harry potter exploring hogwarts review

The hallowed halls of Hogwarts are both comfortably familiar and frighteningly strange to even the most hardcore Harry Potter fan. The twisting passageways and towering Gothic turrets seem like they’re forever changing and morphing through the seven years that Harry Potter and his friends spent in Hogwarts. And quite literally, they were.

Insight Edition’s new Harry Potter illustrated guide of Hogwarts reveals some insights into production designer Stuart Craig‘s process, including the tidbit that Craig felt a magical castle “could believably change over time,” giving him license to add new elements to the castle over the years. It’s one of the many fun bits of trivia in Harry Potter: Exploring Hogwarts: An Illustrated Guide. Written by Jody Revenson and illustrated by Studio Muti, Exploring Hogwarts is the latest illustrated guide into the Wizarding World from Insight Editions set to come out this October, following the September release of the diorama-style Harry Potter: Magical Places – A Paper Scene Book. And as a result, it doesn’t break much new ground.

Simply designed with a comic-strip illustration style, Exploring Hogwarts retreads a lot of old ground, taking the reader through a tour of campus and Harry’s seven years at Hogwarts. In between bright illustrations that resemble a cross between Chris Ware and a children’s book, Exploring Hogwarts doles out tiny nuggets of trivia about the production design of the Harry Potter film franchise, often underneath charming flaps that can be lifted off the page. But many of the fun facts are already widely known, such as the rudimentary map that Potter author J.K. Rowling sketched for Stuart back in 1999, or the effects used to make books float.

Still, that’s not to say there isn’t any magic left in visiting Hogwarts once again. The illustrations are charming enough to set Exploring Hogwarts apart from other behind-the-scenes guides, and there are enough new fun facts and trivia to appeal to the oldest Harry Potter fan. Did you know the 500 jars in Slughorn’s Potions classroom contain tufts of hair, ginger roots, baked animal bones, dried herbs, rubber lizard tails, and tiny plastic animals from the London Zoo? Or that the 18 desks in the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom were replaced with bigger versions as the actors grew, but the beds in the dorm rooms were not? Neither did I!

Though Exploring Hogwarts may be simplistic, it is clearly designed for younger Harry Potter fans who are possibly first coming into the series.

While Exploring Hogwarts may be somewhat of a disappointment to longtime Harry Potter fans, Inside Edition’s recently released Harry Potter: Magical Places ­– A Paper Scene Book offers a much better option. Both an illustrated guide and a collection of beautifully designed dioramas, Magical Places is the collector’s item that Potterheads would adore. Dickensian-style renderings of the sets behind-the-scenes sit alongside concept art and blueprints, along with a slew of details about the films that add nuance to the viewing experience. Magical Places is worth it for the multilayered diorama of Diagon Alley, and all its tilted and cramped Victorian shops, alone.

So whether you know a new Harry Potter fan who wants to go Exploring Hogwarts, or an old Potterhead who simply wants to be transported to those Magical Places, Inside Edition’s newest illustrated guides have all the bases covered.

Harry Potter: Exploring Hogwarts: An Illustrated Guide hits bookshelves on October 8, 2019. You can pre-order here. Meanwhile, Harry Potter: Magical Places ­– A Paper Scene Book is available for purchase now.

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