BOOK REVIEW: HARRY POTTER: THE CREATURE VAULT / AUTHOR: JODY REVENSON / PUBLISHER: TITAN BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The Harry Potter phenomenon has spawned seemingly endless spin-off media, and the movies have become a huge source of joy and nostalgia for a whole generation. Given that eight movies were produced in total it is unsurprising that there is a vast wealth of information available about the production of the series. Harry Potter: The Creature Vault exploits one single element of this vast project; namely all of the cool monsters that we saw in those features.
Harry Potter: The Creature Vault is a thick tome, designed to look pretty on a coffee table or shelf, and is filled to brim with illustrated plates. The prose that accompanies it is pretty straight forward stuff, serving mostly to explain the creative process behind putting each monster on screen, and also to explain the difference between practical and computer generated effects.
This pleasingly purple tome is pretty comprehensive, covering the monsters that you see in the movie, and we get to see the evolution and logic behind the designs, as well as explanations for each of the character designs. The plates also show us pieces that were cut from the movie, such as the monster designs intended for a scene with garden gnomes that never made it to the filming stage.
The illustrations themselves are a nice mix. Not only do we get really nice line art, we also get some on-set photographs, a few movie stills and various CGI renders. The result is a complete explanation of the movie magic required to bring giants, dementors, werewolves and giant spiders to the silver screen. The section on dragons is also particularly well done, though nothing that a hardcore Harry Potter fan won’t have seen before.
Extras are pretty standard with a book like this and we get two; the Eeylops Owl Emporium catalogue, which is a simple booklet insert with some nice-looking drawings of owls and a removable Harry Potter Bestiary poster, which is pretty, though a tad on the small side. These little add-ons are nice enough but do seem a little pointless, especially as the poster isn’t really the sort that will look good on a wall.
Harry Potter: The Creature Vault is aimed at two markets; those who like big thick books on movie special effects and those who happen to be huge fans of Harry’s world. It’s adequate as a reference source for mythic beasts (there are better), but as an insight into some of the most popular fantasy movies produced, they’re fantastic.