Thursday, 29 September 2011

Compare the Covers: Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley

I know a lot of other blogs do cover comparisons, but I thought there was still room for me to discuss covers that have caught my eye (after all, hundreds of blogs review books and still, here I am). I really am a lover of cover art and I actually considered first writing a blog that focused solely on covers, before deciding on a review blog. 

Anyway, in this post I want to look at and compare the UK and US covers for Queen of Kings by Maria Dahvana Headley, which I added to my wishlist last weekend.

UK cover                                                                                US cover
These covers are so different, aren't they? It's hard to believe they are for the same book. Although it says 'a novel', on looks alone, the US cover gives the impression that it is a biography of Cleopatra, or at least, a solely historical novel. The cover gives no indication of the horror/fantasy element of the book at all. I do find the US cover to be really pretty, though: It looks like a Chanel No. 5 ad. I especially like the image of Cleopatra - her make-up and jewellery are in colour, but she herself is in black-and-white. And you might not be able to see it in the photo above, but there are tiny lines in her skin, like she is made from cracked marble.

The UK cover looks much more like a fantasy cover and in case there was any doubt, the fact that it's blurbed by Neil Gaiman lets you know what audience it's aimed at. This cover is very striking and I would definitely notice it if I walked past it in a bookshop. However, I think it teeters on the line between 'striking' and 'garish'. The colours are so bright and the cover is so busy. As if all that writing crammed into the bottom half isn't enough, there are also the Egyptian hieroglyphs covering Cleopatra's hair. From the reviews I've read, it looks like this cover doesn't really capture the book, either. It looks quite campy and, although the idea of Cleopatra as a vampire seems like a joke, from all reports Maria Dahvana Headley treats the subject seriously and has aimed to be as historical accurate as possible. Also, in the battle of the models dressed as Cleopatra, the UK one looks a little more 'cheap Halloween costume' than the US one does.

In an ideal world, I'd take the single blood tear from the UK cover and put it on the US Cleopatra and voila! Perfect cover.

What do you think?


  1. I love looking at covers from different countries and seeing how they compare. This is a great post. I'd like to see more "Compare the Cover" posts if this is something you're interested in doing.

    I think the US cover is prettier than the UK one, but I agree that it makes the book look like a biography, so I probably would never have looked into it since biographies aren't my thing. I never would have guessed it was a fantasy novel about Cleo as a vampire just by looking at the cover. The woman on the UK cover is wearing too much makeup and looks way too pale to me. I think the blood teardrop and the hieroglyphs are great, though.

    I never heard of this book before but it sounds really interesting. I'm going to have to check it.

  2. Kayla - Thanks so much. I love looking at covers, too and will definitely do more posts like this.


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