Book Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Interviewer: What's the best reaction you've had to your work?

Jim Kay: I've had a few letters saying they couldn't get their children to read a book, but the illustrated version has finally got them reading. So I couldn't ask for more really. It's such a privilege. If you help one person engage with books, the hours, the solitude is worth it because you've hopefully helped somebody on a life of literary discovery.

It might sometimes seem like a new collector's edition of the Harry Potter series is announced every year, whether it's aimed at kids who have never read the books or the adults who grew up with them. But the two-year wait for the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has resulted in a Harry Potter book truly worth owning for fans both new and old.

Marking the turn from fun boarding school adventure with a magical bent into a battle of good against evil, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is where the darker and more epic fantasy underpinnings of Harry's story begin to show. The length of the story and certain subject matter, including the appearance of the sinister Dark Mark at a Quidditch match before school even begins and the first true death on Hogwarts grounds, make this a book better suited for older children.

But it's not all doom and gloom -- elements both fun and funny remain, with the prospect of the international Triwizard Tournament and the Yule Ball occupying the minds of students this year alongside the usual Hogwarts adventures.

Gorgeously imagined and brought to life by Jim Kay, the illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire holds the complete and unabridged text of the original book. As with the illustrated hardcover editions of the first three books that have already been published, the size of the book works wonderfully with Kay's illustrations. To keep the book compact, in keeping with the width of the other three books in the set, the size of the text has been shrunk a tad although it's still very readable.

Of course, the main feature of this book is its illustrations. Fan-favourite characters and scenes peep out from the pages of this book, from iconic elements such as the splendours of the Yule Ball and the fantastically designed dragons from the Triwizard Tournament challenges, to little details such as house flags, button badges, and the unique faces of the house elves. The full-colour illustrations brilliantly reflect the atmosphere of Rowling's words. Whether it's the warm and cheery surroundings of The Burrow (which stretches out across two pages on account of the size of the Weasley family home) or the eerie green glow of the Dark Mark in a black sky, the illustrations deepen the reading of this book into a wholly new experience that will delight even fans who have memorised the words of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by heart.

Jim Kay is no stranger to books with strong emotional undercurrents. He also illustrated A Monster Calls, the first book to win both the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards for children's fiction and children's illustration respectively in the UK. A magical realism story about grief and monstrousness, Kay's illustrations creep across the page to turn a lean and almost claustrophobic exploration of a child's feelings of anger and powerlessness into a powerfully expressed catharsis.

A similar range of emotion runs through Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, as characters react to events in the book with delight, confusion, humour, and even deep fear. Kay brings his illustration strengths fully to the fore in this book.

Even on pages without full-page spreads, little full-colour spot illustrations wind through the words, such as the iconic 'Potter Stinks' and 'Potter Really Stinks' button badges. While they're initially worth a chuckle, as the story pushes on, they almost seem to be indicative of Harry's state of mind through the trials of the Triwizard Tournament. There are other ways in which the spot illustrations work brilliantly with Rowling's words, but the full impact is best savoured by actually experiencing the text as a whole, with illustrations and text side-by-side.

Highly recommended for all Potter fans, although parents who haven't read the book might want vet the book before handing it on to younger children or those who might not yet be comfortable with the darker themes that the Harry Potter books tread.

The hardcover edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is available now at Woods in the Books, and we have a special giveaway for you! We've got a limited number of special edition tote bags for the book which you can bring home when you buy Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Grab yours before stocks run out!

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