First Impressions of The Library at Mount Char

The Library at Mount CharScott Hawkins’ The Library at Mount Char is dark, weird and funny. It’s basically the perfect book for me. I knew I was going to love it within a few sentences, and so far it hasn’t disappointed.

The main character, Carolyn, has penchant for brutality that constantly surprises me, too. Where other books would establish that the main character had done terrible things but they were all in the past, Hawkins gleefully undermines those expectations. Carolyn behaves in ways that are utterly inhuman without necessarily making her an unlikable character. Of course, it definitely helps that other characters in the book are much, much worse.

My only real criticism so far is that the book’s cover completely misses the mark. It feels like the kind of cover you’d see on your average literary thriller sent straight to the bargain bin. I’m sure it happened because the book already feels impossible to sell from what I’ve read so far, but it’s incredibly unfortunate because I would not have picked this book up off a shelf without first understanding the completely bat-shit premise.

I’m only about 15% through at this point, so it’s possible the book won’t deliver on its early promises, but who can go wrong with chapter titles like “Buddhism for Assholes”?

Cover Reveal: Normal by Warren Ellis

Normal by Warren EllisWarren Ellis’ next novel, Normal, is coming later this year from Farrar, Straus & Giroux. The synopsis calls it “a smart, tight, provocative techno-thriller straight out of the very near future.” I especially love the shattered effect they’ve used for the font on the cover. I still need to read Gun Machine, his previous novel, but I feel like he’s an author I’m always likely to enjoy.

Cover Reveal: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

The Bone ClocksThe US cover for David Mitchell’s new novel, The Bone Clocks, was revealed today, and I definitely prefer it to the UK version. It tells the story of a runaway English girl with psychic powers. I don’t think this is the follow-up/sequel to The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet that Mitchell discussed, but the connections between his books aren’t necessarily obvious. Looking forward to picking it up later this year!

A Few Bad Days

Just got back from a trip to BookPeople and wanted to share these striking covers for the “Bad Day” books by Sophie Littlefield.

I love these designs. They’re eye-catching but minimal, and tell you everything you need to know about the book’s premise. You can guess that the main character is feminine but still dangerous with a weapon. It’s a wonderful juxtaposition to see a woman in a summery dress holding a handgun or a baseball bat. You can tell from her stance that she means business. The second book’s design immediately made me pick it up and read the synopsis.

Interestingly enough, the third book’s cover changes up the formula a bit:

Instead of a woman standing facing us with her feet planted, she’s turned around with her hip cocked, holding a more traditionally “female” weapon, a frying pan. Where the first two covers seem to hint at an intensity and violence at odds with the heroine’s dress, this one seems to be playing up her sex appeal and implying that this story will be more lighthearted than the first two.

The setting also appears to be slightly less country and more suburban than the first. Instead of a backdrop of peeling paint, we see a beautiful house off in the distance. In my mind, the first two covers clearly say “crime novel with a female protagonist”, whereas the third seems to imply that the story might be more like Desperate Housewives.

It’s really fascinating how they’ve used the same basic elements in the third book’s cover to market the book to slightly different audience. I wonder how the author feels about the shift in design?

A Game of Covers

One of my friends just sent me a link to a tumblr by Matt Roeser, a graphic designer who “reads books and then designs new covers for them”,

Most recently he’s re-done all of the Song of Ice and Fire books by George RR Martin, and my friend’s comment is a plaintive “do want”. I love seeing designers go a little wild and try out proof-of-concept cover designs. I’d actually come across this site before – I believe I’d seen his Shades of Grey cover re-design previously – but the designer has out-done himself with his newest series, which are gorgeous.

My only criticism of the designs is that they don’t quite capture the gritty, realistic qualities of the series – they’re just a little bit too bright. They’re better than the originals, which are pretty generic “fantasy series” designs, but I think none of the covers for this series has ever quite captured the aesthetic I’d like to see.

The TV show tie-in version of the first cover does at least bring in a little bit of darkness into the picture, but I feel like pictures of known actors should never end up being the definitive cover unless the design is specifically re-done for the book. I could also do without the maroon “NEW ORIGINAL SERIES” band at the top of the HBO version.