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Thursday, December 22, 2022

The Books of 2022: Fantasy Covers

I’ve been a fantasy reader since the 90s. I read it when I was younger, but never particularly sought it out until I was in college, and then it became my primary genre for half a decade.

Which means I had books with some amazing covers, but there was still a fair amount of sexist crap, and only very rarely would I see a book cover with a woman in reasonable armor. I bought Mercedes Lackey‘s By the Sword without even reading the description because I immediately feel in love with the cover.


The Hourglass ThroneThe Hourglass Throne (2022) K.D. Edwards (The Tarot Sequence)
Publisher: Pyr
Cover illustration Micah Epstein. Cover design by Jennifer Do
Urban, LGBT


Book three here, and each cover is clearly part of the same series. (The Last Sun, The Hanged Man)

This is my favorite cover of the series so far. Rune looks broody, while the sands passing through his fingers clearly reference the title.

Although all three books have the same illustrator, each new cover (IMO) is better than the previous.

WitchmarkWitchmark (2018) C.L. Polk (The Kingston Cycle)
Publisher: Tor
Cover design by Will Staehle
Historical, LGBT *


The cover of this book immediately drew my attention and I wanted to read it before I knew anything about the story.

The color is amazing, and the silhouettes evoke the sense of the magic in the story.

It’s gorgeous. I love it.

A Restless TruthA Restless Truth (2022) Freya Marske (Last Binding)
Publisher: Tor
Cover art and design by Will Staehle
Historical, LGBT *


Although I far prefer the color scheme of the first book, A Marvellous Light, this cover is clearly part of the same series. And the different colors draw your attention to the fact this second book is about different characters.

I really adore covers with silhouettes.

I want to point out that A Marvellous Light and Witchmark (above) have the same designer, but I would never have guessed that from just looking at them

Amongst Our WeaponsAmongst Our Weapons (2022) Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London)
Publisher: DAW
Jacket map illustration Stephen Walter. Jacket design Tomas Almeida. Jacket hand lettering Patrick Knowles.


I love all the covers in this series (except for the weird version the first American book had).

The map of London, the little drawings representing events in the story, it’s all wonderful, and quite unlike anything else.

Mead Mishaps by Kimberly Lemming: That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Demon (2021) and That Time I Got Drunk and Yeeted a Love Potion at a Werewolf (2022)
Cover art: Kimberly Lemming (?)
Romance *


That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Demon That Time I Got Drunk and Yeeted a Love Potion at a Werewolf Mistlefoe

A self-published series, and one (as best I can tell) for which she created her own covers.

To be honest, the covers are what initially drew my attention to the first book, and after reading the title I just had to know more.

You totally know what you’re getting from the titles, yet the cover and title are so over-the top you have to wonder if it will be as fun as everything suggests.

It is.

And me note again that I am pretty sure she created her own covers.

The Wisteria Society of Lady ScoundrelsThe Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels (2021) India Holton (Dangerous Damsels)
Publisher: Berkley
Cover art by Dawn Cooper
Historical 8


This cover is so so so very pretty.

I adore the preparing to pace-off for a duel position of the two main characters. It is quite clear that although this may be an historical, she is clearly not taking anyone’s shit.

Proper ScoundrelsProper Scoundrels (2021) Allie Therin (Roaring Twenties Magic)
Publisher: Carina Press
No cover artist mentioned or easily found.
Historical, LGBT *


This is a spin-off from the Magic in Manhattan series, and like that series this cover clearly gives you the time and place of the story, with the canes and the hats and the art deco flourishes, and the giant clock tower in the background.

And the red is a perfect eye-catching shade without making me think immediately of blood.

Pack of LiesPack of Lies (2022) Charlie Adhara (Monster Hunt)
Publisher: Carina
No cover artist mentioned or easily found.
Supernatural, LGBT *


This is a spin-off from the Big Bad Wolf series.

This is thematically quite different from the covers in the first series, but the blue-greys are very similar (especially to the first book,

I adore that the werewolf paws appear on all the covers, but those paw prints (along with the titles) are the only hints you’ve picked up a werewolf book. I mean, I love a good shifter story, but so many covers are extremely unsubtle about it.

I also love the snow-covered buildings and the giant moon. They’re eerie and beautiful at the same time.

BlitzBlitz (2022) Daniel O’Malley (The Checquy Files)
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Cover design by Lucy Kim
Mystery, Urban


All the books in this series feature a fancy coat of arms with unexpected bits in the center: bunny, castle, tentacle creature, teapot. Although those are references from the first story, it works well to keep continuity from book to book.

