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Deluxe Edition Serenity is published and kindly sent to me to review by Parragon Books. The book is described as a deluxe edition and indeed it is, but this is the only edition published, there is no regular edition. This is one of two titles and the other, Happiness, can be found reviewed by me HERE. The book is 26cm square, the hardback cover is a beautiful dark grey colour with a linen-style texture, the illustration is printed in white and the text on the cover and spine is embossed in turquoise foil. The spine is glue and stitch bound so it’s durable but quite difficult to get the book to open fully and lie flat. The book fastens shut with beautiful pale turquoise ribbons and there is an identical ribbon bookmark which is very handy for marking the page you’re colouring. The pages are all printed single-sided and all of them have a thin border around them meaning none enter the spine and they would be easy enough to remove and frame if you wish. The paper is medium thickness, bright white and smooth, water-based pens shadow occasionally, alcohol markers will bleed so pop a protective sheet behind your work, pencils give even coverage because of the smoothness but it’s difficult to blend or layer with them because there’s no visible tooth. At the back of the book is a pocket containing a colourable poster which opens out to be a square, 4 times the size of the book pages (see photo below). The images themselves are mostly patterns of various types from swirling to geometric, repeating to random, floral to angular and lots more. There is a huge amount of variety within these images however, a huge thing to note is that they are stock images taken from Shutterstock and iStock, this is perfectly legitimate and there are no copyright issues with this at all and a large number of colouring books are created in the same way, sadly this is where the problem is, if you’ve got a large collection of colouring books then some of the images in this book will be repeats; this won’t be the case if you have books illustrated by specific artists but any that don’t have illustrators named are likely to be created from stock images and they often use the same ones so do check out the images below. While this is quite a criticism, it’s only the case if you have lots of similar books, if this is your first book then it’ll be a fabulous introduction to the world of colouring and you won’t find a lot of books that have this amount of variety. My review probably sounds more negative than it should, most of this is disappointment, the production of the book is so good that I expected the image content to match that and in my view it simply doesn’t. Luckily the price of around £10 is very good still and given that it’s a single-sided book this is a really good price but the images don’t live up to the cover image and hardly any are nature-inspired as the cover image suggests.
In terms of mental health, this book offers a lot of variety so it’ll cover good days, bad days and anything in between. The content is very neutral with it being patterns so there’s nothing that might upset your mental health and you also don’t have to use any specific colours or try to make any of it look realistic so the sky really is the limit when it comes to colour choices. The line thickness varies throughout from spindly thin to medium thickness. The intricacy and detail levels also vary hugely from teeny tiny details that you’ll struggle to colour within and probably have to colour over, to larger spaces however none of the images are overly basic or able to be viewed as children’s images therefore you will need pretty good vision and fine motor control to enjoy the majority of the book and very good levels of both to enjoy the most detailed and fine-lined images. You don’t need perfect concentration to be able to enjoy this book as some illustrations consist of lots of component parts which you could colour one or two of on a bad day, or you could colour a whole page on a good day. None of the images will take you ages to colour, especially not in pen so you can get a sense of achievement quite quickly without rushing through the book in a matter of weeks. The poster at the back is a nice added feature and a much larger project, I personally find it a very strange image choice as it doesn’t seem special and isn’t really the sort of image that you’d want to frame or display once finished, but that could just be me, everyone likes different things.
Overall, I have to say that I’m deeply disappointed by this book. The production quality is really high, to the point where I really can’t fault it, but the images chosen are just stock images found in countless colouring books before this so not only will you get repetition from other books in your collection, it’s also not at all inkeeping with the cover or production. It offers good variety for pattern-lovers and will be very useful for pen-lovers who won’t have to worry about bleeding but the book just feels a bit samey and doesn’t really stand out like I expected from the cover.
If you’d like to purchase a copy of this book it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Deluxe Edition Serenity © Parragon Books Ltd 2016
The image below was coloured using Stabilo 68 Fibre-tip Pens.