One good thing about books having wildly different covers in different countries, is it makes me curious about a book that I wasn't so curious about before. Neither the title or the cover of the US edition of The Book of Blood and Shadow had really attracted me, so I didn't read the synopsis. Until, that is, I was browsing a bookshop here in the UK and saw a title that looked familiar, but a cover that totally wasn't. It made me wonder: which country did it best? Which cover is most fitting for the story?
Before I started writing this post, I would've picked the UK cover on the left as my preferred one. That was because I couldn't see the eye. So my apologies, because at first glance the US cover looks bland, but if you study it, you begin to see it's actually the coolest thing ever. OK, maybe not ever, but still. The looming black castle as the pupil, set against the purple and pink sunset as the iris of the eye - it's a very striking image and it's a shame that it's not more prominent, but then considering the book is about unearthing secrets, perhaps it's fitting that you have to look for it. The title of the book projected over the model's face is also a great visual touch; projectors make me think of characters pouring over old records and manuscripts in the back room of a library and I'm willing to bet, as the main character in The Book of Blood and Shadow interns with an eccentric professor, that she does plenty of that. So I've done a complete 180 from my first impression of the US cover and now I really appreciate it. It's interesting and it seems to fit the book. The only thing I'm not feeling is the author's name at the bottom - I wish the book designer had found a way for Robin Wasserman's name to become part of the image in a cool way, too, but instead it's just...there.
The UK cover did catch my eye straightaway in a way that the US cover didn't. However, the UK cover doesn't stand up to closer inspection. I love the colours - purple and turquoise. I like the birds and the swirls of smoke. I like that we can see it's set in an old European city (I haven't been to Prague, so I can't say 100% that it is Prague, but it looks close enough) and the girl running gives a sense of urgency. And yet...it still looks like a chick-lit cover to me. She's running, but with the windswept hair, the bright purple jacket and the stylish knee-high boots, I can't help but feel that she's running so she won't be late for her date with the hot guy in marketing, rather than running to solve an ancient mystery. And the tagline (for some reason, UK publishers really like to add a tagline that spells out the plot of the book a little more for its readers): "One girl. One night." Um, is she going to prom? OK, "centuries of secrets" does indicate that it's something more serious.
To be honest, I think 'chick lit meets the Da Vinci Code' is probably what the UK publishers were going for. And I don't think that's a bad or even inaccurate thing and their cover is really pretty and definitely piqued my interest in the book. But in terms of which is the better image, I give the US book designers their due credit.