If it seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the 20th anniversary of Prisoner of Azkaban that’s because — in ‘Potter’ chronology — it was. The late 90s saw the release of a Harry Potter book each year, culminating in the arrival of Goblet of Fire in July of 2000. A book twice the size of its predecessor, the narrative and time pressures the book placed upon author J.K. Rowling meant Muggles would need to wait a whopping three years for further Hogwarts adventures. Twenty years later and Bloomsbury are commemorating that very significant moment in Wizarding history with the Goblet of Fire house editions.
Like the three preceding anniversary house edition releases (2017, 2018 and 2019 for those playing along), there are eight editions of Goblet of Fire to add to your bookshelf. Each Hogwarts house — Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin and Hufflepuff — is represented by both a hardback and paperback volume. Predictably, the hardback and paperback versions are printed with reversed colour schemes (both on the cover and spine) meaning devout ‘Potter’ collectors are going to want both. Unique to each edition is house-coloured jacket artwork, internal illustration and gorgeous iconography from illustrator Levi Pinfold. It’s Pinfold’s fourth ‘Potter’ assignment in as many years and, in my opinion, his finest yet (more on that later).
As I made my way to the bookstore ahead of today’s release I half expected to need a Granger-style bottomless bag to carry eight house brick sized novels home. My first impression of the new house editions is that they aren’t significantly thicker nor heavier than their ‘Azkaban’ counterparts. A quick look inside confirms as much. Bloomsbury are using thinner paper and smaller type to keep the novel’s physical size down, a technique they employed late last year with the release of the Goblet of Fire illustrated edition. It’s an understandable decision given there will be a total of fifty-six (!) house editions by the anniversary of Deathly Hallows in 2027 (and there’s only so many IKEA bookshelf purchases one can reasonably make).
The Goblet of Fire house editions take their vignette jacket artwork theme from an ‘element’ specific to each house: fire, earth, air and water. Common to each edition is a central flaming Goblet, while the red Gryffindor house edition (fire) is bordered by Sirius Black’s head in the fireplace, a Hungarian Horntail, Harry on his Firebolt and Mad-Eye Moody’s magical eye. The blue Ravenclaw edition (air) and yellow Hufflepuff edition (earth) include the Beauxbatons Carriage, wandmaker Ollivander, Fleur Delacour; and the Triwizard Maze, Cedric Diggory and a Niffler, respectfully. The green Slytherin edition (water) shows Tom Riddle’s headstone, Viktor Krum, the Hogwarts Giant Squid and the Durmstrang Ship. The ‘element’ theme doesn’t feel as married to the source material as some of the earlier covers (let’s face it, there are only so many house tropes one can draw from), but Pinfold’s easter egg illustrations are as stunning (and clever) as ever.
Of course, the major appeal of these house editions are the beautiful internal illustrations and portraits which are again represented in Pinfold’s signature line drawing style. For Goblet of Fire, four new characters are given visual identity: Hogwarts gamekeeper Rubeus Hagrid (Gryffindor), wandmaker Garrick Ollivander (Ravenclaw), Hogwarts heartthrob Cedric Diggory (Hufflepuff) and He Who Must Not Be Named — Lord Voldemort himself (Slytherin). Each portrait is paired with facts and a few famous character quotes which create a nice double-page spread at the back of the book. (As an aside: like Jim Kay’s illustrated edition illustrations, I love the fact that Pinfold’s drawings are largely detached from the classic movie interpretations of these now famous characters.)
A supplementary feature on famous Hogwarts paintings adds extra character to each edition. The Gryffindor edition depicts the pomp and pride of Sir Cadogan, while The Drunk Monks (‘this image … proves irresistible to the Fat Lady and Violet’), former headmaster Phineas Nigellus Black, and The Giggling Pear (‘this innocuous still life protects the door to the Hogwarts kitchens’) are given detailed treatment in the Ravenclaw, Slytherin and Hufflepuff editions. A ten-question Triwizard Tournament trivia quiz is a nice touch at the end of the novel and no doubt a nod to Bloomsbury’s upcoming Triwizard-themed Harry Potter book night.
While it’s easy to look at these house edition releases through a cynical marketing lens, there’s no denying the attention to detail and quality of finish Bloomsbury have achieved is suburb. Levi Pinfold’s illustrations add extra character to J.K. Rowling’s words and the bold embossed house-coloured jacket print (and scarf-inspired sprayed page edges and spine) look amazing on the shelf. If you pledge your allegiance to a single Hogwarts house, the house editions are an affordable and eye-catching addition to any ‘Potter’ bookshelf (and if you’re grabbing ell eight to review for a fan site prepare to be met with an inquisitive ‘whoa, just pick a house already’ stare).
If you’ve found it hard to keep up with the onslaught of anniversary releases, you’ll soon be able to take a well earned breath. Three long years elapsed between the release of Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix, meaning we won’t see another series of house editions until sometime in 2023. For ‘Potter’ fans who have been there since the beginning, that’s plenty of time to double-down on house loyalties (proud Ravenclaw here) and show off a colourful new addition to the bookshelf. And for a new generation of readers there’s never been a better opportunity to discover Harry’s story (in glorious block colour) and pledge your loyalty to one of the four Hogwarts houses (‘not Slytherin’).
The Goblet of Fire house editions are available from January 23 (today) in store and online in both paperback and hardback.