Random (but not really)

Sunday, December 24, 2023

The Covers of 2023: Fantasy

Back when I was in college, there were two types of fantasy covers: the amazingly gorgeous covers, such as those done by Thomas Canty, or there were the really awful covers you absolutely wouldn’t read in public.

There are still some horrible covers out there, but there are also very few with Thomas Canty-level gorgeous art.

Te current trend seems to feature silhouettes, and I honestly love it. But there were a variety of styles I liked this year as far as fantasy covers went.


Legends & Lattes (2022) by Travis Baldree

Legends & Lattes

Cover art by Carson Lowmiller & Cover design by Peter Lutjen

Published by Tor Books (Macmillan)

An orc hires a hob, a succubus, and a ratkin to help her build and run her dream: a coffee shop.

This cover is a throwback to those 80s and 90s covers, from the color palette to the fonts.

but once you look at characters and what they’re doing it’s obvious this is nothing like those fantasies from the 80s and 90s. There are baked goods–and not a single chain-mail bikini in to be seen.

Legends & Lattes has been described as a low-stakes cozy fantasy, and that’s a spot on.

Paladin’s Faith (2023) T. Kingfisher

Paladin's Faith

Published by Red Wombat Studio

As she publishes her own books, and as she also creates comics, I believe she makes her own covers.

This cover matches to previous books in the series, and I like the design.

The Saint of Steel: Paladin’s Grace (2020), Paladin’s Strength (2021), Paladin’s Hope (2021), Paladin’s Faith (2023)

That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Human (2023) by Kimberly Lemming

That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Human

Cover design by Alexia Mazis, Cover illustration by Kimberly Lemming

Published by Orbit (Hachette)

This series is ridiculous.

It is also a lot of fun, despite all the boinking.

This series was initially self-published, and then picked up by Orbit. This cover (and the earlier covers) were drawn by the author, which is freaking AMAZING and I adore everything about that.

Orbit is reissuing the books with different covers, and I feel like those covers weren’t drawn by the author–they have a very different feel–and I don’t like them anywhere near as much. I like the goofy comic/illustrated feel.

Mead Mishaps: That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Demon (2021), Mistlefoe: A Mead Realm Tale (2021), That Time I Got Drunk and Yeeted a Love Potion at a Werewolf (2022), A Bump In Boohail (2022), That Time I Got Drunk and Saved a Human (2023)

The Bookshop and the Barbarian (2023) by Morgan Stang

The Bookshop and the Barbarian

Cover design by Etheric Designs


This is another self-published book, and the author did the work of giving their book a lovely cover. The design seems simple with fewer colors, but the art is pretty and represents various elements of the story.

This cover makes me think of The Lord of the Rings or The Princess Bride, although the story is like neither of those.

A Power Unbound (2023) by Freya Marske

A Power Unbound

Cover art by Will Staehle

Published by Tordotcom

The design matches the previous two books in the series, and although I don’t love the color choices (the pink is a bit much for me personally) I do love the elements and silhouettes and overall botany theme to the design, though this cover is trees, rather than flowers.

You can see it’s a Queer book, but it’s a bit subtle–and quite safe for public transportation.

The Last Binding: A Marvellous Light  (2021),  A Restless Truth (2022), A Power Unbound (2023)

Once a Rogue (2023) by Allie Therin

Once a Rogue

Published by Carina Press (Harlequin)

No cover artist listed.

As usual, Carina/Harlequin don’t give you the artist who created the cover, which is a damned shame, because like the previous book in this series–and the series before this, it’s a gorgeous cover.

I love the art deco elements and the silhouettes (I really love a nice silhouette), and I particularly love the single color theme each of these books has. I’m not sure if it was purposeful, but so far the palettes are matching the first series: red, followed by blue, and that is another lovely touch.

I just wish Carina Press told us the artist so we could appreciate them.

Magic in Manhattan: Spellbound (2019), Starcrossed (2020), Wonderstruck (2021)
Roaring Twenties Magic: Proper Scoundrels (2021), Once a Rogue (2023)

Lamplight Murder Mysteries by Morgan Stang

Murder at Spindle Manor Murder on the Lamplight Express

Cover by Inkwolf Designs; Etheric Designs


More self-published books with gorgeous covers. After discovering Morgan Stang I’ve been searching out and reading their books.

Again, the design seems simple, but the more you look at it, the more details you notice. I’d like to remind you that I hate spiders, but still think that is a pretty cover. I like trains, so nothing disturbing about the second cover.

Lamplight Murder Mysteries: Murder at Spindle Manor (2022), Murder on the Lamplight Express (2023)

Winter’s Gifts (2023) by Ben Aaronovitch

Winter's Gifts

Cover map image by Stephen Walter. Title lettering by Patrick Knowles

Published by Subterranean Press

I didn’t even know this was being published until Tania gifted it to me.

Although published by Subterranean Press (the main series was published first by Del Rey and the by DAW), all of the covers are clearly Rivers of London books with the gorgeous map background and the meandering title font.

Rivers of London: Midnight Riot (2011), Moon Over Soho (2011), Whispers Under Ground (2012), Broken Homes (2014), Foxglove Summer (2014), The Hanging Tree (2017), The Furthest Station (2017), Lies Sleeping (2018), The October Man (2019),  False Value (2020), Tales from the Folly: A Rivers of London Short Story Collection (2020), What Abigail Did That Summer (2021), Amongst Our Weapons (2022), Winter’s Gifts (2023)

The Eidolon (2023) by K.D. Edwards

The Eidolon

Primary Cover art by Dezaray Shuler, Secondary Cover art by Bethany Cath, Dust Jacket design and Magnus Academy seal by Justyna Chlopecka


Although his main series has a publisher, this novella is self-published, and he used fan art for (I believe) everything.

I particularly like the detail where Quinn seems to be tangled up in the things he is trying to manipulate (at least how that’s how it feels to me) which very much describes Quinn and what he has gone through in this book and the previous series.

The Tarot Sequence: The Last Sun (2018), The Hanged Man (2019), The Hourglass Throne (2022)
Magnus Academy: The Eidolon (2023)

Baking Up a Magical Midlife by Jessica Rosenberg

Butter, Sugar, Magic
Butter, Sugar, Magic (2022)
Bread, Coffee, Magic (2022)
Bitter, Sweet, Magic (2022)
Sweet & Sour Spells (2023)

Cover design by Karen Dimmick/ Arcane Covers

Published by Blue Octopus Press

I’m pretty certain it’s the color that I like so much about this cover, especially since the 4th book has a similar theme but a very different color palette, and I don’t like it nearly as well.

It’s a relatively simple design, but the blue elements make it pop and give it the feel of magic.

Liar City (2023) by Allie Therin

Liar City

Published by Carina Press (Harlequin)

This is the second Allie Therin cover to make the list, and like the first, Carina Press doesn’t credit the artist.

I don’t like this cover as much as the two historical series, but as this book is extremely different from the other to series–being an alternate timeline contemporary fantasy rather than an historical with hidden fantastic elements, it should look different.

The smoke / light winding around the needle give it a more subtle magical feel.

Sugar & Vice series

Little, Brown & Company: 1
Orbit: 1
Subterranean Press: 1
Carina Press: 2
Tor Books: 2
Blue Octopus Press: 4
Self-Published : 5

The Books of 2023: Yearly Reading Roundup

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