The Cover Wars

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

Janet: I love how this cover takes the old-fashioned embossed look and gives it a twist by using embroidery instead. Mind you, machine-stitched embroidery is not quite as lovely as handwork, but even so, this is a magnificent cover. I am completely sold.

Nafiza: I think this is the first time I’ve heard Janet be so affectionate of a cover. Colour me amazed but it is a work of beauty. I’m in as well.

Yash: I never imagined thorns could look so pretty embroidered. And hey, it’s been a while since I’ve read a fantasy short story collection. I’m especially intrigued by the gingerbread golem. I hope she got that one right. (I imagine she did?) Plus, I mean, it’s Leigh Bardugo. I’m in the middle of re-listening to Crooked Kingdom, so I think I am physically incapable of saying no to any possibility that I might see the crows again.

Small-batch independent yarn dyer Clara Ziegler is eager to brainstorm new color combinations–if only she could come up with ideas she likes as much as last time! When she sees Danielle Solomon’s paintings of Florida wildlife by chance at a neighborhood gallery, she finds her source of inspiration. Outspoken, passionate, and complicated, Danielle herself soon proves even more captivating than her artwork…

Fluffy Jewish f/f contemporary set in the author’s childhood home of South Florida.

Janet: Girls! With different body types! Kissing! And a cat! A small-businesswoman and artists and dye and thread and paint – sign me up! Truthfully, though, even if the cover and synopsis had been complete disasters I would still want to pick this up because Shira Glassman writes the sweetest queer love stories around.

Nafiza: I think this book hits all the sweet spots. The colours are bright, the art is cute, and the back copy intriguing. Bring it on.

Yash: SHIRA! CUTE GIRLS! KITTY! Also, the best green ever. Yes. I’m in. <3

Walking his dog at dusk, one boy catches glimpses of the lives around him in this lovely ode to autumn evenings, exploring your neighborhood, and coming home.

Before your city goes to sleep, you might head out for a walk, your dog at your side as you go out the door and into the almost-night. Anything can happen on such a walk: you might pass a cat, or a friend, or even an early raccoon. And as you go down your street and around the corner, the windows around you light up one by one until you are walking through a maze of paper lanterns, each one granting you a brief, glowing snapshot of your neighbors as families come together and folks settle in for the night. With a setting that feels both specific and universal and a story full of homages to The Snowy Day, Julia Denos and E. B. Goodale have created a singular book — at once about the idea of home and the magic of curiosity, but also about how a sense of safety and belonging is something to which every child is entitled.

Janet: This looks beautiful. I’ll have to hunt this up. Can’t wait to read Jane’s review!

Nafiza: There’s something so poignant about that last sentence. The sense of safety and belonging is something to which every child is entitled but as current events illustrate, this belonging and something is quickly becoming a luxury, a privilege if you will. The cover is gorgeous and the back copy sweet. Definitely looking forward to Jane’s review of this one.

Yash: Dang, I’m with Nafiza. That last line got me good. As for the cover, where to begin? I love the title and how your eyes immediately fall on the illuminated windows on cover after reading Windows. I love the happy dog and the red hoodie and the kid’s tiny smile. Just so many lovely details to fawn over. I’d love a copy of this one.

“There are three things that earn you a man’s name among the Jan’Tep. The first is to demonstrate the strength to defend your family. The second is to prove you can perform the high magic that defines our people. The third is surviving your fourteenth year. I was a few weeks shy of my birthday when I learned that I wouldn’t be doing any of those things.”

Kellen’s dreams of becoming a powerful mage like his father are shattered after a failed magical duel results in the complete loss of his abilities. When other young mages begin to suffer the same fate, Kellen is accused of unleashing a magical curse on his own clan and is forced to flee with the help of a mysterious foreign woman who may in fact be a spy in service to an enemy country. Unsure of who to trust, Kellen struggles to learn how to survive in a dangerous world without his magic even as he seeks out the true source of the curse. But when Kellen uncovers a conspiracy hatched by members of his own clan seeking to take power, he races back to his city in a desperate bid to outwit the mages arrayed against him before they can destroy his family.

