Harry Potter: The Character Vault by Jody Revenson

Harry Potter

My grateful thanks to Lydia Gittings at Titan Books for a copy of ‘Harry Potter: The Character Vault’ by Jody Revenson in exchange for an honest review. It was published on 25th September 2015.

‘Harry Potter:The Character Vault’ is the third in a series of books written by Jody Revenson and published by Titan including ‘Harry Potter: The Creature Vault’ and ‘Harry Potter: Magical Places from the Films’.

The book is divided into nine chapters and moves through the Hogwarts’ students and staff, and other elements like tournaments, celebrations and dark forces. It is a real coffee table delight, so that even the end papers are gorgeous. At the back there is a special pocket containing two posters of portraits: one of The Order of the Phoenix characters and the other the Death Eaters.

I was totally unaware of this series of books associated with the Harry Potter films until I received this sumptuous book. I can see it being absolutely essential for Harry Potter fans. It would also be a fascinating read for those studying media and film as it has extensive details about how the characters were created visually through fabric, colour, hair and makeup. It is interesting to see, for example, how Rupert Grint was dressed so terribly at the yule ball so that there would be greater sympathy for his character Ron Weasley in having to wear out moded clothes. I can’t imagine the Lucius Malfoy that was originally envisaged until his actor, Jason Isaacs, had input to the clothing to become the iconic villain we all know.

There are first person anecdotes from the actors alongside the ‘technical’ details which give a vitality and freshness to the text. I liked the brief quotations form the J K Rowling books too that support the text and illustrations. The illustrations are a triumph, with full colour plates (the one of Voldemort on p.167 is amazing), photographs, line drawings and film stills. I found the separate little Death Eater Masks booklet quite disturbing!

I particularly enjoyed the ‘behind the scenes’ details explaining how choices were made and why some details were different to the characters as they are presented in the JK Rowling books. I had no idea that Daniel Radcliff (Harry Potter himself) couldn’t wear coloured contact lenses to turn his blue eyes green or that Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix) perforated Matthew Lewis’ (Neville Longbottom) ear with her wand. Even though I’ve read all the Harry Potter books twice and seen all the films at least once, there were some characters I’d forgotten like Kingsley Shacklebolt so that reading ‘Harry Potter: The Character Vault’ really brought back those experiences fully.

‘Harry Potter: The Character Vault’ by Jody Revenson is a perfect book for Harry potter fans, although with one proviso. I think the text is too complex for many under 10s who are Harry Potter fans, but it would suit others completely.

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