I love a good book cover, because the artwork itself tells a story. Lately, I found a few covers that made me want to buy the given title right away, not even a question. The Horror by Randy Shaffer presents well with a cover containing elements of simplicity, subtlety, and composition considering the placement and style of the graphics on either end of the traditional “bloody hand-print” feature. The latest collection by Stephen Graham Jones titled After the People Lights Have Gone Off has a close-up of a dilapidated haunted house that well represents that realistic “next door” fear factor so popular lately, and for pure fun, there’s the woman with the look of shock on her face on the cover of Stephen King’s Joyland. Of course, there have been so many classic executions of cover-art through the years it would be impossible to give proper tribute in one little blog entry, but for giggles it might be fun to move past “horror” stuff for a moment, and give a shout-out to E.L. James for the eerie theater mask cover art for Fifty Shades Darker. Maybe it is not the most intricate artistic presentation, but considering the dynamics of the shadows and silvers, it makes one stop and say, “Hmm..what is this?”
On the other hand, book covers and genres can be deceiving, and in saying this I am not making the claim that I do not like the cover art for my latest novel, The Witch of the Wood. On the contrary, I admire the artist Hippocampus brought in to represent my character April Orr, the lovely shape-shifter coming on from our hidden past to execute her sweet revenge. It is colorful, unique, and most of all seems to contain a “wow” factor that makes the work attractive. In terms of genre, I similarly do not mean to deconstruct the horror category. I love horror. It interests me for any number of reasons, including the idea that one can alter timelines as well as put characters into bizarre situations that test their morals and resolve.
It is just that one can look at the cover of The Witch of the Wood, and assume any number of things the book is not, like “Witch-Porn,” or “Splatter-Farce.” I would hope that Witch is an absolute page turner with attractive characters drawing the reader into moment after moment of pleasurable amazement. The book is an exercise in chain reaction, one shock leading to the next, all with beautiful women along the way metaphorically winking at the male readers and pouting and raising their chins at the females. And as for “horror,” I do not quite know what that is at the moment. There are so many sub-genres that I am inclined to say that horror is the spice, the condiment, the accent behind a good story where interesting characters walk on the dark side.
So, what is your favorite cover for a book put out in the last decade? How about your favorite classic cover-art? Is there a cover you recall that advertised one thing, yet wound up yielding “different goods?” And finally, was what you found inside a dud or a pleasant surprise?
Michael Aronovitz published his first collection titled Seven Deadly Pleasures through Hippocampus Press in 2009. His first novel Alice Walks came out in a hardcover edition by Centipede Press in 2013, and Dark Renaissance Books published the paperback version in 2014. Aronovitz’s second collection, The Voices in Our Heads was published by Horrified Press in 2014, and the above featured novel, The Witch of the Wood, came out through Hippocampus Press recently. Aronovitz’s first young adult novel Becky’s Kiss will be appearing through Vinspire Press in the fall of 2015 and his third hard core adult horror novel titled Phantom Effect will be published by Night Shade Books in the fall of 2015. Michael Aronovitz is a college professor of English and lives with his wife and son in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. His website is michaelaronovitz.com.