If there’s one cliché that I hate it’s ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’. I applaud the sentiment, but the metaphor just doesn’t work. There are so many wonderful books out there and one of the few means readers have to decide which to read next is by being superficial. On reflection, I’d say that my criteria for choosing which book to read, buy or borrow are:
1. Author (only relevant for authors I’ve loved in the past)
3. Recommendation (from any source, though tried and trusted are of course better)
5. Blurb (unlikely to read this unless one of the first four criteria have been met)
6. First paragraph (just to check if I’m not convinced by 2-5; it’s important though, I need a strong incentive to read anything in the present tense)
The reason I’ve been thinking about this is because, after being wowed by ‘The Night Circus’, I found myself unable to resist Kirsty Logan’s debut novel, ‘The Gracekeepers’.
I think the cover is lovely (it’s been pointed out to me that I’m a sucker for illustrations of characters with curly hair). It’s mystical and stylish and, following ‘The Night Circus’, I felt completely up for the fantasy animal element. The sparkling stars suggest hope, but the night sky implies a good Gothic tone. The girl’s dress is red, so things should be exciting and sensual, and the ridiculously small boat makes me think of nursery rhymes, another big plus. I also love the way the sea is drawn, it has a surface shine, but also transparent depths, hinting at intriguing layers and concealment.
In the end, I found the book more of a ‘Dr Norris and Mr Strange’ than Erin Morgenstern’s novel. This is a polite way of saying that I didn’t love it, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work for others; I’ll leave it to them to write the reviews. I still love the cover though, and it’s thanks to this book that I discovered virginbooksdesign blog. This contains, among other things, a wonderful post showing the sketches behind the final cover image. It also means that, in the future, I can hopefully get my fix of great book designs without having to do the reading unless other, less superficial, criteria for book choices are met!