5 out of out 5 stars | Goodreads
I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
When I saw the email from the Tolkien Shop offering me a copy of this book, I couldn’t believe it. I’ve been a fan of Tolkien’s work from a young age, and have been enviously eyeing up the various special editions of his works as they are released – and I certainly didn’t miss hearing about this one.
I’m not going to review the story of this book, because it’s hard to fairly review something you first read at the age of nine and have been in love with ever since. Instead, I want to talk about the illustrations in this book, how they fit into the story and the general quality of this edition.
To start off, it looks absolutely stunning from the cover alone. A special cloth-bound edition, with gilded lettering and a gorgeous yet simple illustration, the colour scheme instantly appears very ‘hobbit-like’. And then you finally open the book itself, and it is an absolute delight. Many artists have illustrated works of Tolkien, both officially and unofficially, and Jemima Catlin really does his work justice. Her style is a little quirky, like Tolkien’s own writing, not too cartoon-like and not too realistic – making this edition perfect for both older and younger audiences. The larger text size also makes it a perfect edition for reading along with children, or perhaps for slightly older children to have a go at reading themselves.
The illustrations are also perfectly spread out, every couple of pages or so, plus full page inserts for big events like Bilbo and the dwarves stuck up in the trees, or Smaug attacking Laketown. The colour schemes are wonderful, with greys, greens and browns for the Company, and blues and purples appearing as we meet the elves. And then of course, as we meet Smaug, the palette explodes into a gorgeous array of reds, yellows and oranges.
Overall, this book is an absolutely stunning read – not just for the story (which I would give five stars anyway!) but Jemima Catlin’s illustrations which completely and utterly do the words of Tolkien justice, and deserve five stars in themselves. Plus, at this period in time where film-based Hobbit books are coming out left, right and centre, it’s refreshing to see an edition like this. I know that I will treasure this book for years to come, and would definitely recommend it to any Tolkien fan, young or old – and it will make a perfect gift for those hobbit lovers in your life.