Review: “Harry Potter: The Creature Vault”

Since back in August, when we learned that Harper Collins would be releasing Harry Potter: The Creature Vault, the question we have heard most is,

How is this different from The Creature Shop Compendium book that I already own?

Well, as this reviewer is happy to report, it’s indeed very different. I compare and contrast a few of the main elements below and then offer my opinion was to which is the “must own.”

COVERS

I figured that I should probably start with first impressions, namely the cover. The cover of The Creature Shop Compendium (henceforth TCSC) is very clearly a premium material. It feels like smooth rubber (but is in fact faux leather), is very thick, and has animals and creatures engraved into the dark green motif. Gold leaf lettering on the front cover and spine completes the exquisite design. It’s light for its appearance and contains 127 pages.

The Creature Vault (TCV) has a much more vibrant cover but feels of lesser quality. Seemingly pressboard with a paper covering, the purple and orange play well together and create a fun cover full of movement. The book is heavier than TCSC, and with 79 additional pages, it ought to be.

FOCUS

The thing that really sets the two books apart is the focus of the content. TCV is described as “Harry Potter: The Creature Vault is a fascinating look at how this menagerie was brought to life for the blockbuster Harry Potter film series. Detailed profiles of each creature include rare concept illustrations, behind-the-scenes photography, and filmmaking secrets from the Warner Bros. archive,” and that description holds very true. TCV is geared toward the films and uses concept art, film stills, and quotes directly from the films to deliver its message. TCV also features behind-the-scenes comments and writings.

TCSC is, in my opinion, geared more toward the Harry Potter novels. There is still concept art, yes, but there is much less behind-the-scenes, insider content used. Also, the quotes that are sprinkled throughout TCSC reference the book series, not the film. For this reason, TCSC feels more like a collection of art and less like a “tell-all exposé” on the series.

CONTENT

Since both books are meant to feature creatures and plants from the wizarding world, I will simply point out the difference in numbers between the two. When flipping through the dwarf and giant sections, I noticed that, on average, 5 out of every 14 images were the same between books. That’s good, since who wants the exact same images in each book?

TCV boasts an impressive 9 chapters and features 39 different creatures and plants. TCSC has 5 chapters and features 21 creatures and plants.

CONCLUSION

While some fans might view this as a duplicate book, one not worthy of a place on the shelf, I would say the opposite is true. If you are a fan of the films, and are looking for more details, insider information, and sketches galore, then this is the book for you and – at the rarely cheap price of around $40 – is a must have. I enjoyed reading through both books simultaneously, finding the differences and similarities between the two. They complimented each other quite nicely, actually. I’m proud to say that Harry Potter: The Creature Vault will find a permanent place on my shelf, right next to, what I now consider, its counterpart.

Harry Potter: The Creature Vault is in stores October 28, 2014.