Updated: Jan 20, 2019
Thanks to Scholastic for providing a copy of this edition for the purpose of review.
Heading into Harry Potter: The Illustrated Collection, I wasn’t sure to make of these three new renditions of the iconic fantasy-adventure tales. My initial thought when they were announced was one of disgust as it seemed as author J.K. Rowling and publisher Scholastic wanted to milk as much money as possible from the series. But when actually examining it, and taking in the lush and gorgeous illustrations from Jim Kay, I found that this collection was anything but a cheap shot for money. Some of my fears and trepidations heading into the experience held true, but The Illustrated Collection still impresses thanks to Kay’s unique vision and interpretation of the world, visible in every fiery stroke of color on every page. Featuring a bold and creative direction from illustrator Jim Kay, Harry Potter: The Illustrated Collection marks itself as a fantastic gift for any avid Harry Potter fan or fantasy adorer who has yet to experience the magic.
Upon opening all three editions, the sheer quality of the production is tangible from the very beginning. The pages have a lush, almost canvas-like feel as your fingers move blissfully through the thickness. It’s a satisfying touch that truly enhances the experience, justifying in some way the outrageous price tag of $39.99 per book. However, when examining Prisoner of Azkaban closely, the dense weight of the book was off-putting at first. It felt hefty to even open and it was a flaw that had me concerned for the massive size of 2019’s Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – The Illustrated Edition. But what is living and breathing on those pages is even more magical.
The illustrations from Jim Kay is nothing short of breathtaking. Using vibrant colors, especially seen in the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Kay never sticks to conventions, making each new illustration feel like a monumental discovery. His interpretation of the world replicates some of the finest versions of the world, from the film franchise to dazzling fan art, but yet still gives it a fresh and bold flavor.
However, while his interpretation is unquestionably bold and refreshing, it’s hard to avoid the fact that these editions remove part of the creative charm of the franchise. Newcomers to the franchise whose first exposure are the illustrated editions, won’t have the imaginative experience of recreating the sets and events in their head and in their own interpretation. Instead, all they will see is Kay’s interpretation. It makes it a perfect addition to any avid fan’s collection, who has had the imaginative experience of just reading Rowling’s text. But it may not be advisable to any newcomer to the franchise.
Even when there aren’t any works present on the page, his dynamic artistic style is still present. Sometimes the text is colored and fading in order to represent the mood of the current spot in the story. Soft, stylized patterns are seen rambling throughout the entire page in a symmetric and neat fashion.
As a collective whole, Harry Potter: The Illustrated Collection is a dazzling and refreshing interpretation on one of the most iconic franchises of all time. Its hefty weight and puzzling design choices may leave some readers confused and in pause, but it still remains the perfect gift for any fan who would like nothing more than to see an owl holding a letter, embossed with the Hogwarts Crest.
Score: 9.0 out of 10
This beautifully produced boxed set is the perfect introduction to the Harry Potter series, and an impressive gift for new readers and lifelong fans alike. It contains the first three books in the series (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) in large-scale editions, gorgeously illustrated in full color by award-winning artist Jim Kay. These editions are a pleasure to read, with generously sized pages, color on every page, and a ribbon bookmark in each volume. A full-color slipcase featuring red foiled lettering and Kay's brilliant depiction of Diagon Alley completes the package, making this collection a luxurious gift for readers and Harry Potter fans of all ages.
HARRY POTTER: THE ILLUSTRATED COLLECTION is available for purchase now.