Monday, May 26, 2014

Spring YA Covers: Yes, dresses--but also swords and fire and blood, blood red

There was a time when you could tell a fantasy was “Young Adult” because the cover featured a one-word title and a gorgeous dress or exceptionally great hair. Nothing wrong with that, of course.  But today’s covers—dark, mysterious, sometimes explosive—offer a refreshing variety of images.

Not that designers don’t get messages from the great hive mind. This season (meaning January-June 2014), the message seems to have been “darkly mysterious blue,” alternating with “eye-popping red.” Anything to drag us across that bookstore, right?

Also there are badass heroines and heroes, swords, eyes compelling or threatening, fire, shadow, explosions—and marvelous dresses. Can’t wait to read these books!

“Young Adult” in this case means age 12 to 18. As always, if there’s a cover we’ve overlooked, please link to it in the comments.

Tell us which is your favorite, and why!

(Click the link below to see the covers)

Cool images catch the eye,

And complexities abound.

The Badass Brigade: 


And the occasional hovering beast

Young couples face fate

While the world blows apart

Or starts to cremate.

So bleak! Breaks our heart.

Oh, that blaze of blood-red.

That blue hue in the mirk.

Eyes fill us with dread . . .

And watch out for that dirk!

The shadows grow bolder.

Who knew feathers were eerie?

What's that over your shoulder?


Whoa, great dress, dearie!


Ellen Booraem's latest is TEXTING THE UNDERWORLD (Penguin/Dial, August 2013), the story of a scaredy-cat South Boston boy and a neophyte banshee.  Ellen also is the author of THE UNNAMEABLES and SMALL PERSONS WITH WINGS. She lives in Downeast Maine with an artist, a dog, and a cat, one of whom is a practicing curmudgeon. She's online at


  1. You have to click on the Cruel Beauty cover (one of the reds) to really appreciate it--amazing concept and execution. I'm also drawn to Plus One and the marvelous turtle/island (that's really in the book, I think!). But as usual it's hard to choose.

  2. So pretty! You're right, Ellen, Cruel Beauty has an amazing cover--sort of MC Escher-like. I also love the covers for Deep Blue and Bloodwitch.

  3. I love the look of 'The Mirk and Midnight Hour' - and all those blues, I could use sink into them. For drama, I love 'Half Bad' so simple and an amazing book, and 'Dorothy Must Die!" great title and again simply but dramatic! Thanks of a great post Lena - I always love to see the trends in new covers!

  4. So many fabulous covers! I'm reading Strange Sweet Song and I love it - and the Smasher cover really pulls me in, too. I love all of the mysterious, vivid covers. Thanks for the great post, Ellen!

  5. I'm glad you pointed me to click Cruel Beauty, that's marvelous.

  6. Great covers! Always enjoy the cover posts. Pleased to see I've read quite a few of these and adding more to my TBR list.

  7. I love these posts! Beautiful, and they really expose both cover and publishing trends. Plus I see books I've never heard of that I HAVE to read now!

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