Despite being an incredibly British series, the Harry Potter franchise became a global phenomenon that is loved the whole world over. The concepts of family, friendship and good triumphing over evil are universal enough, that being contained within a British private boarding school is not enough to alienate the international audiences. It is telling that “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” amusement parks have locations in Florida, California, and Osaka, but not in London. The actual country where Harry Potter is set doesn’t have a Wizarding World to call its own.
Even before the Harry Potter movies existed, the book series had already been printed in many different languages. Once the films became successful, this number increased exponentially. As of now, Harry Potter has been translated into over 68 different languages.
Many of the countries that Harry Potter has been published in have chosen to use homegrown artists for the cover art. The results of these are often… bizarre. We are here today to look at the strangest covers of Harry Potter books from around the globe. From the Chess battle against the Rat King to the Dumbledore Mr. Potato Head.
Here are the 15 Most Bizarre And Disturbing Foreign Harry Potter Book Covers!
15. Harry Potter And The Rat Chess King
The Cover – The Albanian edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
When it comes to foreign covers of Harry Potter novels, they usually show bizarre representations of actual events from the book. The Albanian cover of the first book goes for a different approach. The artist who drew this cover clearly longs for a world where Harry Potter crosses over with the Redwall novels. In this imaginary book, Harry must defeat Matthias the mouse in a game of Chess in order to save his world from destruction. For pieces, they used the kidnapped members of Slender Man’s family.
At no point during Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone does Harry put on a big rat hat and play a game of chess with a giant rodent. Right now, this looks more like a scene from a Furry convention than from Hogwarts. They also appear to be playing on a Chess table (rather than a board). It looks to be some sort of four-player variant of Chess, as the pieces are black, white, purple and indigo.
14. Harry Potter And The Afternoon Snake Fight
The Cover – The Chinese edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Usually, when an artist is given the job of coming up with an illustration that will become the cover of a book, they are given details of a specific scene to draw. This will usually be something exciting or dramatic that will engage a curious customer on the first glance.
The artist for the Chinese version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets wanted to go all in. They decided to show several different scenes from the book and portray them as if they all happened at once. According to the Chinese version of the book, Harry sent the Basilisk a letter saying “1v1 me IRL, Quidditch field after school”. After being called out so harshly, the Basilisk shows up for an afternoon rumble on a nice summers day. Harry might have bitten off more than he can chew, as he only has his sword and Boromir’s horn from Fellowship of the Ring to defend himself. Luckily for Harry, the flying car from earlier in the book is coming in for the rescue. All of Dumbledore’s talk about “choices” at the end of the book was meaningless. All Harry needed to save the day was for a flying Ford Anglia to tag in for him. After all, how is the Basilisk gonna petrify a car?
13. Harry Potter And The Shopping Bag Golem
The Cover – The Finnish edition of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
This will be the first of many Finnish covers on this list. It seems the publishing houses of Finland have “traumatising the children of the nation” as their first priority.
On the left side of the page, we have Harry’s clone (most likely the vision of James Potter that he sees in the Pensieve) casting the “You watched the tape from The Ring and seven days have passed” spell on a teenage Snape. This seems to have unfazed the person with the massive nose in the bottom corner (possibly Lily or Sirius), who is looking wistfully at something off-screen.
The right side of the page actually manages to catch Harry’s mood from Order of the Phoenix perfectly. That is the face of a teenager who listens to Linkin Park and Papa Roach records, while he uses white-out to paint the Nine Inch Nails symbol on his school bag.
Dolores Umbridge is one of the greatest Harry Potter characters of all time. She proved that you don’t need to be in service to dark powers in order to be a dick. With that being said, the description of her resemblance to a toad was meant to be an exaggeration. As the Harry Potter movies proved, she isn’t a huge frog monster that just happened to get a job at the Ministry of Magic.
12. Harry Potter And The Huge Spoiler Right There On The Cover
The Cover – The Italian edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
This book is kind of like if the cover of Game of Thrones showed big red letters that say “NED STARK DIES AT THE END”. Way to give away one of the coolest moments of the book.
It seems that the Italians wanted a more artistic flavour for the cover of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. The sad silhouette of Harry stares off into the distance, with the lenses of his glasses being the only thing immune to his ennui. The actual Goblet of Fire seems to be missing a few pieces and looks to be more of a Cereal Bowl of Fire. It also appears to be constructed from screaming faces.
This cover begs a question. What is more damaging to young Harry Potter fans? Having one of the main plot points of the story spoiled on the front cover, or seeing Dumbledore go completely off the rails and almost throw Harry over a table full of alchemical instruments in the film?
