*I'd like to preface by saying this review is less of a review and more of a rave/discussion of my experience reading the illustrated edition. That is all.
As many of you probably know, I'm a huge Harry Potter fan (because, honestly, who isn't?!)! So, it was a pretty big no-brainer for me that when I came into some money over Christmas I HAD to buy the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Then, it was another no-brainer that it had to be the first book I re-read and reviewed in 2016! I decided as soon as I purchased the book I wasn't going to look at it until I was ready to read it. (No spoilers!) I wanted to experience the illustrations in order and with the story. Honestly, this was nearly impossible. I caught myself picking up the book to rifle through the pages countless times, so I finally broke down and started reading it the night I bought it, leaving another book I was working on half finished (oops). Anyway, I was immediately met with gorgeous watercolor paintings that I actually looked up on Amazon to see if I could purchase and hang on my wall!
There were many illustrations that spanned two pages, some that wove around the text, and others that were simple illustrations in the corners of the pages. It was very easy to see how much fun Jim Kay had with the task of illustrating this book. He remained true to the whimsical nature of the characters and the story line, but definitely injected his own imagination into the drawings.
One of my biggest concerns when purchasing this book was that it was going to feel just like the movies, because, really, when stepping into a franchise as large as Harry Potter, it would be very easy to stick to the images readers are familiar with. However, Jim Kay did not do that. Sure, he didn't give Harry blonde hair or make Snape a hunk, but he tweaked the characters and settings in noticeable and interesting ways, which was a real palette cleanser for this reader. Don't get me wrong, I love the covers of the original books, all of the movies, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, BUT it was also really nice to see this world that is so fully fleshed out in a new light. Just when I thought Hogwarts couldn't surprise me anymore, it did, and it was really refreshing.
Another fun addition were the drawings at the beginning of every chapter. The chapter titles along with the illustrations provided a teaser for the next chapter that made it almost impossible to put the book down (even though I was re-reading and knew what was going to happen)!
However, the chapter illustrations are also where some of my only real critiques come in. Several of the chapter headings were downright dull. I'd turn the page, excited to see what the next illustration would be, and find myself less than impressed. For instance, what does this dentist office worthy landscape have to do with Nicolas Flamel?
How are these moths the best thing he could come up with for The Forbidden Forest? It's a spooky forest filled with all kinds of horrible creatures and deadly dangers. Somehow, moths aren't the first things that come to mind.
Last, and definitely worst, how are these wispy smoke tendrils representative of the evil duo that is Voldemort and Quirrell?! I mean.....sheesh. I LOVED so many of Jim Kay's illustrations, but this one should never have made the final cut.
Now that my small rant is over, this book was amazing! I absolutely feel it was worth the money I spent on it. The pages are really nice and thick (which isn't something I normally pay attention to, but when you spend $40 on a book you find yourself paying attention to the small details) and the vast majority of the illustrations were gorgeous and felt like a natural extension of the story.
In this girl's opinion, Jim Kay made the Wizarding World that much more magical, and I plan to buy every single one of the books in illustrated editions.