I complain a lot about terrible book covers, so I figured that I should make a point of noting good covers, and why I like them.
Sadly, that doesn’t seem to stop the terrible covers, but I keep hoping.
To make this post, the books had to have been published in 2015 or 2016. I decided to break these posts into two parts–modern covers and historical setting covers.
First up, the covers of books with a modern-day setting.
The Witches of Lychford
Paul Cornell gets some very good covers. I also love the covers for his Shadow Police series, but The Severed Streets was published in 2014 and so missed my cut off.
These covers are deceptively simple, but you can tell they are in the same series, and the fog evokes the mystery of the books themselves.
Published by Tor
Witches of Lychford (2015) Paul Cornell (10/10)
The Lost Child of Lychford (2016) Paul Cornell (9/10)
The Jane Yellowrock series is a good example of what I think are good covers. They had difficulty getting a good model (you can see that one model looks Native American while the other, not so much) but they’ve done their best to make the model on the cover look like Jane.
Although I think that Jane shows a little too much skin, and her hair is never down when she fights, but it’s not a horrible issue. At least they put her in her neck guard.
But most importantly, Jane is active and in control on these covers. She looks like a woman who is in the midst of kicking someone’s ass, which is, well, that’s Jane.
Published by ROC
Shadow Rites (2016) Faith Hunter (8/10)
Blood in Her Veins (2016) Faith Hunter (8/10)
The covers of Faith Hunter’s are quite different from the Jane books, but they are still evocative, and are a good representative of Nell.
I particularly like two things: first, the use of color, which seems to represent Nell’s magic use, but most importantly, even though Nell is a magic user who does not typically fight, she is still in an active pose. I actually think that’s a good way to depict Nell’s magic use, as described in the book, so extra bonus points for that. The only marks off are for (like the Jane covers) too much skin. But all else considered, these are really great covers.
Published by ROC
Blood of the Earth (2016) Faith Hunter (8/10)
Curse on the Land (2016) Faith Hunter (8/10)
Bone Street Rumba
This is, hands down, one of my favorite covers.
There are three main characters in this story: Carlos, Reza, and Kia. Not only did they make Kia, the teenage girl, the cover character, she looks like a teenager girl and is not sexualized.
I look at that and immediately know it’s Kia.
But even better, she’s 1) in an active pose 2) wearing a leather jacket and showing minimal skin and 3) has wild, natural hair.
Even though Kia is just standing there looking like a tough and surly teenager, it’s still obvious there is action in this book from everything happening behind her.
Kudos to ROC for putting out such amazing and marvelous covers.
Midnight Taxi Tango (2016) Daniel José Older (9/10)
Published by ROC
Although I could quibble with some elements of this cover (why do they always have Mercy exposing her stomach and showing boobs? She’s a mechanic, she’s not going to dress like that. And she’s too skinny.) I generally let them slide because 1) Mercy looks like a capable human being 2) she is never in a passive or submissive pose.
Published by Ace
Fire Touched (2016) Patricia Briggs (8/10)
The SPI Files
Despite the cartoonish look of these covers, I do like them.
Mak is in the forefront with the male character behind her, she is in an active pose, and the figure looks like the character–small and unassuming.
Published by Ace
The Brimstone Deception (2016) Lisa Shearin (9/10)
I love Charles de Lint’s writing, and I love the covers to his older books. He’s been reissuing his older books himself, and although I realize that the art of the original covers belongs to either the publisher or the artist, I miss those covers.
But this cover actually does a very good job of evoking the Crow Girls.
Published by Triskell Press (the author)
Newford Stories: Crow Girls (2015) Charles de Lint (9/10)
What is interesting about this cover is that–like the descriptions in the book–you really have no idea what the main character looks like.
My reflection met my gaze with a cold, mistrustful stare. A very familiar face because it hadn’t changed in so very long. Not the one I would have chosen; but good enough. I was tall, slim, dark-haired and handsome enough if you weren’t too choosy. A long rangy figure who appeared to be in his mid twenties. Dressed well, but anonymously. The kind of stuff you can buy anywhere, so you can fit in anywhere. An easy smile, a casual look, and dark eyes that gave away absolutely nothing.
I also like the feel that something untoward is possibly going to happen. Plus, of course, snow, which I love.
Published by Severn House Digital
The Dark Side of The Road (2015) Simon R. Green (8/10)
I have so much love for this cover and almost can’t stand it.
The model is Sierra Santiago. No really, here’s a quote from the book.
(T)he words crept in, made a home in Sierra’s mind no matter how much she fought them off. Her wild, nappy hair. She ran her hands through her fro. She loved it the way it was, free and undaunted. She imagined it as a force field, deflecting all Rosa’s stupid comments.
And although she is just standing, she is not an a submissive position–she looks strong and capable. And the colors (along with the brick behind her) evoke the painting Sierra does.
This is a marvelous cover, and I am so very happy that Daniel Jose Older gets such great covers.
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books
Shadowshaper (2015) Daniel José Older (9.5/10)
Here’s an interesting thing. There are 12 covers here, all fantasy in some way.
Tor has 2 covers
ROC has 5 covers
Ace has 2 covers
But ROC and Ace are both imprints of Berkely (which is now part of Penguin I believe). That means that just over half of the great covers I loved this year come from a single publishing house.
I didn’t have any covers I utterly despised this year, but Avon has released the cover for Ilona Andrews upcoming book and it is just as horrific as the cover for first book in that series. (1)
I don’t know what is wrong with Avon that they keep putting out such abysmally bad covers, but I wish they’d take a good look at what ROC and Ace are doing.
(1) Ilona Andrews has no say in their book covers. That horrificness is ALL on the Avon.
If you click through any of the Amazon links and buy something, it’ll get me hapenny or so, which will eventually let me buy another book.