Today is not such a happy occasion. Today I've decided to showcase the first in a series I'll call Cover Disasters. And this particular disaster is fairly poignant. It concerns a book called Cross My Heart, by Sasha Gould. Here's the synopsis from Goodreads:
Venice, 1585.Now first of all, let me just hazard a guess that "Cross My Heart" was not the working title of this novel, given that the author had to do so much historical research to write about Venice in 1585. I'll bet you a hundred dollars that the working title didn't seem "catchy" enough to somebody, so a committee came up with this. While the expression "cross my heart" probably originated with the Catholic sign of the cross, the earliest reference to the phrase that I could find online is from 1908. I may be wrong, but it just doesn't sound four hundred years old to me. And it also sounds too young—like middle-grade.
When 16-year-old Laura della Scala learns that her older sister, Beatrice, has drowned, she is given no time to grieve. Instead, Laura's father removes her from the convent where he forcibly sent her years earlier and orders her to marry Beatrice's fiancé, a repulsive old merchant named Vincenzo. Panicked, Laura betrays a powerful man to earn her way into the Segreta, a shadowy society of women who deal in only one currency—secrets. The Segreta seems like the answer to Laura's prayers. The day after she joins their ranks, Vincenzo is publicly humiliated and conveniently exiled. Soon, however, Laura begins to suspect that her sister's death was not a tragic accident but a cold-blooded murder—one that might involve the Segreta and the women she has come to trust.
Anyway, the advance-reader cover of Cross My Heart was this lovely thing:
It almost looks like a painting, doesn't it? It's perfect, really: it says "historical fiction" right away; it indicates it's a serious read, not fluff; it shows Venice in the print on her dress (so cool); and it has that delightful pop of red in her earring, mirrored in the author's name. Kudos to the book designer, wherever you are.
Now, I imagine someone with no taste and a lot of authority said, "But it's too quiet! It's too adult!" and Random House decided to re-boot the design for the hardcover. This is what they came up with:
But things get worse. Someone at Puffin decided the glittery-masked woman above was just too focused (even with her mouth open), and that the cover was too dark for a book that features...er, a shadowy society of women that exchanges murderous favors for secrets?...so they created this paperback version:
In a future post I'm going to talk about what the heck is going on with these sorts of bait-and-switch covers, and about whether there's any marketing justification at all for designing a jacket that does not accurately reflect the content of the novel.
But for now, I'll just quietly fume about how far we got from that first lovely ARC cover design.