Spellslinger is heroic fantasy with a western flavour.

Janet: The cover is eye-catching. The art style and that shade of red are not my thing, but they certainly convey a taste of the narrative. This looks like a fast-paced adventure, but Traitor’s Blade left a bad taste in my mouth, so I will pass.

Nafiza: The cover is certainly arresting and the back copy is interesting. But I am much more interested in reading female protagonists having great adventures.

Yash: I really like this cover and title. I think it’s just so clever, using a card-style illustration. It absolutely gets across the fact that this is a Western and also a fantasy. Though, I kind of wish they didn’t use a stark white for the background. (With the black and red, the white is just too bold.) I also appreciate that there is no mention of romance? And if there’s a surprise romance, I hope it’s surprising in other ways too. I think I’d be into this. I’d probably wait for some advance reviews, but I’m interested. My one concern is that this doesn’t turn into a “Cowboys and Indians” type thing and if it does, how well can I expect the author to deal with it?

Just beyond the Gilded Age, in the mist-covered streets of New York, the deadly Spanish influenza ripples through the city. But with so many victims in her close circle, young socialite Allene questions if the flu is really to blame. All appear to have been poisoned—and every death was accompanied by a mysterious note.

Desperate for answers and dreading her own engagement to a wealthy gentleman, Allene returns to her passion for scientific discovery and recruits her long-lost friends, Jasper and Birdie, for help. The investigation brings her closer to Jasper, an apprentice medical examiner at Bellevue Hospital who still holds her heart, and offers the delicate Birdie a last-ditch chance to find a safe haven before her fragile health fails.

As more of their friends and family die, alliances shift, lives become entangled, and the three begin to suspect everyone—even each other. As they race to find the culprit, Allene, Birdie, and Jasper must once again trust each other, before one of them becomes the next victim.

Janet: The cover is, though not remarkable, pretty. Wait – is that pattern meant to represent the decade and fashionable wallpaper? Then I take back the “unremarkable” comment. Very pretty. The blurb gives too much away (is this aimed at adults?) but I could be persuaded if I hear good reviews.

Nafiza: The cover is gorgeous but the back copy is a little clunky. I wish it didn’t tell so many things as I would have liked to discover them for myself. Still, I like Lydia’s writing and will certainly be giving this one a go.

Yash: Art deco font is totally the way to get my attention. I also love the perfume bottle and I think it works well with the title and back copy. Yep, I’d like this on my shelf, thanks.

We sat at the edge of the ocean—my sister Henri and I—inches apart but not touching at all. We’d been so sure someone would find us by now.

Emma had always orbited Henri, her fierce, magnetic queen bee of an older sister, and the two had always been best friends. Until something happened that wrecked them.

I’d trusted Henri more than I’d trusted myself. Wherever she told me to go, I’d follow.

Then the unthinkable occurs—a watery nightmare off the dazzling coast. The girls wash up on shore, stranded. Their only companion is Alex, a troubled boy agonizing over his own secrets. Trapped in this gorgeous hell, Emma and Alex fall together as Emma and Henri fall catastrophically apart.

For the first time, I was afraid we’d die on this shore.

To find their way home, the sisters must find their way back to each other. But there’s no map for this—or anything. Can they survive the unearthing of the past and the upheaval of the present?

Janet: The cover, almost lurid with colour and contrast, does the narrative no favours. The blurb uses overwrought adjectives in almost every sentence. Nope.

Nafiza: The cover is gorgeous. I can’t resist things with flowers on it but I don’t know about the back copy. I’ll have to read some reviews before deciding.

Yash: Eh. Not for me. But I admit this cover is beautiful. And the title is perfect for a (possibly feminist?) “stranded on an island” story. It’s just a very well-thought-out design. Good on whoever worked on this one.