Romantic Country: The Third Tale – A Review

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Romantic Country: The Third Tale is published and kindly sent to me to review by St Martin’s Griffin. I’ve been looking forward to this book being published for such a long time and I was delighted when it arrived just a few days ago and I was able to complete my Romantic Country collection. I think that the second book is my personal favourite, it seems the most cohesive and most exciting in terms of content, however, this third instalment is beautiful too though the story does jump around from us being shown Elena meeting Joset the duck in Chapter 4 to seeing new scenes of shops and places we’ve seen in previous books as well as visiting new islands and areas. The book is illustrated by Eriy, a Japanese artist who creates her work using a toothpick dipped in ink. This whole book took approximately 900 toothpicks and because of the way the lines are created they’re not a uniform thickness and aren’t a stark black colour (more on this later). This series was the series I’ve been hoping would be made, with its childlike charm but with adult levels of intricacy, it’s what I always felt was missing for me in JB’s books, don’t get me wrong, hers are stunningly beautiful, I really love them, but they’re a little too perfect for my imagined perfect series. Eriy’s books are utterly charming, not quite perfect, and truly heart-warming and that’s what makes them so wonderful.

This book is square, the same size as the bestsellers, paperback, with a removable paper dust jacket with partially coloured images from the book on the front and back. The book itself has brown card covers with two line drawings from inside the book and blank covers on the inside. The paper is a lovely rich creamy colour (it’s hard to describe but it’s a little warmer in colour than the paper in Johanna’s first two books but not yellowy and it’s the same as in the previous Romantic Country titles), and it’s thick and doesn’t bleed or shadow with water-based pens when used carefully, it also holds up well to water and doesn’t bleed through with Derwent Inktense pencils. The paper is lightly textured and while you can’t get loads of layers, pencils do lay down well on it and it’s perfectly possible to get some lovely blending and layering. The spine is glue and stitch-bound so it’s durable but a little difficult to get to the centre of each spread, however, spines of this type do ease up with use so do persevere. The images are printed double-sided and borderless and are a mixture of single and double-page spreads so a little of each image is lost into the spine to begin with.

The images themselves are beautiful, charming, and begging to be coloured and are split into the following 5 chapters: 1. Peaceful Days in the North; 2. Peaceful Days in the South; 3. Beautiful Island Scenes; 4. Good Times for Elena and Joset; 5. The Passage of Time in the Secret Forest. The book starts with a single page spread showing a map of the islands of Cocot (the name of the land in which the first two books are set, which was dreamt up in the imagination of Eriy when she was a child), depicting the landmarks introduced in this book. Following this, are two double-page spreads showing mapped scenes of Sarryska Island and Cocot North, and Uisce and Melati Islands and their landmarks which are pictured in more detail later in the book so you can clearly see where they’re situated in relation to each other. Following the maps, the images show beautiful scenes of children posting letters to Santa Claus, vegetable carts, snow-capped castles, farmyard scenes, cutlery and crockery, a library, Island traditional dress, a lamp shop, inside a boat, a picnic, fairies, mermaids, a dragon receiving healthcare, a witch’s hat shop, and so much more. Each image is shown as a thumbnail at the back of the book too with a short description telling you more about each place and life there. At the back of the book are two fully colourable pages with single-sided scenes to cut out and assemble into a 3D shop that Elena and her duck friend Joset, are visiting.

In terms of mental health, I doubt there’s a book (or series) that’s better for it in all honesty! Certainly for mine anyway! The illustrations are so charming and because they have a beautiful childlike quality to them they really have a nostalgic aspect which will remind you of colouring books you used as a child but with so much more detail and intricacy that it’s still very entertaining as an adult. The content is wonderful because it whisks you off to a simpler, happier, gentler place where there is a slower pace of life and mythical creatures live alongside people and even witches are good. The line thickness varies throughout because Eriy draws with a toothpick and so it naturally varies however the majority of the lines are thin but not spindly so they’re perfectly colourable with moderate vision and fine motor control. The lines themselves are not a stark black, they’re an uneven brown because they’re drawn in dipping ink and while this may not sound great and does take a little getting used to, it truly adds so much charm to the drawings and these illustrations just wouldn’t look right drawn in harsh, black, perfect lines. The images range in intricacy and detail from large open spaces in some of the landscape pages, to small intricate details of vegetables, books and leaves, and everything in between, it’s very wide-ranging but the intricacy level in this book is significantly higher in most images than in Romantic Country though most of the images would still be suitable for those with moderate, or higher, vision or fine motor control so this is a great book for nearly anybody! The images are detailed and contain lots of things to look at and colour but most are not so overwhelming that you don’t know where or how to start and because they’re all depicting real things like buildings, plants, and food, they’re easy to work out colour schemes for whether that be subtle pastels, realistic browns and greys, or bright fantastical colours, this book isn’t so perfect that you don’t want to touch it which is part of its huge appeal. The images are less cohesive in this book and don’t tell a chronological story, however, they do create a wonderful sense of place and they offer great escapism as you walk through the streets, castles, countryside and shops, by the end of the book you really feel like you’ve visited the fantastical lands and you’ll be planning your next visit as soon as you can!

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes to colour scenes, landscapes, shops, food and flowers. This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen, it’s cute, pretty, whimsical, magical and charming and it truly is the book of my dreams, and hopefully of yours. If you don’t already have the first two Romantic Country titles then get them too, this series is truly perfect!

