Book Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Illustrated Edition, Written by JK Rowling, Illustrated by Jim Kay

The title image for the review. It has a photo of the illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban behind a text box.

This illustrated copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third in the series written by JK Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay. These are pretty big books and every page in the standard edition is full colour, unless it’s a sketch style image, with illustrations of the characters and settings of the book. The RRP for these is £30 but they’re available on amazon for under £20

Most people reading this have probably either read the Harry Potter books or seen the movies, so I’m not going to go into too much detail when it comes to reviewing the story of the book. I love the art style that Jim Kay has and already have the first and second books in the Harry Potter series that he has illustrated. These are pretty big books so you get some nice sized illustrations with a lot of detail in there.

One thing I like about these covers is that they fit the tone of the books themselves well, to me anyway. The third book is the first of the darker stories to me and the knight bus is one of those scenes that stands out as new in this book. I like that, if you open the dust cover up, the back has a shadow of a large dog hidden in the dark image so the whole scene is there. As with a lot of books with dustcovers the blurb is included on the inside flap at the front, with information on the author and illustrator on the back paper flap.

A photo of the spine of the book with the dust cover removed. It's a bright purple with the words "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Illustrated by Jim Kay visible on the spine in a copper foil effect.

If you remove the dust cover this book is a bright royal purple, it definitely stands out on the shelves, and the purple from that is also used in the ribbon that hardbacks often have to save your page. The writing on the spine is a rose gold or copper colour, it’s a nice contrast but not the easiest to read for me.

an image of one of the pages of the book. It shows part of an illustration at the bottom of a page of the shadow of a dog in the rain with the text above it in white to contrast on the grey background

All of these illustrated versions are unabridged, so it’s the full story, and this one is slightly thicker than the previous two, like with the original paper and hardbacks. I’m looking forward to seeing how big the later ones get, they’ll be pretty heavy if they end up getting as thick as the originals. The text is easy to read, even on the ones with a slightly more patterned background or a dark background, as the font is a fairly standard size and looks like times new roman. It’s also a really nice quality paper, it has a bit of a sheen to it so it doesn’t mark too easily and would be ok for younger readers to turn the pages if you’re wanting to read them the story or just look at the pretty pictures.

The illustration of Harry and his friends looking at the creatures in the magical creatures store

I like the fact that they’ve included illustration in a way on every page, even if it’s a page where there’s no picture to accompany the story there’s some kind of pattern in the background. I do love the pages of full illustration and it’s fun to see how someone else imagines the characters and places. Some of them do look similar to the movies, things like the Hipogriff where it’s actually a mythical beast and fairly well described, but seeing the magical creatures shop was one of my favourite illustrations in this book. There are also times where it would be impossible, or very hard, to do effects with special effects, and as this is illustrated it can go a bit more over the top, like Aunt Marge.

A photo of a sketch style illustration of Remus Lupin in his office

The story itself for the Prisoner of Azkaban is probably my favourite within the Harry Potter series. It introduces you to one of my favourite characters, Remus Lupin, and it’s one where when you read it back after reading the whole series there are quite a few plot points and new places that become more important to the series. It also introduces the village of Hogsmeade, a wizarding village near Hogwarts, and shows a different aspect to the world that JK Rowling created, like a second Knockturn Alley.

The inside of the dust jacket at the front, it gives the blurb of the book

The Prisoner of Azkaban is set in Harry’s third year at Hogwarts and gets into the action side of the story pretty quickly compared to some others. It does have darker tones in it than the previous two and starts towards the darker storylines in the later books. As with all Harry Potter books there’s plenty of time spent in lessons and with the main group of friends, but this one reveals more of the past with Harry’s parents and their group of friends from school. It also reveals a bit more about Snape and touches on his relationship with Harry’s parents.

The illustrated version next to the original hardback copy published in the UK

I think that, if you’ve seen the movies, this is one that feels very different to me than reading the book. They seemed to add extra comic relief in the movie that wasn’t really needed and I’d recommend reading any version of this book if you like the Harry Potter world, even if you don’t read the others.

I think this is a great gift for a collector of all things Harry Potter, or as a gift for yourself. I like seeing how other people interpret a book and how they imagine the scenes. The illustrated version in particular is one I think would work for fans of most ages, whether they can read it themselves, have it read to them or look at the pictures. Maybe if they’re younger and have read the other Harry Potter books, but at the age where the dementors may scare them then reading it together or abridging it yourself slightly might be the way to go! >

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