Harry Potter: The Creature Vault by Jody Revenson

Harry Potter: The Creature VaultA review by Nalini Haynes

The picture (left) of Harry Potter: The Creature Vault doesn’t do it justice. It’s two-toned purple with 3D embossing to emphasize the creatures depicted and gold-embossed highlights and lettering.

A coffee-table book, Harry Potter the Creature Vault isn’t light in weight although the emphasis is on images not words. The focus is on the creatures as they were developed for the movies, even including some artwork depicting scenes that didn’t occur in either the books or the movies.

Simple chapter headings like ‘Sky Dwellers’, ‘Shape-shifters’ and ‘Companions’ group together a range of real, animatronic and CGI creatures for further study. Some creatures, like Crookshanks (Hermione’s cat), only have one page while Hedwig (Harry Potter’s owl) has the more common double-page spread. Many imaginary creatures, like Fawkes (Dumbledore’s phoenix) have multiple spreads while dragon breeds take up many pages, some with double-page spreads and others with more, so much drool-worthy more.

The artwork ranges from pencil or pen-and-ink sketches to inked graphic novel–type pictures to photos of maquettes (real 3D models used as a basis for CGI) and even photos from the movies.

Although the text is kept to a minimum, it is loaded with information like who the animal actors were (if they were real), what makeup they wore and a few fast facts about caring for their well-being.

When created, the minimalist text focuses on what was done and maybe a little of why. For example, centaurs were more beast than man and the lake dwellers were more aquatic.

The introduction mentions that they actually built a fire-breathing dragon for the movies because Nick Dudman, creature effects supervisor and special makeup effects artist, wanted to build a fire-breathing dragon. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that such care is taken to exhibit the dragons in all their glory for this book.

Harry Potter: The Creature Vault is a must-have for Harry Potter fans and collectors of movie or pop-culture art. I’m sure this book will inspire future fantasy art and considerable fan-art; place it in the hands of the next generation of artists and movie-makers and see what happens. 

ISBN: 9781783296019
Format: Hardback, 208 pages
Publisher: Titan Publishing Group (review copy provided by New South Books)
Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5