critic, Michiko Kakutani, gives the book a glowing review and especially approves of the "heart-racing, bone-chilling" ending, which she does not reveal.

Comparing Rowling's achievement to that of The Wizard of Oz author L. Frank Baum and Lord of the Rings chronicler J.R.R. Tolkien, the review likens Harry to King Arthur, Spider-Man and Luke Skywalker.

A "monumental, spellbinding epic," says Kakutani, who brushes off "some lumpy passages of exposition and a couple of clumpy detours" in favor of praising "Rowling's astonishingly limber voice."

The review can only help build the anticipation for the book – though some 1,200 fans are said to already have Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in their hot little hands, despite the strict sales embargo until 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

To that end, Rowling's American publisher, Scholastic, Inc., is taking legal action against two distributors, Levy Home Entertainment and DeepDiscount.com, for shipping the book ahead of schedule.

Andrew Moscrip, vice president of Infinity Resources Inc., which owns DeepDiscount.com, told Reuters that the company was investigating the situation.

"Obviously we're taking this matter very seriously," he said. Levy Home Entertainment could not be reached for comment.

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