This is a fun topic! Let’s dive in!
(Before we start, perhaps you’re wondering what happened to my Harry Potter blog series. Don’t worry, there will be more in that, but it turns out I need to reread the books to remind myself what happened in them compared to the movies. (I watched the movies super recently, but read the books a few months ago, so some details are kinda fuzzy😅) Don’t worry, it will be returning! Just give me a couple of weeks so I can deliver the best content possible for you guys! Hang in there, Potter nerds! I’ll come through eventually!)
This post also requires a lot of disclaimers. You can skip them if you want. But they’re there if you want to know the the technicalities.
*DISCLAIMER: In this post, most of the photos you will see have been taken of books I own. As such, you may be able to see snippets of the carpet they were sitting on when I took the photo, and parts of the book covers may not be visible form where I cropped the photo. However, some of the books I will show you I do not own, and the photos of them were taken either in a bookstore or screenshotted online. I will make it clear which one were screenshotted, and from where. If the owners of the sites/social media accounts I screenshotted them off don’t like me using screenshots to promote their products and encouraging people to gain awareness of their awesomeness, please contact me directly and I will take the photos down.*
*DISCLAIMER #2: I am not being paid to promote any of these books/products. I do not gain anything financially by doing so, and I am doing so with the intent only to show people how awesome and amazing I think these books’ cover design are. This post is not intended to harm the owners of the cover art in any way, only to promote my personal and entirely subjective opinions on how awesome they are. I did not ask permission of the authors/illustrators/site owners/social media users to use these screenshots or photos, as such, if anyone has an issue with my use of them, again, please contact me directly and I will take them down. Thank you.*
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’
It’s a lie.
We all judge books by their covers.
And yes, I know this phrase is a metaphor for not judging people by their appearances, and I wholeheartedly agree with that. But for the purposes of this blog post, let’s just apply this to books.
Now, should we judge books by their covers?
A book could be beautifully written and have a bland-as cover, and still be an amazing book, with great characters. I have The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss in a fairly plain cover, grey with gold lettering, I believe. And that book is a true piece of art in its story!
But the sad truth for authors (and readers) is that we do judge a book by its cover — or at the very least, we do if we know nothing about the book to begin with. Sometimes someone will recommend a book, or you’ll see it’s by one of your favourite authors. Will you buy it if it’s cover is bland? Probably. Because you have some degree of knowledge at the outset that the story is going to be intriguing without having to see a beautiful cover to pique interest.
But as for a book you know nothing about — one you just see in a bookstore — what’s gonna grab you about it?
Well, probably the title, to start with.
But one you pick it up, what grabs you?
This is actually how I recently found and read an amazing fantasy series, Keeper of the Lost Cities, by Shannon Messenger. Just look at a couple of her books’ covers:
Look at beautiful semi-realistic but also stylised characters, the semi-painterly brush choice (I don’t know for sure, but I think just from looking at it that this was painted digitally to emulate real painting materials. Don’t quote me on that, it’s just my general impression.) Look at the beautiful way light and colour are employed to lead your eye to the focal point of the image: the characters. And look at the textures — they’re just awesome. And just the composition, the concepts!!!
. . .
Sorry, I’m an artist. Most of you are probably just appreciating this for the striking poses and intriguing questions the images raise. Also, on the 2nd book, Exile, Sophie just looks cute. And who doesn’t love an Alicorn on the cover? And on the 6th book, Nightfall … the whole picture makes me desperate to read the story, to find out what there doing … it just looks so cool! (It’s even cooler once you read the book!)
I was literally browsing in the book section of one of my local stores, and I saw these covers for the first time, and was like, “Wow! These must be cool!”
Admittedly I didn’t buy them on the spot — but every time I went back to that store, I eyed them hungrily, just because they really appealed to my artistic side. Eventually I got them out of my town’s library, got hooked, got sick of waiting for the ones on hold (also wanted a reread of the earlier books in the series) and so went shopping and bought them.
9 great whopping fat books.
They are thick, people. Almost as thick, some if not thicker, than Name of the Wind. Which is to say, about 662 pages in the hardback, small-print — about 250,000 words.
But this isn’t a review of Keeper of the Lost Cities (I will do one of those in the future, watch this space😉), so let’s focus on the point — which is to say, I ended up being intrigued by and buying 9 really thick books because I was initially interested by the cover art.
Cover art is really powerful, people.
So this post is basically a nerd out about all my favourite covers, and what I love about them. And along the way, perhaps we will truly learn what makes an intriguing book cover (at least from my own subjective artistic perspective.)
My Favourite Book Covers: H. Rider Haggard’s The Brethren and Pearl Maiden.
Wow. Just looking at these makes me want to reread The Brethren, and try Pearl Maiden for the first time.
So, with The Brethren, what I love about the cover is the intriguingness of the fact we have two crusader knights (both very good-looking, in my opinion … I will neither confirm nor deny that a couple of my own knightly characters bear a mild resemblance … *whistles and walks off*), and a girl in clearly middle-eastern garb. That’s interesting, right off the bat. The fact she’s between these two knights, and it’s called ‘The Brethren’ makes me feel very curious as to where this story’s gonna go. I would definitely turn the book over and read the back blurb at this point.
And then there’s the really pleasing painterly style of the cover. But it’s the character dynamics that really sell it for me.
