Friday Faceoff – The Heavenly Host…


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is we prefer. This week we are looking at covers featuring angels. I have gone for the first book in Kate Griffin’s fabulous Matthew Swift – A Madness of Angels. Though these blue, electric angels aren’t anything like the ones we are used to…



This offering was published by Orbit in 2009. I love it. I’ve always thought the covers produced for this fantastic series were beautiful and effectively capture the dark splendour of Griffin’s extraordinary prose. There is so much going on in the etched detail running through the lightning effect behind Matthew’s head, it is subtle as well as very eye-catching.



This is the paperback version produced by Orbit, also in 2009. It is an effective cover, using the same themes, but without the central figure and coruscating light surrounding him.


Mise en page 1

This edition was published in 2011 by Editions Eclipse – and as you can see the French have gone for a really hardcore version of Matthew. As it happens, I think it nicely captures his mood when he’s resurrected and he isn’t ever known for his soft fluffy nature…

My favourite is the first offering – partly because it adorns the book I acquired at the first Fantasycon I attended – and partly because it is an awesomely good cover. Do you agree?

18 responses »

  1. Me, I’d be by far the most likely t pick up option #2. What I’d guess Orbit were trying to do was sell it to snooty readers like me who prefer their fantasy to have mainstream attributes, as it were. (Of course, then finding it was part of a series I’d have put it down again smartish!)

    The first Orbit cover has a very lovely illustration, as you rightly say, but it’s sorely, sorely let down by the dreadfully pedestrian typography. The French cover looks like one of the covers that US cheapo-paperback-original printed-on-bogroll publishers like Leisure and Kensington used to produce. A few of their books weren’t too bad, but you had to scrub printers’ ink off your hands after every sitting.

    • Thank you for taking part:). It’s always fascinating to hear opinions about book covers – you are right about the first offering, as the typography is very ordinary. I have to say I didn’t even really notice how ordinary until you mentioned it, as I tend to fixate on that blue-limned figure…

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  3. Hmmm. I do find all the covers catching, but honestly? I think I’m more taken with the second. Perhaps it’s because of the urban flavors they added. The goldenrod title stands out more–I’m not much of a yellow person, but it sure does pop! Would you say this book is a YA, or more for adults? I only ask because I feel that second cover definitely caters to the younger crowd.

    • No – this is definitely aimed at adults. Her writing style is very visual and sensory and she uses London landscapes creatively. I love her work – she also writes as Claire North.

      • I’m guessing they were going for ‘cool urban fantasy with a twist’ look – and it was written a while ago when YA was also giving a different vibe.

      • I think so. It makes sense marketing-wise to blur the lines so that they can maximise the audience. I’m a 50-something who quite happily reads a fair amount of YA for pleasure. If there wasn’t a certain confusion where the genres begin and end, folks like me might give them a wider berth.

  4. I haven’t read the book, so I can’t say which fits the book best, but I do like them all. They all seem to focus on different aspects of the book. The first two feel way more calm, while the third one displays a lot of electricity and an almost aggressive pose. While he looks much calmer on the first cover. They do all seem to kept the blue as main color. Not sure which one is my favorite, but I think one of the first two. I also like how the first two display the city as I assume that plays a role in this book.

    • Oh yes – Griffin knows London well and the city plays a crucial part in the story. Yes… the electricity is signficant, too. It’s one reason why I chose these covers – they really pick up significant aspects of the book.

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