Non-literal Book Covers: Mortality

Mortality Book Cover Art

As I’ve posted before, I’m not a fan of super-accurate, extremely literal covers. As a reader, they don’t necessarily draw me in, and as an artist I find it difficult to retain the utmost level of creativity when trying to portrary characters exactly in a precise replica of a scene. Mortality by Kellie Sheridan has always been one of my favourite covers, in part down to Kellie’s original vision for the cover (duality, girl/zombie reflection) and willingness to have a very subjective cover. It’s a very good book which I enjoyed enormously (even though the end really threw me for a loop) and it’s been getting great reviews.

One of the most recent reviews really described exactly what we were going for in the cover, and why a subjective cover can be a lot more powerful than a more literal one. Dani of Refracted Light writes a great review of the book, and had this to say about the cover:

I’d like to imagine that I’m above being influenced by a pretty, pretty, oh-so-pretty cover, but the truth is, I’m not. I’m susceptible to awesome, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Truthfully, upon spying this cover in my inbox for a cover reveal this past December, I just knew I had to read it based on the cover alone. (Because that always ends well, right? But…) What does the cover mean? Are these two separate girls? The same girl? Is it a literal representation of a character(s) or is figuratively showing the duality of an individual? Is it more complicated than that? I had to know.

FYI, I’m not giving you any answers in regard to those questions, but justsoyaknow, in relation to the story, the cover is pretty brilliant, and even better, the story between the covers lives up to the pretty. Er. Kinda. I mean zombie stories aren’t pretty…but I think you get my drift.

All of my favourite covers have had that exact effect on me. What does it mean? It’s pretty, and I’m drawn to that…but what does it mean? A cover has to clearly communicate genre and the main themes of the book in order to prevent readers from being unfairly disappointed, misled or confused. But they should leave room for magic as well – it should make you feel something rather than just conveying what colour hair and eyes the character has and what she wears. Who cares? What I want to know is how she feels, or how she is changed by the events in the book.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that the cover should convey one of the main themes of the book without spelling it out. It should entice and intrigue. It should be a mystery that the potential reader has to answer by buying the book.

5 thoughts on “Non-literal Book Covers: Mortality”

  1. Oh wow! Thanks so much for including me in your post! (How cool! <– dorky fistpump) And a gigantic "YES. Exactly that!" to everything you've said here. I also love intriguingly, beautifully mysterious book covers, but what I really love is after finishing the book, going back to the cover and having a "AHA!" moment — noticing how things fit together or details I might have missed. And I had that with Mortality… so thank you for that! :)

  2. I adore this cover! And I actually really agree with you. I think in the past I’ve tried to be a bit too literal when I’ve asked you for book covers… so from now, Ravven. Feel free to be more ‘magical’ if you know what I mean!!

  3. Thank you Dani for an excellent review (I loved the book!) and nice words about the cover as well.

    And Suzy, I think you and I have done some very wonderful covers – I love working with you! You strike the perfect balance between the two, actually.

  4. This cover is amazing! And I love the point you bring up about subjective covers being more creative and more appealing to readers… And I agree with pretty much everything else you mentioned about genre. I’m definitely a fan! Thanks to Patricia Eddy for pointing me in your direction. :)

  5. Thank you, Traci! I hadn’t read the book when I did the cover and even I had an “ah-ha” moment after finishing it! For me, that is the beauty, and the power, of this type of cover. I would MUCH rather say “Ah, so that’s what that meant!” than “Yup, she did have red hair and a pert nose.” :D

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