The Cover Wars: Asexual Protagonists part 1

Here on the Book Wars’ own Cover Wars, we judge books by their covers: front and back, art and blurb. The Cover Wars has a theme this month: books with ace (asexual) protagonists. Some of these characters are aro (aromantic); others are not.


[webcomic by Emily Griggs. Book 1 (of 3) is complete as of August 2017. #ownvoices]

It’s 1852, and Clara Adams has had her future planned out for her: find and marry a proper young man, then settle in for a life of quiet obedience and domestic bliss. She’s resigned to her fate, until a bout of curiosity leads to her untimely murder, and resurrection, at the hands of monsters that she’d never dreamed might be more than fictional. Death brings Clara unexpected freedom, along with new dangers and the sudden weight of responsibility. Thrust into unlife with no way back, Clara has to learn quickly, for her unique gift might tip the scales in the secret war against her murderer for control of all London!

Heartless is an action/adventure comic set in early Victorian London. It’s about vampires, self-discovery, more vampires, the struggle against oppression, and very pretty dresses. [x]

Janet: If the cover hadn’t swayed me, contrasting as it does the Gothic novel-style innocent heroine with her red eyes and bloodied sword, the back certainly would. Emily Griggs 110% knows how to write a blurb. I liked Clara and her friends & foes immensely and can’t wait to read books two and three. (Note: book 1 is 72-ish pages long. Reading is not a Gunnerkrigg Court-length time commitment.)

Nafiza: I am not that big of a fan of the cover but the synopsis sucked me in. Must find and read.

[Wayward Children #1. #ownvoices]

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children
No Solicitations
No Visitors
No Quests

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else.

But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world.

But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of the matter.

No matter the cost.

Janet: Still not over this cover. It is so perfectly beautiful and suited to the story. I like that the back copy suggests how thoroughly tension and danger pervade the school. (Reviewed here.)

Nafiza: I like this cover fine. I just wasn’t too much into the book.

[Abhorsen #4 / Prequel to Sabriel]

Sixteen-year-old Clariel is not adjusting well to her new life in the city of Belisaere, the capital of the Old Kingdom. She misses roaming freely within the forests of Estwael, and she feels trapped within the stone city walls. And in Belisaere she is forced to follow the plans, plots and demands of everyone, from her parents to her maid, to the sinister Guildmaster Kilp. Clariel can see her freedom slipping away. It seems too that the city itself is descending into chaos, as the ancient rules binding Abhorsen, King and Clayr appear to be disintegrating.

With the discovery of a dangerous Free Magic creature loose in the city, Clariel is given the chance both to prove her worth and make her escape. But events spin rapidly out of control. Clariel finds herself more trapped than ever, until help comes from an unlikely source. But the help comes at a terrible cost. Clariel must question the motivations and secret hearts of everyone around her – and it is herself she must question most of all.

Janet: I don’t love either cover, but both have something to recommend them. The first gives a sense of the scale of the troubles: not only Clariel but Belisaere and the Old Kingdom are in difficulties. The image positioning also suggests isolation, and casts Clariel and the dragon as shadows foregrounding the city. On the other hand, the dragon scene doesn’t play out quite like that (uh, spoiler?), and part of the whole point of the story is that Clariel is not the calm, long-dress-wearing young woman she seems to be here. The second cover shows Clariel in action with gloves and blade. I admire how the colouring of her face suggests a mask, while the detail suggests this is her skin – very fitting! She is a single figure seen at close range, however, which gives a new reader little sense of the story as a whole or of Clariel’s context. The back copy is pretty accurate.

Nafiza: I looove the first cover. Especially for the dragon kinda creature who turned out rather sinister and no, this is not a spoiler. I didn’t like the book as much as I thought I would but I still liked it enough.

Princess Lasva is about to be named heir to her childless sister, the queen. But, when the queen finally bears an heir, Lasva’s future is shattered. Grief-stricken, she leaves her country of Colend and falls into the arms of Prince Ivandred of Marloven Hesea. His people are utterly different-with their expertise in riding, weaponry, and magic- and the two soon marry.

When the sensational news makes its way to Lasva’s sister, the queen worries for Lasva at the hands of the Marlovens, whose king’s mage is in league with the magical land of Norsunder-considered by Colendi to be their enemy. The queen orders Emras, a scribe, to guard Lasva.

But it may be too late-Lasva is already deeply involved with the Marlovens and their magic. War wages on, and all are forced to redefine love, loyalty, and power…

Janet: Ha. I cheated. This isn’t YA; on the other hand, if teens read unending series comprised of tomes (*coughWheelofTimecoughGameofThronescough*), there’s no reason they wouldn’t pick up this single, if thick, self-contained book. The cover and back are – interesting, in that they posit Lasva and Ivandred as the central characters, when in fact Esdras is protagonist and narrator. On the other hand, this decentralization of self is part of Esdras’ character and training, so that a front and back cover that mention her only marginally is very, very apt. That said, I don’t love back or front cover – but I did like reading about Emras.

Nafiza: That cover though >.< But I like Sherwood Smith’s books so I will probably like this one. Now to find time to actually find it and read it.

After a shout-out from one of the Internet’s superstar vloggers, Natasha “Tash” Zelenka finds herself and her obscure, amateur web series, Unhappy Families, thrust into the limelight: She’s gone viral.

Her show is a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina—written by Tash’s literary love Count Lev Nikolayevich “Leo” Tolstoy. Tash is a fan of the forty thousand new subscribers, their gushing tweets, and flashy Tumblr GIFs. Not so much the pressure to deliver the best web series ever.

And when Unhappy Families is nominated for a Golden Tuba award, Tash’s cyber-flirtation with Thom Causer, a fellow award nominee, suddenly has the potential to become something IRL—if she can figure out how to tell said crush that she’s romantic asexual.

Tash wants to enjoy her newfound fame, but will she lose her friends in her rise to the top? What would Tolstoy do?

Janet: The cover grabs my attention but wouldn’t make me pick it up if I hadn’t recognized the author’s name and previously heard that the protagonist was ace. The back copy could do with more of Tash’s best friends, since a) best friends, and b) they’re both involved in Unhappy Families.

Nafiza: Kath’s wordsmithery is such that I have had this on my TBR for a while now. I just need to find to pick it up.