I’m combining this week’s Top 5 Wednesday with my new series of posts “Judging Before Reading”. My first post was about covers I don’t like.
We’ve done this topic in the past, but with so many new, beautiful covers, it is time for an update.
I haven’t read all the books on this list, and if I’ve read them, I don’t necessarily recommend them. These are not my favorite books with pretty covers, this is a list about my favorite kinds of covers, with some examples.
Really Detailed, Atmospheric Illustrations
This is probably my favorite kind of cover. I love illustrations (I will always complain about the fact that, unlike adult SFF and middle grade, YA fantasy rarely has illustrated covers) and I love when the illustrations are detailed and their details remind me of some scenes in the book.
Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng – when I say I like details, I mean something like this. Every time I look at this cover, I notice something new. This cover also represents the book’s atmosphere perfectly – it’s a Gothic story about Victorian missionaries in fairyland with really creepy faeries.
Paris Adrift by E.J. Swift – this is a gorgeous one. Not only you can immediately tell this is a story about time travel (look at the clock) set in France (look at the color scheme), but all the symbols – like the creepy bird and the violin – are references to some specific scenes in this book. I love this cover a lot.
The Black Tides of Heaven by JY Yang – I love this illustration for its style and atmosphere and I don’t know if I would have picked this book up if it hadn’t been for the cover. The details in the cloud are my favorite part.
Plants and Animals
Anything that is in any way tied with plants and animals (creepy trees and dragons as much as goldfish and kittens) is automatically more interesting to me. Especially if the covers has marine animals on it.
Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman – I haven’t read this book, I don’t know if I will, but every time I see this cover, I want to. Not only it’s purple (which is almost always pretty), it’s also a jellyfish. And jellyfish are some of the prettiest animals on this planet, when you’re not touching them.
After the Woods by Kim Savage – Creepy woods are my favorite kind of setting, and this is one of my favorite covers because of that. It’s beautiful, it’s mysterious, it’s far less peaceful that one might think, and it represent the books perfectly. Yes, I’m almost sure the main reason I liked this book was the setting, since it’s the only thing I remember about it. (I really need to reread this.)
For A Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig – Dragons! I love reading about dragons and I love seeing them on book covers. Also, that color scheme. The brightness. This cover must be so beautiful to see in real life. (Maybe I will? I’m reading it right now and really liking it, maybe I’ll like it enough to buy a physical copy too?)
Atmosphere and weirdness. Those are two things I always look for in books – and in covers, too. Floating girls may be a bit of a cliché and I don’t love all covers with them [I really don’t like the Mara Dyer ones] but when the cover gets it right, I can’t look away.
Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant – this is the vaguest and also most creepy of these covers. It shows a girl – probably dead, since all that red is not her hair as one might think at first – floating in the darkness, and the way the title is written makes you think of water. I love this cover, it looks dark and violent like the book’s content without looking like a scene out of a splatter movie.
The Sin-Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury – I tried (and then read) this book just because I love the cover that much. It’s about a girl who can poison people with her touch, and the cover represents both the poison part and Twylla’s feelings (she feels very alone and trapped). I love it conceptually and I love it because it looks pretty.
The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé – this book is a underhyped f/f YA new release I probably wouldn’t have noticed at all if it hadn’t been for the cover. Now it’s one of my favorite books of 2018, and I’m so glad the cover was pretty enough for me to remember it. The deep blue under the ice, the creepy atmosphere, the floating girl – it’s a mysterious cover I really like and it made me want to read the book.
Title on Flat, Dark Background
I love when the cover is just (or almost just) the title on a dark background, especially if said dark background is the night sky and there is a skyline. It looks mysterious and “mysterious” always makes me want to read the book.
A Room Away From the Wolves by Nova Ren Suma – this is purple and I love purple, but what I like the most about this cover is the skyline, the moon and the stars. It’s the perfect cover for a creepy, atmospheric book set in New York I probably wouldn’t even have read if I hadn’t loved the cover.
Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke – this is really intriguing and symbolic and tells you nothing about the book, but that’s why I love it. I read the book just because of it, so I guess it’s a good one.
Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter – this cover is even prettier in real life. I know because I own a hardcover copy, this is one of my favorite books of all time. Like in A Room Away From the Wolves, there’s a skyline, but this time there’s also the silhouette of the Brooklyn Bridge and one of the most important symbols in the novel, the swan. It’s simple and mysterious and I love the color scheme.
Just Be Weird!
Up until this part, I talked about covers I find pretty. But beauty isn’t the only way a cover can catch my attention: here are some cover that intrigued me because of how weird they looked.
Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee – if this cover hadn’t looked like a very weird space urchin, I doubt I would ever have found, noticed and read my all-time favorite book. [Which makes me wonder how many great books am I missing just because their cover was unremarkable]. As I said before, I love everything that has to do with marine animals, and this space station looks like an Arbacia lixula in space. The ones whose spines regularly end up in my toes every summer. I hate them and I love them and I had to read the space urchin book. There are no urchins inside, but I’m fine with it.
Borne by Jeff VanderMeer – this book is about a very colorful and weird biopunk apocalypse. I would never have dreamed of picking up if it hadn’t been for the very weird cover. Is that a plant? An animal? An alien? I don’t know, but it’s Borne and it makes sense for the book. It helps that part of the creature looks like the feeding tentacles of the fanworm Sabella spallanzanii.
Vita Nostra by Marina & Sergey Dyachenko – I requested this on edelweiss just because the cover looked really beautiful and weird. I have no idea what that illustration means, if it means something, but I find it intriguing and I probably wouldn’t even have noticed this novel if it hadn’t been for it.
What characteristics do you like in covers? What are your favorite ones?