If you’d like to purchase a copy of this gorgeous book then it’s available here:
Amazon UK – Romantic Country: The Third Tale
Book Depository Worldwide –

Book 1 and 2 are available here.

The image below was coloured using Holbein Artist’s Colored Pencils and blended using a Caran d’Ache Blender Pencil.


  1. A lovely review as always. I’ve had my eye on this series for a while but if you were just to pick one out of the whole series- which would you say was your favourite/the best. Also, do you have to buy book 1 before the others? I was wondering if it was like a “story” triology and had to be bought in order.


    1. Thank you! You don’t have to buy them in order, they make more sense in order but you don’t lose a lot by not having them in order or not having all of them. I love them all for different reasons really so everyone’s preferences for a favourite will differ, I think book 2 is my favourite but it’s very hard to pick one. Personally, I’d probably buy them one at a time in order. I guess none of that helps really because it’s all so vague! Check out the images I’ve posted on the review of each one and see which one speaks to you most, 2 and 3 are more fantasy-based which you might prefer, 1 is more traditional and life-focused which I love but others find it less exciting. Do let me know which one you decide on and what you think of it! 🙂


      1. Thank you so much for replying:) I’ve had a good look at all the pics and… Yeah, I really just have to buy them all! I’ll add them to my Christmas list, along with Johanna’s new release and probably Millie Marotta’s latest too! I think we all start out with one colouring book and then….;)
        I just need them all in my life!!
        I just love the look of Eriy’s books, they’re my idea of “the ideal colouring book!”
        Thank you again for all your help.


      2. Great plan, I’m sure as soon as you’ve seen one, you’ll “need” the others! They’re my ideal colouring books too, they’re just so lovely. Looks like you’re going to have a spectacular, colour-filled Christmas! 😀


  2. Hi again,
    I meant to ask you in my previous post about Prismacolour premier pencils. I’ve seen a lot of people using them, including yourself, and, from what I can see, achieve great results. However, I’ve heard a number of criticisms on amazon regarding the lead in the pencil breaking and difficulty in sharpening. I haven’t bought a set yet due to this and seeing as they are quite expensive its definitely a purchase to consider thoroughly. I was wondering what your thoughts on them are, how they compare to polychromos and if you have experienced any problems.

    Thank you:)


    1. Prismas, I do have them and I also have Polychromos, they’re VERY different from each, about as different as can be but I love both. So, Prismas can be quite breakable, I’d advise ordering from Amazon so that if you have issues you can easily send them back. I haven’t had any issues with breakage but a few of mine that haven’t been used are cracking for no reason. I don’t understand why. It doesn’t seem to affect use currently but it may do, luckily so far it’s only colours I don’t use much. You need a decent sharpener and to be gentle, not ridiculously so but you must treat them with care, don’t ever drop the pencils or the box they’re in and sharpen slowly. You’re also better having a shorter point than a longer one as there’s less to break off. My favourite sharpener is the T’Gaal one as it’s adjustable and I always sharpen on the shortest point, you do have to replace sharpeners sometimes as they do blunt and that can then put pressure on the pencil lead and shatter it. Apparently, sharpening normal graphite pencils in between sometimes helps clear off some of the wax residue and prolong the sharpener’s life, no idea if it’s true but it’s definitely worth a try. They’re MUCH softer than Polys and quite sticky so they take a lot of getting used to when switching and I hated them at first but I do love them now, they’re quicker to colour with and easier to blend. They do keep coming down in price and they’re definitely getting more affordable so waiting til now is a very sensible move, I’ve got no idea if they’ll keep going down but they’re currently £85 for the full 150 set and used to be well over £100 so they’re going in the right direction. The company are also pretty good about replacing broken pencils, i.e. cracked ones, so you could try contacting them if you have issues with a number of them but hopefully they’ll be ok. All I would say is make sure you keep them away from temperature changes, don’t put them in sunlight, near a heater, near a cold window as the wood will expand and contract and could crack. My pencils are all kept in the same place stacked on top of each other and the only affected set of mine is the Prismas so I’ve got no idea why they’re cracked but there you go! I’ll contact the company at some point and see if they’ll send me some replacements. Sorry for the essay! Hope that helps, do let me know if you get them and if you like them! 🙂


      1. Thank you for such a detailed explanation! Very helpful!
        I think I will order a set of prisma’s now. As you say they have come down in price which is great! I’ll probably invest in the 42 set for £27.99 or 72 which is about £40 to start of with. I’ll certainly give them a try! I look forward to using them in Romantic Country books!:)
        The sharpener you mentioned sounds good. I currently have a Faber Castell duel hole sharpener, it’s worked well for my Polychromos, do you think it would still be suitable for prisma’s? If not, I’ll definitely percahse the one you mentioned!


      2. You’re very welcome and great idea, please do consider purchasing through one of my affiliate links found at the bottom of each post, you don’t need to find the correct item, just click on any of the Amazon links and then search for what you want, it helps me to run my site and costs no extra to you. I’d try one of the colours you’re not so keen on in your sharpener and if it’s happy then stick with that one, if you get any breakage then I’d get the T’Gaal and just make sure you sharpen slowly and carefully, if any bits of wood are coming out in chunks and the sharpening bit isn’t coming off in one piece then the blade is too blunt and you should use something new. Hope that helps! 🙂


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