The Cover Wars: Fairy Tales

So, we’re taking turns picking covers to judge now! Last week was all Jane and her love for picturebooks and this week is all fairy tales, er, mostly because I couldn’t pick a theme. — Y

In 2009, a trove of lost fairy tales collected by Franz Xaver von Schönwerth – a 19th-century collector of Bavarian folk tales and contemporary of the Brothers Grimm- was unearthed in a municipal archive in Germany.

Unlike the Grimms, who polished the stories they collected, adapting to contemporary tastes, von Schönwerth recorded the stories as they were told, plucking them directly from the living, breathing tree of oral storytelling, retaining their darker themes and sometimes shocking violence. Von Schönwerth published a single volume of these tales in his lifetime, but the vast majority languished and were forgotten over the years, effectively frozen in time until their recent rediscovery. Now, award-winning illustrator Willow Dawson, in collaboration with translator Shelley Tanaka, has brought these long-lost tales unforgettably to life, illuminating with striking woodcut-style illustrations a spectacular collection that will change the way you look at fairy tales forever. — [X]

Jane: Oooooooh. Wow, this sounds fascinating! I love woodcut-style illustrations, they just seem to match folk and fairy tales so naturally. I also really like the idea of darker fairy tales, authentic and unadapted, recorded as they were originally told. These sound really fascinating.

Janet: I’m not entirely sure I want to read this – fairy tales are terrifying! They’re also really hard to put down, even the strangest and cruelest. The cover is striking.

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. — [X]

Jane: Ooooh, more dark and eery fairy tales, my personal favourites. Take that, Disney, and your boring take on fairy tales! This cover is attractive, and it seems to match well with the theme of the collection, but to be honest it does look like so many other book covers I’ve seen recently, thorns and vines seem to be a bit of a trend these days.

Janet: We’ve seen this before. Definitely tbr. The embroidery-style art is gorgeous. Plus, Leigh Bardugo.

A wife refuses her husband’s entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store’s prom dresses. One woman’s surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella Especially Heinous, Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.

Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction. — [X]

Jane: We’re going so dark this week!! It makes sense, of course – so many traditional fairy and folk tales were dark, cautionary tales. I feel like I’m familiar with the first story mentioned in the blurb, but the rest of the tales sound like modern interpretations of classic fairy tale themes. This sounds dark, dark, dark, but also fascinating.

Janet: The cover is hugely foreboding, which perfectly matches the back. This is not for me, but cover and back copy do a great job of putting together a cohesive feel to this book.

On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy. The city is called Asteri, a perfect city saved by the magic woven into its walls when a devastating plague swept through the world years before. The forest is called the Barrow, a vast wood of ancient trees that encircles the city and feeds the earth with magic. And the boy is called Oscar, a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the Barrow, who spends his days in the dark cellar of his master’s shop grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island. Oscar’s world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in it.

But it’s been a long time since anyone who could call himself a wizard walked the world, and now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill; something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the trees will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it. — [X]

Jane: I’m getting hints of Pinocchio? And maybe the Sorcerer’s Apprentice? I like this cover, it has a magical quality to it, with the contrast between the dark exterior and the warm, golden light through the door. And cats! Cats make every cover automatically better. 😀

Janet: The cover plays with warm and cool tones, drawing the eye — and the reader in — to that door and the story. I’ve heard good things about this book.

On lonely highways, giants lurk along roads and ghosts linger in rest stops. A deadly fire meets its grave in the green bay, where love blooms between a woman and a spirit in the water. Forgotten shores and talk of snake mountain, voices from the past and a train ride with the Jersey Devil … Personal folklore, local legends, and reimagined stories all come together in one exciting, new visual anthology. — [X]

Jane: So, this appeals to my love of shows like Fringe and The X-Files – I just love urban legends and folklore and mysterious happenings, and things that go bump in the night. The cover is quite curious – it’s a juxtaposition between a colourful, pastoral scene, and some spooky elements that don’t seem to fit in. I like it!

Janet: Striking cover, all angles, almost Escher gone warm-hued. The font reminds me of high school short stories anthologies, which is slightly off-putting, but the back copy is appealing. Unusually, there is no list of author/artist names.