Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Candidate for Worse Cover Ever

Okay, apparently this is for real? I literally thought it couldn’t be a real cover when Sandstone posted this on Twitter this morning. Take a look:

Have any of you — all of you — read this? Here is the original cover:

Let me provide the Amazon description of this book to you, if you aren’t familiar with it:

Plagued by guilt for failing to protect her king, Rider Wren has fled the city of Gilengaria and given herself the penance of a life of wandering, helping strangers in need. But when chance brings her to the great estate known as Fortune, Wren will find her fate, and finally confront the ghosts of her past.

Quite accurate. Let me add:

a) This is a really great book! The “fifth in a series,” this book actually stands alone just fine and is my favorite in the series. Highly recommended.

b) One of the greatest low-key romances I know of in all of fantasy.

c) Features some of Sharon Shinn’s best writing, including a lovely, possibly flawless ending.

d) Includes no jack-o-lanterns

e) Not the slightest hint of Halloween

f) Not in any way connected to anything remotely similar to Halloween

g) Not a horror novel

h) No, really, not the faintest echo of horror at any point

That cover! I can’t believe it!

Let me type “fantasy” into the search bar at Unsplash, a website that makes photos available for free. Okay, here is the very first photo that pops up in response to that search:

This castle is a thousand times more appropriate for Fortune and Fate than that jack-o-lantern cover! It’s all wrong, sure, but at least there is an important big manor house in the novel. A big manor house is sort of reminiscent of a castle. The concept “manor house” and “castle” are in the same general category!

There is not only no connection whatsoever between the story and that jack-o-lantern cover, there is actually an anti-connection! The cover is so extraordinarily misleading that throwing a dart at fantasy covers and picking one at random was truly three orders of magnitude — at least — better than that jack-o-lantern cover!

This is such a bad cover it would be funny, except that it really isn’t funny. What a terrible thing to do to a good author and an excellent book!

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8 Comments Candidate for Worse Cover Ever

  1. Craig N.

    My best bad cover story (which Rachel has heard before) is for the Carl Lundgren cover of Heinlein’s _Stranger in a Strange Land_. Doing a quick image search, you can see it on this page, kind of in the middle:

    https://www.rafeeqmcgiveron.com/heinlein-cover-art.html

    It is in itself a perfectly good cover for the book, with elements from the book put in an appropriate symbolic context.

    My hand to God: I have seen with my own eyes a German-language paperback which used this cover, not for a Heinlein book, but for a translation of _The Best of Cordwainer Smith._

  2. Kootch

    Rachel, I totally agree with you. It’s been a long time since I read this book but I’m sure there is no connection to a jack o’ lantern anywhere. Wren is such a good character and I loved her story.

  3. Elaine T

    THat’s not just a jack o’lantern, it looks like it is made of ice, so it’s signaling winter, cold… etc. i read the book a long time ago and didn’t keep it. Does the snowy imagery fit either?

    Honestly I’d expect a horror novel with a nasty ice-jack o’lantern antagonist from that cover.

  4. Rachel

    Nope. It’s not even winter. There are literally ZERO elements of this cover that correspond to anything whatsoever in the story!

  5. Hanneke

    One good result of the stupid cover: you talked about it here, which made me decide to buy and read the book. I liked it and am now going to get the rest of the series.
    Not bad, for a cover that really has nothing to do with the book it’s on!

  6. Rachel

    Good point, Hanneke! In that one isolated way, the Worst Cover in the World may be a benefit to a book.

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