11. Harry Potter And The Dragon Lifeguard
The Cover – The Dutch edition of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
The Dutch covers of Harry Potter novels tend to take an in-media-res approach. They like to show the middle of an action scene, with no explanation or context for the events that are being shown. This is certainly the case with their version of Deathly Hallows, as it contains the image of an angry dragon, that is pissed off with the fact that is has just dropped its purse in the water (probably ruining its phone in the process).
Going from the milky white colour of the dragon’s eye, this picture is most likely trying to portray the scene where Harry, Ron and Hermione escape from Gringotts. That was one of the most exciting segments of the book and it was a case where the film did it justice when it was adapted for the screen. There are numerous parts of the escape sequence that would have made for an excellent cover. It boggles the mind as to why they chose a sideways shot of a dragon that looks like it is throwing something into a lake.
10. Harry Potter And The Furry Version Of Cheers
The Cover – The Japanese edition of The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
If there is one thing that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 got right, it was the depiction of “The Tale of the Three Brothers”. Rather than just have close up of Emma Watson’s face for ten minutes, while she explained the legend of the Elder Wand, the creators opted to use an animated sequence that resembled a shadow play performed by puppets. Once the Harry Potter series was finished, J.K. Rowling decided to write the actual story of the three brothers. She created a collection of fairy tales from the wizarding world and released it as The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
This, somehow, led to a picture of a bored looking rabbit hanging out with a group of dogs.
The Japanese cover of The Tales of Beedle the Bard depicts the events of “Babbitty Rabbitty and her Cackling Stump”. Of all of the exciting scenes that could have been shown from this book, we got a rabbit that looks like it is questioning its life choices. The solemn gaze of the dogs looks out towards the audience as if pitying them for their poor choice of purchase. Fortunately, the man with the axe is about to put everyone out of their misery.
9. Harry Potter And The Chess Men: Games Of Future Past
The Cover – The Finnish edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
This was the first of the Finnish covers and their disturbing proportions. Someone saw this and said, “I love it, we will give you money for this picture and put it on the cover of a book that thousands of children will read”.
Finland’s cover of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone can best be broken into two halves, the Chess pieces and the protagonists. The Chess pieces don’t look that bad. They have an Alice in Wonderland feel to them that is in-line with the kind of things you would see at Hogwarts. The Pawns look like they trying to find someone who can sell them more ecstasy. The Bishop looks pumped about his chance to bash someone’s head in with his hammer. The King and Queen have a realistic pallor to their complexion that is probably going to seem disturbing when they start attacking each other in a few turns.
The real stars of this cover are Ron & Hermione. Ron looks a racist drawing of an Irishman that would have been published in an old time newspaper, while Hermione looks like Alfred E. Newman’s hipster girlfriend, who has taken a summer job as a Jester.
8. Bill Gates And The Armies Of Narnia
The Cover – The Danish edition of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
The Battle of Hogwarts is one of the best scenes in the Harry Potter series. Everything was building up to the final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort. Beloved characters became heroes and died like soldiers. It was a perfect ending point for the series (and actually was the last scene, for all of the people who choose to ignore the epilogue and Cursed Child).
One of the best scenes of the Battle of Hogwarts was when the heads of the four houses animated all of the statues in the school, to defend the students from danger. The cover of the Danish edition of Deathly Hallows seems to be showing that scene. The only thing is, Harry Potter appears to have turned into a forty-year-old man, who is leading the charge of monsters instead of doing his actual job of fixing Windows 10.
7. Harry Potter And The Horse That Lives In Your Nightmares
The Cover – The Swedish edition of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
In the early days of YouTube, it was not uncommon to see videos that contained a jump scare. These were brief flashes of a disturbing image (like the girl from The Exorcist) with an added scream sound effect. These videos often had their low audio before the scare, which caused the viewer to turn their sound up. Thankfully, these videos don’t show up very often anymore, due to YouTube’s increased diligence over content. It won’t take long for a jump scare to be taken down.
The artist for the cover of the Swedish edition of Order of the Phoenix decided to use those terrifying faces from the jump scare videos as inspiration. Children all over Sweden had to look at that disturbing Thestral every time they picked up the book. How many nightmares were inspired by those dead eyes, we wonder.
6. Harry Potter And The Person Who Cut Off The Tip Of Gilderoy Lockhart’s Nose
The Cover – The Finnish edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
Back to Finland we go!
One of the most peculiar things about the Finnish editions of Harry Potter is that all of the characters seem to have had the tips of their noses removed. Everybody in the world has a nose with a flat end. This is most apparent on the cover of Chamber of Secrets, as both Harry and Gilderoy Lockhart feature prominently on it.
A chopped nose is the least of Gilderoy Lockhart’s problems, however, as he appears to have been hit with gamma radiation and is transforming teeth first into the Hulk. Lockhart’s large, disingenuous smile is brought up many times in the book. It has never seemed so creepy as it does in Finland.
