Zemlja Snova (Land of Dreams) – A Review

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Zemlja Snova roughly translates as Land of Dreams or Dreamland, it’s a Croatian book which is notoriously difficult to get hold of and the methods keep changing. Detailed information can be found below the review, above the photos and I’ll keep this updated as best I can, for the most up to date information, please join my dedicated fan group on Facebook where we run international group orders.

This book is one of the best I’ve ever seen. After reviewing over 200 books, there aren’t that many that manage to take my breath away, but this one does, it’s stunning and the illustrations are just incredible! Before requesting it I saw a flick-through of it and was absolutely hooked but once it arrived I was completely blown away so before I combust with compliments for this book, let me tell you about it. The book is just over 25cm square, the same size as the UK bestsellers, paperback, with flexible card covers and two-third French flaps which open out to reveal a white line drawing on a purple background, colourable black line drawings on the flaps themselves, and a partially coloured image from inside the book on the front cover. The spine is glue and string-bound and the binding is fairly tight on arrival meaning that it’s durable and hard-wearing but also a bit tricky to get to the very centre of some of the images. The images are a mixture of single and double-page spreads and are printed double-sided. The paper is bright white and thick with a light texture, it’s perfect for pencils and my Prismacolor Premier pencils went on like a dream but sadly water-based pens do heavily shadow so this is definitely a book best kept for pencils and the illustrations certainly lend themselves well to beautiful blending and shading. The book contains 81 pages of illustrations and they are genuinely incredible! The images are all fantasy-based and include lots of dragons, mermaids, unicorns, fairies, tree-men, and so much more. Over half of the spreads are double-page designs which are either scenes, depicting all manner of things from castles to sea voyages, gnome villages to woodland, dragons to underwater scenes, or paired images that can be coloured separately but are strongly linked with the opposite page (see photos below). I could go on for days describing the imagery, there is just so much to look at, when you first look at each image you start to get a feel for the general theme of the spread whether it be a castle, village or underwater scene, but as you look closer you discover lots of hidden things from gnomes to mermaid tails, working animals or birds’ nests, flowers growing off dragons and even hidden villages. The illustrations are just packed full with details and stories and they will take you ages to colour so this book is certainly good value for money! The ink is very permanent and doesn’t transfer even with very hard pressure from pencils and the paper doesn’t dent or curl either so it’s very good quality. The line print quality is good too with smooth lines throughout and no pixelation to be found! While a few of the spreads do enter the spine, care has been taken in the majority for them to not enter it, or for there to not be much detail there which is ideal for people who can’t bear to break the spine in order to colour the entire page.

In terms of mental health, wowee, I found this book exceptional! It offers so much to look at that it’s the perfect distraction for even the most persistent symptoms and it just draws you in to a magical fantastical world filled with mythical creatures, princes and princesses, castles, fairies and more. The more you look at the images, the more you see and the more you get drawn in and it’s done wonders for my anxiety during what has been a very challenging and anxiety-filled week. This book will be ideal for those of you who love fantasy colouring and also nature because so much of it is animal and scene-based so it’s combined 2 of our favourite things into one incredible book! The line thickness is consistent throughout and is thin with spindly thin details (it’s pretty similar to the linework in Johanna Basford’s books), the illustrations are very detailed and intricate so there are lots of tiny spaces which you can colour within or colour over if you prefer to use them as texture underneath your colour. You will need pretty good vision and fine motor control in order to enjoy this book and you’ll need some good sharp pencils so that you don’t go over the lines too much. I would highly recommend investing in a T’Gaal sharpener so that you can keep your pencils as sharp as possible! There are plenty of natural stopping points so this book is ideal for those with fluctuating conditions or concentration levels as you can colour one flower, all of the bricks or an entire dragon, you can also focus on a single page or go all out on a double-page spread. The pages for the most part are pretty busy and there’s loads to see so it can be a little tricky at times to identify all of the parts and sections so you will need good concentration for that part to ensure that you’re colouring a petal and not a foot accidentally! The content of the illustrations is totally absorbing and this book will look just incredible when it’s finished cover to cover. I adore this book, even just flicking through the pages gets me out of my head and calms my anxiety down and colouring it is just so much fun because you can use any colours you fancy from more natural colours to fantastical colours like blue for tree trunks and oranges or purples for leaves, in a fantasy world the only limit is your imagination and these images will look amazing no matter what colours you choose!

Overall, I can’t recommend this book highly enough, it’s a genuine work of art and while it’s a shame that pens can’t be used without shadowing, these illustrations lend themselves brilliantly to beautifully blended pencils. The artwork would appeal to male and female colourists and is highly fantasy-based with a strong storybook theme and lots of natural imagery. The drawings are incredible and you’ll be hooked once you’ve seen inside! I’ve included lots of images from inside below as usual but this book really has to be seen to be believed so I’ve also recorded a silent video flick-through which can be found HERE.

If you’d like to purchase a copy, it’s currently available to be purchased from the Croatian publisher, Fokus. Shipping from Croatia is very expensive and therefore it’s best to place orders as a group with one person ordering a number of books to their address and then separately shipping them out to others in their country. My Facebook group is the best place to do this as we have the largest community of Zemlja Snova fans in one place and we regularly run group orders to various countries around the world. A Dutch publisher has also acquired the rights and will be publishing copies later in the year (around mid October 2017) with the title Dromenvanger and this is available to pre-order on Book Depository where you can benefit from free worldwide shipping; this appears to be the cheapest option if you can bear to wait that long!
Dutch edition on Book Depository with free worldwide delivery – https://www.bookdepository.com/book/9789045321868/?a_aid=colouringitmom

Fans of Zemlja Snova Facebook Group

The image below was coloured using Prismacolor Premier Coloured Pencils. I tested Stabilo Point 88 Fineliners which heavily shadowed.

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