Saturday, 31 May 2014

Cover Art - 'Gods of War' and 'The House of War and Witness'

Cover used to simply be something that I’d have a quick look at before opening the book and getting on to the story itself. I mean, no-one hands over hard earned cash just for the cover art do they? Do they?
Having been blogging for a while now (and read what other people think on the matter), cover art means a lot more to me than it ever did before. The work (and thought) that goes into something people might just look at for a second is astonishing, even if the results don’t always gel with me. Attention is paid to the smallest things in order to get you looking at a cover, for more than that one second, and I think that’s amazing.

I don’t really talk about fonts a lot, preferring instead to concentrate on the actual artwork, but I came across a couple of covers just recently where that little bit of detail made a bland/generic cover something a lot more. Have a look…  

At first glance, it looks like ‘Gods of War’ is just another WW1 novel with an aeroplane and a lot of cloud on the front. So far, so ordinary. Have a look at that font though with all its curls and stuff (no terminology here, there’s a reason why I don’t talk about this stuff much…) The slightly archaic style adds another layer of history to the cover and its lightness on the cover adds a sense of movement to the plane. I’m not sure that I’d read the book (love watching ‘Sherlock’ but have never really go on with the books) but I do like looking at the cover. Have a read through the blurb as well while you’re here…

1913. The clouds of war are gathering and Europe is in turmoil. A body is discovered on the shore below Beachy Head, just a mile from Sherlock Holmess retirement cottage. Suicide, or murder? As Holmes and Watson investigate, they uncover a conspiracy with shocking ramifications: men who welcome the idea of a world war are seeking divine aid to make it a reality.

‘The House of War and Witness’ is another one of those books with a cover that wouldn’t look out of place in a ‘3 for 2’ offer at WHSmiths or heavily reduced in price at Tescos. I can remember the days when supermarkets just sold food but that’s another story (and get off my lawn you pesky kids!) It’s a book that looks like any other historical novel then and that’s a shame because the blurb says that it’s anything but, I’ll show you that in a minute.
It’s curly whirly font time again though, sparingly used but to great effect. You know what you’re getting in a book when ‘war’ is highlighted on the cover and I like the way that the font deliberately contrasts with the one used for ‘witness’, suggesting two themes for the plot. I promised you the blurb and here it is,

In the year 1740, with the whole of Europe balanced on the brink of war, a company of Austrian soldiers is sent to the village of Narutsin to defend the border with Prussia. But what should be a routine posting is quickly revealed to be anything but. The previous garrison is gone, the great house of Pokoj, where they're to be billeted, a dilapidated ruin, and the people of Narutsin sullen and belligerent. Convinced the villagers are keeping secrets - and possibly consorting with the enemy - the commanding officer orders his junior lieutenant, Klaes, to investigate.
While Klaes sifts through the villagers' truths, half-truths and lies, Drozde, the quartermaster's woman, is making uncomfortable discoveries of her own - about herself, her man, and the house where they've all been thrown together. Because far from being the empty shell it appears to be, Pokoj is actually teeming with people. It's just that they're all dead. And the dead know things - about Drozde, about the history of Pokoj, and about the terrible event that is rushing towards them all, seemingly unstoppable.
The ghosts of Pokoj, the soldiers of the empress and the villagers of Narutsin are about to find themselves actors in a story that has been unfolding for centuries. It will end in blood - that much is written - but how much blood will depend on Klaes' honour, Drozde's skill and courage, and the keeping of an impossible promise ...

I’ll be reading this for the same reasons that I’ll be dipping into ‘City of Silk and Steel’ very soon. Mike Carey hasn’t let me down yet with his work and I’m looking forward to more of the same here.

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