Initially I thought this cover had deviated significantly from the previous books, but after finishing the book, I realized it didn’t. It’s simply that the powers Myfanwy and Felicity have are quiet, internal ones, while the powers Lyn manifests are not quiet. Plus the second story line takes place during the bombing of London, so this cover does call for a lot more noise.

Plus, all the lightening is really very pretty.

HeartwoodHeartwood (2021) A.M. Rose (Daydream, Colorado)
Cover designed by BCJ Art & Design
Supernatural, LGBT *


All the covers in the series and bright and colorful and although they are busy, that matches the feel of the stories for me. Each cover is different, but very obviously part of the series. Daydream, Blindspot, Mischief

And yes, I generally don’t like busy covers, but self-published books are always graded on a curve, and they have done the work to make the cover art cohesive across the series.

Daydream is my favorite cover in the series, because the predomination of blues and whites feel calming, and the whole thing is something I might hang up near my desk to enjoy.


Deadbeat DruidDeadbeat Druid (2022) David R. Slayton  (Adam Binder)
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Cover design by Sarah Riedlinger
LGBT, Urban


This is the third book in the series and all the covers clearly belong together. Nothing flashy here, but I like the starkness, and the monochromatic themes of each book. (White Trash Warlock, Trailer Park Trickster)

Nothing fancy, yet eye catching never-the-less.

Bee Cave MagicBee Cave Magic (2020) Kelly Fox
Cover art: Kelly Fox
LGBT, Supernatural *


Considering the author made her own cover art, I’m pretty impressed.

To be truly honest, this book gives you no indication of what is happening (fated mates shifter romance with boinking) but it’s pretty, and there are no ridiculously air-brushed people. So even if it doesn’t especially match the story, it also doesn’t make me cringe or cover my eyes.

Mysterious Charm by Celia Lake: Outcrossing (2018), Goblin Fruit (2019), Magician’s Hoard (2019), Wards of the Roses (2019), In the Cards (2019)
Cover design by Augusta Scarlett
Historical, Romance *


OutcrossingGoblin FruitMagicians Hoard

This is another self-published author who got an actual artist to create her covers. They’re lovely, they give you a sense of time in how the silhouettes are dressed, and there is clearly a sense of magic in the swirl of stars (sparkles?) that appears on each cover.

Wards of the RosesIn the Cards

This series as a whole is extremely well done—and doubly so for a self-published series.

Prosperity series by Alexis Hall : Prosperity (2018),  Liberty & Other Stories (2018)
Cover art: Simoné
LGBT, Steampunk *

Prosperity Liberty & Other Stories

These are slightly older books, and self-published. However, note he paid an artist to create his covers.

They are evocative of the sense of the book: steampunk and a main character who is a bit of a charlatan.

Of Claws and FangsOf Claws and Fangs (2022) Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock)
Publisher: Ace
Cover art by Cliff Nielsen


I really like how the cover features three cats and zero humans. The stories are from both series, but of course Beast belongs on the top (“Beast is best hunter.”)

And the subtle bat piping design along the left side ties the book into Jane books (although both series have piping down the side).

Posthumous EducationPosthumous Education (2022) Drew Hayes (Fred, the Vampire Accountant)


I adore these covers almost as much as I adore the book. The first seemed ridiculous, but the fit the series so well I now love them all.


  • Ace (Penguin): 1
  • Berkley (Penguin): 1
  • Blackstone (small press): 1
  • Carina (Harper Collins): 2
  • DAW (Astra House): 1
  • Little, Brown & Co (Hachette): 1
  • Pyr (Start Publishing): 1
  • self-published: 8
  • Tor (Macmillan): 2


Self-published books are the clear winner here, which, for anyone who was reading self-published books a decade ago, is frankly amazing. I love that authors are hiring artists to create their self-published books (in some cases, the author themself) because it makes great books a great deal easier to recommend when the characters don’t live in the uncanny valley, the fonts are legible, and the use of photohop to piece together disparate elements isn’t glaring.

In fact, across genres, just over a quarter of the covers I especially liked were from self-published authors, and nearly another quarter were from small / independent publishers.

As for imprints, Berkley far and away had the greatest number of good covers (13%) which is what I’ve noticed in other years. So once again, whomever is charge of book covers at Berkley: you’re doing a fantastic job.


That’s it for my favorite covers of the year. I’ll be back with the books I loved after Christmas.

The Books of 2022: Yearly Reading Roundup

* Boinking

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