Book Traveling Thursdays is a weekly meme for book bloggers which celebrates the distance a book travels by way of its covers. I’ve only recently discovered this meme thanks to the blog of the co-creator, Catia (the other being Danielle) and the Goodreads group, but I love the concept of it – particularly because it gives me the chance to see beautiful editions of books and develop some major cover envy.
This week’s theme is… Because some books have amazing villains choose a book with a character you love to hate! Whilst thinking long and hard about this, theme a quote from a particularly villainous character kept rearing its ugly head – “Fine. Make me your villain” – which I adore because I think it hints at a much more complex characterisation, and perhaps also how easily we denigrate people sometimes too easily as ‘villains’ in a way that makes the word itself lose some meaning and oompfh. Slightly philosophical musings aside, for that reason I’ve chosen to feature Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, specifically Shadow and Bone, and the Darkling who is set up as the villain of the piece.
For those who don’t know, Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone is a young-adult fantasy set in the world of Russian-inspired Ravka, a kingdom torn apart by the manifestation of darkness called the Shadow Fold which contains all manner of flesh-eating creepy monsters. Enter Alina Starkov, an orphan girl who must leave behind the regiment, her best friend Mal, and the life she knows, when a dormant power lurking within her explodes, catching the attention of the powerful but sinister figure known as the Darkling. Under his direction she is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite of Ravka. There she makes friends and enemies and is taught how to harness and channel her powers. Unsurprisingly, it is never that easy or simple, especially not with the Darkling’s involvement.
Now, onto the covers…
Original cover – US edition, published by Henry Holt and Co. (2012)
For once, I think the original cover design is actually quite possibly the best. If it aint broke, don’t fix it! It does a fantastic job of visually representing the key plot elements without spoiling anything in the book. The Russian setting is suggested by the silhouette of the building at the bottom which is reminiscent of the onion domes typical in Russian architecture such as The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg. Likewise, after reading the book, the relevance of the swirling branches (or perhaps antlers) becomes clearer – I love covers that hint at the story within like that!
Cover from my country – UK edition, published by Orion (2013) and Indigo (2012)
I’m not sure quite why but the UK paperback edition is basically the same as the US first edition but with the colour of the background changed to purple instead of grey/blue. I’m sure there’s some manner of complicated and/or aesthetic reason why but I think I actually prefer the US edition’s colour scheme! However, I have to say, I vastly prefer the current UK edition’s cover design to its original UK cover which featured not only my pet peeve on covers (the girl in a cloak facing away but turning to face ‘us’), but also was called The Gathering Dark, again for some specific reason I’m sure but I’m not aware of it. I think it was a good decision that they changed it, undoubtedly when the sequel was in progress, to make a more cohesive trilogy all around.
Favourite Cover – German edition, published by Carlsen Verlag (2012)
I’m actually a huge fan of the current UK/US editions of the entire trilogy because they represent visually the important elements of the narrative without giving anything away! However, I’ve done a bit of digging and found another cover which I like the concept of, if not the execution. This is a German edition of the cover which reminds me a lot of the cover design style of Amanda Sun’s Ink (a book I keep admiring on book hauls but haven’t actually looked into myself!). I like the artsy watercolour style of the artwork on this cover so much that I’ve even forgiven them for having the character appear on the front of the book! I think the text could be more cleverly incorporated though, which is why I like the concept but not the execution of this design.
Least Favourite Cover – Swedish edition, published by Gilla Böcker (2015)
This Swedish edition features the aforementioned pet peeve of people on book covers, but is perhaps even worse because it isn’t an artistic rendering of a person but a photograph. Although I appreciate that this version indicates the quite dark themes of the novel itself, I can’t get over the terribly trope-y cover of a mysteriously hooded and cloaked woman looking out from the cover with her face symbolically and oh so dramatically covered in half-shadow. In fact, I have yet to see a cover with a photograph of a person done beautifully, to be honest, and it leaves absolutely nothing to the imagination regarding the book’s characters.
So there we have it, my Book Travelling Thursday for 3rd March 2016. As always, I really enjoyed the chance to scrutinise some covers for a book I thoroughly enjoyed! What do you think of these covers? Which is your favourite?