On a particularly forgetful day, I lost Jaime’s copy of The Secret History of Moscow, which I’d accidentally taken with me when I’d left from my last visit with her. The lost and found didn’t have it, and I imagine some enterprising young person who likes Russian fantasy novels is probably enjoying it right now. Since I felt guilty, I decided to buy a new one, but the store didn’t have it in, so I ordered a new one. However, I didn’t specify the large paperback, so now I’ve got the mini paperback version. I know I shouldn’t be so picky, but the cover art of the mini paperback is so… generic. Here’s Jaime’s original copy’s cover art:

Not bad, eh? A lot of novels lately have black birds on the cover (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell being the most prominent one I can think of) but the mechanical side of the birds is an interesting touch, and the design is visually striking without being too burdensome on the eyes.

There’s also a bird on the cover of the small paperback, but:

The only thing that’s really stayed the same is the presence of a bird, and the words “the” and “of” being a different colour than the rest of the title text. This one annoys me because, unlike the stark, simple, eye-catching design of cover 1, this cover leaves the impression that the book is a generic sci-fi fantasy novel of no particular merit. If I were unfamiliar with the book, I would bypass this one in the bookstore without a second thought. It’s also way too busy, with all of the colour, even though very little is going on in the picture. And finally, the posing of who I assume is supposed to be Galina on the cover. It’s unnecessarily sexualized, squashing her breasts together in that squatting position with her leaning forward so you can almost see down her very revealing shirt. Not only is it overly sexualized for no reason, it’s wildly out of character for Galina, and it takes away from the fun of imagining what the characters look like by myself.

One of my dream jobs when I was growing up was designing book covers, too. And please, feel free to indulge in any corny jokes about judging a book by its cover that you desire. I could use a smile.