Lucius Malfoy appears in the top-left corner of the cover and makes his only appearance on this list. The book’s never mentioned the fact that he looked like Ronald Reagan, with Klingon-style ridges on his head (J.K. Rowling must have forgotten to put that detail in).
5. Harry Potter And The Two Cloaks Playing Laser Tag
The Cover – The Dutch edition of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
As mentioned earlier with the Dutch cover of Deathly Hallows, they like having illustrations that technically depict moments from the book, but don’t really convey what the story is about. At least the blind dragon actually appeared in Deathly Hallows. With Half-Blood Prince, it is harder to tell what is going on.
The best we can come up with is that this scene takes place after the death of Dumbledore (spoiler) when the Death Eaters are escaping from Hogwarts. Harry chases them and fires off several spells. This cover shows two heavily robed figures firing lightning bolts at each. This doesn’t happen in the book.
It would be one thing if they wanted to show an exciting battle within Hogwarts, even if it is an exaggeration of the events. Instead, we have a picture that doesn’t properly represent the book it is advertising and makes even less sense to those who understand the context.
4. Harry Potter Watches You Shower And Ron Wants To Smell Your Hair
The Cover – The Ukranian edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, once the Basilisk is defeated, the diary is destroyed and Ginny Weasley is saved, they escape from the Chamber of Secrets with the aid of Fawkes the Phoenix. Due to his strength, Fawkes was able to carry them away from danger.
What the book didn’t say, was that Fawkes carried terrifying dolls of the Harry Potter cast out first.
Everybody on this cover looks monster (except for Fawkes, who technically is a monster). Harry looks like Woody Allen. Ron looks like the child of a Cabbage Patch Kid and Chucky. His dead eyes seem to look out from the page and into your mortal soul. Ginny looks like a victim of Ron’s vampiric seduction (and she looks way too short for her age). At the bottom of the page is Lockhart, who looks the Mad Hatter without his hat. This cover is the stuff of nightmares and our prayers go out to the poor children who were traumatised by it.
3. Harry Potter And The Hobo Disco
The Cover – The Danish edition of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Dumbledore leads Harry to a cave that contains one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes (or so they think). The Horcrux was an amulet that was contained on a small island within a lake. The water was filled with Inferi, which are the Harry Potter equivalent of zombies. While trying to save Dumbledore, Harry disturbs the water of the lake and is set upon by the animated corpses of the dead. The book briefly turns into The Walking Dead, as Harry desperately uses all of the spells in his repertoire to hold back the undead.
The Inferi scene is one of the scariest and most exciting moments in the book and many of the international covers depicted it in some way or another. The Danish version of the book features a cover that is particularly disturbing. The Inferi are depicted more as wights than zombies. They have retained most of their human appearance, except for their pale skin and dead white eyes. The realistic depiction of the dead makes for one of the most unsettling covers in the series.
2. Harry Potter And The Terrible Things That He’s Seen…
The Cover – The French edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
There exists a tabletop RPG based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft. It is known as Call of Cthulhu and the players all create characters that become involved with the mind-bending horrors of the Elder Gods (and their equally insane servents). Each character has a Sanity score that gets affected every time they encounter something supernatural. Seeing a monster and using a magical spell will make you a little crazier each time it happens. The Harry Potter universe seems to be immune to this, as everyone is fine with the horrors of the wizarding world. Oh, there are ghost monsters that can steal your soul with a kiss and the only way to defend against them is an incredibly difficult spell? Who cares! Let’s drink tea and play Quidditch!
The French versions of Harry and Ron are not so mentally sound. You can tell from their dead-eyed expression, that they have seen terrible things. Things are so bad for them, that it appears Ron has turned into Saitama from One-Punch Man in order to deal with the monster that is stalking Hogwarts.
1. Harry Potter And The Picasso Faces
The Cover – The Finnish edition of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
We have arrived in Finland for one last cover, to see what is considered to be an acceptable drawing of a face in some parts of the world.
Dumbledore and Ginny Weasley are two of the most important people in Harry Potter’s life. Albus Dumbledore was his mentor and guardian throughout his time at Hogwarts. Ginny Weasley became the love of Harry’s life and married him once Voldemort was defeated.
According to the Finnish version of Half-Blood Prince, the real reason Dumbledore and Ginny are special is because they actually have tips on the end of their noses!
That isn’t to say they are perfect. Dumbledore’s head looks like what Picasso would make if you gave him a Mr. Potato Head doll. Ginny’s nose is a perfect triangle, with a tip so sharp that it could cut through glass. No wonder Harry needs to wear glasses. If he didn’t Ginny would probably take his eye out every time they kissed.