I judged a book by its cover


I can’t tell you how guilty I feel saying that, but that’s exactly what I did. The title was on NetGalley, and an urban fantasy title.

The cover was gorgeous – dark and atmospheric, with two guys and a female on the front. They were in what looked to be a graveyard, and every element together spoke to me of an exciting, fast-paced story with danger and intrigue. I was ready for something like that, especially by an author I hadn’t read before.

Then I started reading and thirteen chapters in, the story had barely got started and there was no hint of anything the cover had, including one of the guys on the cover. In fact, I thought it deserved a genteel cover, probably with people having tea, for the book took its time setting up a very casual but refined world. People walked their dogs while pondering supernatural elements, and had the time to go to the theatre and get their houses redone … there was just no excitement to the story or a beginning of the main story.

So, I gave up. Somewhere, a book fairy just lost its wings, I swear.

Then I got to thinking about it – the author was taking a lot of care to set up the world in the book. It’s the first in what looks to be a series, so right there, I think an author deserves some sort of leeway in terms of pacing and setting things up. The author was also taking great care to set up the place in which the story occurs – the town, its people and the feel of the inhabitants, and not to mention, the main characters and their powers.

Right about then, the guilt set in, until the number 13 loomed large before me.

I couldn’t quite get past the pacing issues. It felt like the author wanted to do too much worldbuilding up front, before the main case/story started. That was the reason I picked up this book and it just got lost in exposition. This was exacerbated by the fact that the main character had a power that slowed the pacing down considerably – a passive power that called for her to go into a trance where she experienced visions. The power has such potential, but accompanied by the other pacing issues I found myself skimming those sections only.

I think it’s convention in the urban fantasy genre to have dark and dire covers, with leather clad individuals, and perhaps it fits towards the end of this book… but seriously, it just didn’t work for what I read of it.


I’m not the only one tired of covers reflecting stereotypes of genres. Look at this cover of Deadlock – when I first saw it, I thought the book was a story involving a girl who was going through an emotional drama like dying. That long stare into the distance, in a forest. I really did think she was fighting a deadly illness and this book was about her coming to terms about it. And then I read the small text at the top of the cover and realised she was a secret agent. At which point I just about fell down laughing at the laziness in putting together this cover, not to mention that the publisher is lumping all girls together until the genre of: romance.

Girls think about more than just romance – why is that such a hard concept for publishers to come to terms with?

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