Friday Faceoff – Hell is Empty and all the Devils Are Here…


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 demons. I have chosen The Amulet of Samarkand – Book 1 of the Bartimaeus Sequence by Jonathan Stroud. Though strictly speaking Bartimaeus is a djinni, not a demon…


theamuletofsamarkandThis offering was published by Disney-Hyperion in 2003. You get a sense of the creature’s age (he is 5,000 years old) and his sharp, sly humour that pings off the page. I love the fact he is sideways on and evidently taunting us with the precious amulet. Pity about the lettering.


theamuletofsamarkand1This version was produced by Corgi Children’s in 2004. Again, Bartimaeus dominates, this time looking very much like a gargoyle. I’m not sure I like the sepia look, but I do love the lettering on this cover.


theamuletofsamarkand2This edition was published in 2004 by cbj Verlag. The overall design is the same as the previous version, but I far prefer the dark colour palette, which I think gives the cover more eye appeal, though this time around I think the font is disappointing.


theamuletofsamarkand3This edition was published in 2007 by Le Livre de Poche. This is the runner-up for me. I love the drama of the backlighting and the backdrop of the library as Bartimaus appears in Nathaniel’s circle for the first time. My favourite is the first cover – it’s the wicked grin that sells this one for me. A suitably memorable cover for a wonderfully memorable series. Do you agree?

17 responses »

  1. Hmmm. I also like the sepia, but to it’s the expression in the Disney-Hyperion cover that gets me, too. I wonder why they couldn’t use the trilogy font for the book 1 title; would it not have fit in that space? I’m a sucker for the fancy first letters… 🙂

    • I’m well aware there’s a real cultural difference in US and UK tastes regarding covers. US covers are more likely to feature people and are generally brighter, whereas UK covers are often more muted and use objects or symbols. Yes… sometimes the US efforts are garish, but they are just as likely to be attractive and punchy, whereas the UK versions can be drearily unappealing when done badly:)

  2. Interesting how all the covers contain the gargoyle creature on the cover, but the atmosphere of the cover is very different every time. I do think the expression of the gargoyle on the first cover is brilliant.

  3. I agree that most fonts are disappointing. I like the idea in the first one (as you said, Bartimeus taunting us), and the taste and execution of the second. I felt like the third had potential, but darkening made me feel the cover’s blurry and unfocused.
    So, all in all, my fav would be the first one too. Especially that it feels very suitable for young readers’ market.

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