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Read our ‘Chamber of Secrets’ illustrated edition review Read our ‘Chamber of Secrets’ illustrated edition review

Front cover

The jacket artwork features the Ford Anglia flying to the Burrow.

Moaning Myrtle

Earlier this month, Bloomsbury and Scholastic published the second of seven planned Harry Potter illustrated editions. Like its predecessor, the Chamber of Secrets illustrated edition again features glorious artwork from illustrator Jim Kay.

It goes without saying, but the illustrated editions really are a work of art: J.K. Rowling’s beautifully typeset words are complemented with glorious chapter illustrations, full-page murals, character portraits, and sketches by Jim Kay.

Says Kay, “the techniques for illustrating Chamber of Secrets were slightly different to book one … I wanted it to have a slightly different feel, a different look”. In particular, the chapter opens are a little different, stylistically, to book one.

The Chamber of Secrets chapter opens feature depictions of everything from objects (Cornelius Fudge’s bowler hat, the cursed hand from Borgin and Burkes, a certain sock, and the Whomping Willow to name a few), as well as scenes like the entrance to the Forbidden Forest and the Chamber of Secrets:

Many of the chapters, particularly those that are thematically darker, are contrasted with black backgrounds, white text, and artwork that bleeds seamlessly into the chapter. It makes for a really immersive reading experience:

Harry at Borgin and Burkes

Harry arrives at Knockturn Alley: the black background, white text, and full page artwork make this a spooky passage to read.

The Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets

The Basilisk skin lies in the Chamber of Secrets.

Many of the book’s key moments are brought to life with illustrations nestled into the text, such as Dobby’s ultimate freedom, Ron’s slug mishap, and a petrified Mrs. Norris the cat. (Aside: what’s going on with Dobby’s lack of pants?)

Important scenes and characters are often drawn in portrait alongside J.K. Rowling’s writing:

Professor Sprout and the Mandrakes

Professor Sprout and the Mandrakes, which are used to cure the petrified.

“I’m really looking forward to painting Aragog in book two. I’m really fond of spiders — there are lots in my studio — so it’s great having reference close to hand!”, says artist Jim Kay.


Spiders everywhere!

In Chamber of Secrets we see magic in its physical form, and Jim Kay tried to visually express that “dynamism”. “I used different material … I used powered dyes, a bit like the powders you use to dye fabrics. I threw them onto wet paper. You get this beautiful explosion of colour.”

Harry enters Tom Riddle's diary

Jim Kay’s depiction of magic in its physical form. He threw dye onto the paper to create this explosion of colour.

The book features many sketches — such as mandrakes, spiders and Cornish Pixies — to complement Jo Rowling’s depictions of these magical creatures:

Cornish Pixies

Cornish Pixies run rampant in Gilderoy Lockhart’s classroom.

The Chamber of Secrets illustrated edition is a must-have for any Harry Potter fan. You can purchase it today from Amazon in the US for $23.99, Amazon in the UK for £15.00, and Dymocks in Australia for $44.99. The next in the series, the Prisoner of Azkaban illustrated edition, will be released next October.

Click here for additional imagery not included in our review.

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