A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Thinking about favourite book covers has given me a great excuse to wander through my bookshelves and really pour over the different covers. There are so many stunning, beautiful, and clever ones out there – they really are a piece of art.
So I’ve picked 6, without really over thinking it, just ones that leapt out at me. In no particular order –
1) The End of Mr Y – Scarlett Thomas
I saw this on the shelves in Tesco and it leapt out at me. I’d never heard of Scarlett Thomas before. That’s a good cover doing its job perfectly. (And it’s got spray edges which is my dream!)
When Ariel Manto uncovers a copy of The End of Mr. Y in a second-hand bookshop, she can’t believe her eyes. She knows enough about its author, the outlandish Victorian scientist Thomas Lumas, to know that copies are exceedingly rare. And, some say, cursed.
With Mr. Y under her arm, Ariel finds herself thrust into a thrilling adventure of love, sex, death and time-travel.
2) The Last Days of Leda Grey – Essie Fox
Enigmatic and curious, just as the main character is. And with hints of an old-fashioned film set. Beautiful.
During the oppressive heat wave of 1976 a young journalist, Ed Peters, finds an Edwardian photograph in a junk shop in the seaside town of Brightland. It shows an alluring, dark-haired girl, an actress whose name was Leda Grey.
Enchanted by the image, Ed learns Leda Grey is still living – now a recluse in a decaying cliff-top house she once shared with a man named Charles Beauvois, a director of early silent film. As Beauvois’s muse and lover, Leda often starred in scenes where stage magic and trick photography were used to astonishing effect.
But, while playing a cursed Egyptian queen, the fantasies captured on celluloid were echoed in reality, leaving Leda abandoned and alone for more than half a century – until the secrets of her past result in a shocking climax, more haunting than any to be in found in the silent films of Charles Beauvois.
3) The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Another one that I think is curious. What is that man doing? He looks like he has a purpose, but seems bothered. And the colour too – the sepia tone. It’s subtle, not showy, but evocative and mirrors the story. Love it.
Hidden in the heart of the old city of Barcelona is the ‘cemetery of lost books’, a labyrinthine library of obscure and forgotten titles that have long gone out of print. To this library, a man brings his 10-year-old son Daniel one cold morning in 1945. Daniel is allowed to choose one book from the shelves and pulls out ‘La Sombra del Viento’ by Julian Carax.
But as he grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in his find. Then, one night, as he is wandering the old streets once more, Daniel is approached by a figure who reminds him of a character from La Sombra del Viento, a character who turns out to be the devil. This man is tracking down every last copy of Carax’s work in order to burn them. What begins as a case of literary curiosity turns into a race to find out the truth behind the life and death of Julian Carax and to save those he left behind. A page-turning exploration of obsession in literature and love, and the places that obsession can lead.
4) The Midwich Cuckoos – John Wyndham
An old one. Clever in its simplicity. Spooky and unnerving. There are many different covers for this book, but this one is my favourite by far.
In the sleepy English village of Midwich, a mysterious silver object appears and all the inhabitants fall unconscious. A day later the object is gone and everyone awakens unharmed – except that all the women in the village are discovered to be pregnant.
The resultant children of Midwich do not belong to their parents: all are blonde, all are golden eyed. They grow up too fast and their minds exhibit frightening abilities that give them control over others and brings them into conflict with the villagers just as a chilling realisation dawns on the world outside . . .
5) The Deviants – CJ Skuse
Oooo…atmospheric and chilling. The dead roses in black and white next to the live, red one. Eerie…
Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane.
The Fearless Five, inseparable as children growing up in a sleepy English seaside town. But when Max’s older sister is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.
Only Max and Ella are in touch, still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. But Ella is hiding things – like why she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level. And when underdog Corey is bullied, the Fearless Five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them.
But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?
6) Where The Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak
The whole book is beautifully illustrated but the cover is simply stunning and gives a wonderful hint of what’s to come inside…
One night Max puts on his wolf suit and makes mischief of one kind and another, so his mother calls him ‘Wild Thing’ and sends him to bed without his supper. That night a forest begins to grow in Max’s room and an ocean rushes by with a boat to take Max to the place where the wild things are. Max tames the wild things and crowns himself as their king, and then the wild rumpus begins. But when Max has sent the monsters to bed, and everything is quiet, he starts to feel lonely and realises it is time to sail home to the place where someone loves him best of all.
I’ve limited myself to six, but that was hard! There are so many truly stunning covers out there! I’d be interested to hear what other people’s are.
Kerry Drewery is the YA author of the Cell 7 trilogy and other books. The final in the trilogy is out next January.