I did actually read The Brethren, and while I won’t do a full review here, I will say that while the first 3 chapters felt a little slow, once I got into it it was amazing. I felt like I was back in the times of the Crusades, in the Middle East, getting to meet all these amazing people and learn so much about history along the way. There’s a lot of stuff with Saladin in there, if you know who he is, and every scene he’s in is great. I loved his representation in this book. I highly recommend it as a historical novel about the Crusades, if you’re interested in that time period.
Anyway, onto Pearl Maiden, I haven’t read this one yet, but I want to. The cover intrigues me, the girl is just so innocent and soulful-looking, and it looks like Jerusalem is being sacked by the Romans. And there’s that star in the sky … I’m seriously interested to see how this story will play out. Again, the painterly style is beautiful (I think I’m beginning to see a trend), and the lighting is extremely dramatic. And look at that writing up the top — I think it’s Greek and Hebrew (maybe it’s Latin and Hebrew, don’t shoot me), but either way, it makes it look even cooler. Awesome cover, hands down.
Congratulations to the artist!
My Favourite Book Covers: Andrew Peterson’s New Editions of The Wingfeather Saga.
*I screenshotted these images on the ‘store’ section of Wingfeathersaga.com, as I do not own these editions of the books.*
— Short pause as I slow clap … —
Wow. Aren’t these just beautiful? The artist outdid themselves in the sheer beauty and mood of these covers — it makes me want to reread the Wingfeather Saga all over again. (And buy these editions of the books.)
My family actually own the original editions of these books — which I loved the covers of anyway, for different reasons. But these covers really bring out the characters, location, and aesthetic of each individual book.
The mood, people. The mood.
And the colours! The lighting! The composition — now that really is clever, the more I stare at it. Like, putting scenes inside cutouts of the characters’s clothings? That’s a pretty cool design. Or the scene inside Oskar’s book on the Wingfeather Tales.
Lighting and colour, though, are really what make these images dramatic and striking.
The creativity of the design is also awesome.
The covers say ‘Epic fantasy series about kids and mythical creatures’ and the series certainly delivers that. Shoutout to Andrew Peterson and his cover artist for making these books both fun and whimsy to read but also utterly epic to look at!
My Favourite Book Covers: The Songkeeper Chronicles by Gillian Bronte Adams.
*I screenshotted the photos of books 2 and 3 off the ‘Our Entire Catalog’ section at enclavepublishing.com. I own book 1, and so just took a photo of it normally.*
I’m really blown away by the beauty of these covers. In truth, it was the amazing cover of Orphan’s Song that made me get the book. I mean, look at it. There’s a griffin on the cover.
How many books have griffins in them?!😁
Again, I really love the painterly effect, and on a side note, I love the font for the titles. Like, that’s epic. Although the font on the Wingfeather books and H. Rider Haggard’s books was cool, too. The font on the Keeper of the Lost Cities books is more normal, but the silver colour of the letters is more reflective, and so makes it stand out in a different way.
. . . I should really do a post on fonts and titles. Hmm . . . something for the future . . .😁
Back to the Songkeeper Chronicles, I think out of all of them, much as I love the cover of Orphan’s Song and that griffin, my favourite cover in this series is Song of Leira. Like, is that a deer-goat-horse? And there’s a huge wall of water being held up — it just screams ‘Epic!’ And Birdie’s pose is really cool on Song of Leira, too. It’s a bold move, having your character’s back to the viewer on a final cover, but it really adds to the dramatic effect. It feels like whatever she’s doing, it’s a huge climatic moment.
I’m definitely intrigued.
Also, I must add that the sense of motion in each of these Songkeeper covers is excellent. They all feel like stills from a movie scene — on the cover of Song of Leira, I can almost see the water moving, and the ships tilting as they’re caught by the wave. (Points to anyone who read that sentence and immediately thought of Voyage of the Dawn Treader.😉)
As someone who’s read Orphan’s Song, I can say that while I enjoyed it, don’t go into it with the wrong expectations. Like, it’s under 300 pages. So don’t expect a Keeper of the Lost Cities-esque level of detail and character development. (Like I might have.) Read it with the right mindset, people!😅 It’s a great debut and a really fun world. There’s an awesome griffin, a really fun relationship between some of the characters, and it’s a super-interesting concept, of songs that fill the whole world, and only the Songkeepers can hear them — with a griffin as part of the plot. Anyway, this isn’t a story review, so I’ll stop raving about the griffin now.
Did I mention the griffin was cool?😁
In Conclusion . . .
That’s it, storykeepers! The end of part one of my nerd out about my favourite cover designs!
I think between all of the ones we looked at today, there’s a commen thread in the fact the characters feature prominently — and they mostly have very painterly designs — not highly realistic, but not highly stylised either. Wingfeather would be the most stylised out of all of the above, but to be honest, that’s part of what grabs me about it.
This is probably just my personal taste, but every single one of these covers grabbed me and made me want to buy/read whatever respective book it was. The beauty of characters, light, colour, composition, and most of all — the story each cover tells — makes me yearn to experience whatever the true story is within the pages.
To know what the cover signifies.
Maybe it’s the same for you.
Your turn, Storykeepers! Did you like the covers I nerded about today? And what are some of your favourite covers you’d recommend people check out? Let me know in the comments!