Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cover Art Reviews: Bone Crossed and Knife

Melissa's pick: Bone Crossed

Artist: Dan Dos Santos
Author: Patricia Briggs
Publisher: Ace / Penguin

If I hadn't already been following the Mercy Thompson series, and hadn't already been a fan of both Patricia Brigg's books and Dan Dos Santos's artwork, this cover would have sold me on both. I saw the cover art on Dan's site months before the book was due out and could hardly wait to get my hands on it. Even better? Instead of going straight to paperback like the previous three books, Bone Crossed was released in glorious, full-size hardcover, making this gorgeous cover a showcase piece for my bookcase (if only I had ROOM on it. :D).

What makes me love it? While the book has some romantic undertones, the cover doesn't cater directly to the traditional paranormal romance crowd. No faceless torsos or photoshopped werewolves, or glowing eyes. Instead we get the hint of the supernatural in a spectacular tattoo that sleeves her entire arm (and can I just say YAY for showing a woman with a REAL tattoo and not a girly butterfly on her back?). Although her outfit is clearly designed with the "sex sells" concept in mind, too, it's not blatant. She looks like she could actually work in her clothes, and has. Mercy, the character in the book, is a mechanic, and a damned good one (again, not your typical profession for a heroine), and the cover shows how strong she is and how willing she is to get dirty to get the job done. Having read the series, too, I can also say that when I saw the cover for this, I knew what the rain symbolically meant--which does somewhat heighten the impact of the image. That aside, however, it's a beautifully composed scene, and the lighting and palette really set the tone for the book.

What would I change about it? Maybe a teeeeeensy bit less cleavage. Other than that, not a thing at all.

Louisa's response to the Bone Crossed cover:

I first saw this cover when I went to stay with Melissa and her family a few weeks ago - it was on the top of a very large pile of books that she set down in front of me and gave me firm instructions to read. With the Mercy Thompson series, I needed no convincing. I'd already brought the second book on the plane with me. I fell in love with this cover right away and picked it up several times just to look at it. It's more than just a pretty girl standing in the rain. It tells you who Mercy is as a person - what she does, where she works, a little about her ancestry (note the earring) and the tattoos clue you in further, especially the one on her stomach. Yes, it's the details that do it for me. I love it when books use full illustrations like this for covers instead of simplistic, generic photomanipulations and this is one of the ones that always comes to mind when I think of good cover art.

Louisa's pick: Knife

Artist: Brian Froud
Author: R. J. Anderson
Publisher: Orchard

I'll hold my hands up and say I haven't read this book yet. It's on a list (an Amazon Wishlist, to be precise) of books I've been recommended but haven't gotten around to buying yet (I have to pace myself. If I bought every book I was entranced by immediately, I wouldn't have the money for internet). However, it came very highly recommended by Sarah Rees Brennan, a very wise and funny author I generally obey without question, and it had a Brian Froud cover. Brian Froud? Brian Froud fairy? SOLD.

I think Brian's art, as a general rule, is either gorgeous or adorable or both, and this is both even in its simplicity - just the heroine, Knife, standing in the centre of the page. What I like is that she is not your typical wide eyed, guileless and gentle fairy in a flower petal dress. She has a scowly, stubborn little face, wide planted feet and fists firmly planted on hips and the kind of attitude that tells you to keep well out of range of her tiny fists.

Excerpt from Sarah B's review:
KNIFE: Come no closer human, or I will stab you with my magnificent blade.
PAUL: ... Did you nick that letter opener from Dad's desk?
If there were a fairy version of Lyra Belacqua, this is how I would picture her. She draws you in as a character and looks kickass despite obviously only being a couple of inches tall (and can I just say how impressed I am that Brian Froud could convey her size so clearly without anything else on the cover to compare her to) and she makes me want to read her story. The colours and the glow are beautiful and create a darker, mystical mood and a sense of adventure - at least that's how I see it.

Melissa's response to Knife:

Crap! Not Froud's cover, because this one rocks. I mean it's crap that the awesome Froud cover is UK only and our US cover (and title) makes this look like a completely different book. Over here in the US, the book with the awesome title "Knife" is changed to "Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter" and the wicked looking cover has been replaced with precisely what Louisa was glad Froud's cover wasn't: a "typical wide eyed, guileless and gentle fairy in a flower petal dress." The US cover artist is Melanie Delon, whose work I admire on a technical level but... seriously? WHY did they whitewash this character so badly on the US cover and make it look like a book for *very* young girls? I guess because the target market in the US is only girls ages 9-12, when it looks like it would probably appeal to a wider age group. The Froud cover is spunky and fun, and would likely appeal to teenage girls and adults who read YA fic. The Delon cover is pretty... but definitely more suited to pre-adolescent girls who think that faeries are pretty and sweet. From what I can tell of the book, the faeries in this book are anything BUT pretty and sweet.


  1. I wondered who did the U.S. 'Knife' cover. What's up with those wonky wings?? Right, right...pretty. Pretty boring. But that might not have been Delon's fault; there's always an art director to get through. I love the idea of reviewing covers; do this more often! And yes, I'm a huge Dos Santos fan.

  2. I think it's more the title design that ruins the american cover. The illustration is not bad. The character looks way more innocent than the other cover, but the title makes it look cutesy.

  3. I just discovered your blog, I never thought of doing book COVER reviews! What a terrific idea!! I must say that I prefer the UK title and Froud art myself, but Froud is my favorite faery artist.