A young kid growing up in an oppressive family situation suddenly learns that he is one of a special class of children with special abilities, who are to be educated in a remote training facility where student life is dominated by an intense game played by teams flying in midair, at which this kid turns out to be exceptionally talented and a natural leader. He trains other kids in unauthorized extra sessions, which enrages his enemies, who attack him with the intention of killing him; but he is protected by his loyal, brilliant friends and gains strength from the love of some of his family members. He is given special guidance by an older man of legendary accomplishments who previously kept the enemy at bay. He goes on to become the crucial figure in a struggle against an unseen enemy who threatens the whole world.
This is Orson Scott Card, describing either the Harry Potter series, or his own novel Ender's Game, which was published fifteen years earlier. Structurally, it's impossible to say which one he is referring to, because structurally they are the same story.
I open with this because this is the level at which I want to briefly analyze Harry Potter: the structural level.
I am convinced that at a structural level, what is going on in Harry Potter isn't witchcraft or magical at all. The "magic" of Harry Potter is purely technological. Two elements of the books and films make this extremely clear.
First, there are the tools used. Wands and broomsticks are traditionally associated with magic users, largely because tree branches and brooms are extremely common materials that anyone can access. But in the Harry Potter world, they're made potent by their uncommon-ness, just like high-level technology in, say, Star Wars. Broomsticks are marketed and mass produced, and you can tell the best ones by their fancy names: The Nimbus 2000, for instance.
Second, there is the way the "magic" is wielded. To watch a magical duel is just like watching Star Wars. They're literally shooting laser beams at each other. And it's just like an old Western. The bad guys shoot when the good guys have their backs turned, and shoot to kill; the good guys just shoot the guns out of the bad guys hands, unless they have no other choice.
What is missing is any magical element. The characters do not draw chalk circles or pentagrams, do not make bargains with Satan, do not commune with the dead or entrap powerful spirits to do their bidding. They're just utilizing the natural world: they're using technology.
And the one exception is, in fact, exceptional. Because there is magic in Harry Potter, the same sort of deep magic we find in Narnia or Middle-Earth. When Harry's parents sacrifice themselves to save his life, a deep magic (wholly unlike what is taught at their silly "wizarding school") takes root in Harry's life. There is power in their love and self-sacrifice, and Voldemort's killing curse rebounds on him. This true magic undergirds the whole storyline of the Harry Potter series, and it is completely in line with the Christian literary tradition. Do you see parallels in the stories of Harry Potter and Ender's Game? Why do you think the magic of Harry Potter is often viewed as less acceptable than the magic of Narnia?