So we’re back at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for a sixth time and the hormones are flying around just as much as the budding young wizards on their broomsticks.

But don’t let all the budding teenage romances fool you – this instalment is the darkest yet with its sinister themes of death and evil triggered by the return of the terrifying Lord Voldemort.

The Death Eaters are wreaking havoc in both the Muggle and wizarding worlds and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was.

Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) enlists Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) in finding a key to unlocking Voldemort’s defences – information known only to the newly returned potions master Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent).

Meanwhile love is in the air as the friendship between Harry and Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) begins to blossom and Hermione (Emma Watson) realises she has feelings for Ron (Rupert Grint) as he becomes the object of affection of Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave).

Only Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) seems immune to such trivial crushes as he sets his sights on leaving a dark stain on the world.

All three principal young actors impress once again in this latest outing of the globally popular Potter franchise.

It is intriguing to see the young wizards growing up, falling in love for the first time and being treated as adults by some of the professors.

Tom Felton gives his best performance to date as Draco who becomes increasingly menacing yet tormented by his status as the dark lord’s apprentice.

Director David Yates perfectly captures the evil forces at work described in J K Rowling’s novel through eerily gothic sets and costumes, spot-on CGI and brilliant casting of fine character actors.

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape and Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange particularly shine as they bring these creepy characters vividly to life.

But all this darkness is tempered with plenty of laughs – primarily in the shape of Lavender’s obsession with Ron and his uncharacteristic behaviour after unwittingly consuming a love potion. And the magical special effects from a wonderfully snowy game of Quidditch to glorious shots of the landscape around Hogwarts are beautifully executed.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince will certainly whet your appetite for the story’s concluding two-parter.