Friday Faceoff – Checkmate


This meme was started by Books by Proxy, whose fabulous idea was to compare UK and US book covers and decide which is the one we prefer. This week the theme is black and white covers, so I’ve chosen Blackout – Book 1 of the All Clear series by Connie Willis.


This cover produced by Spectra Books in February 2010 is the original. I love the way we get small bubbles of action in amongst the shifting dark pattern – an attractive design that nicely echoes the content of this time-travelling adventure. This one is my favourite.


This offering was produced by Gollancz in June 2011 and is another strong contender. The cloud revealing the London skyline from the surrounding black cover is another strong, simple design that is both eye-catching and effective.


This French edition was published by J’ai lu in March 2014. The iconic view of Westminster surrounded by smoke smearing the sky would certainly make me look again and though I’m not a fan of solid blocks of colour as a backdrop for the title and author, this time the blue works very well.


Produced in September 2010 by Allen and Unwin, this Kindle edition is another successful effort. The greyscale shading works well as the girl is unmistakeably from the late 1930s/early 1940s. The red tinge near the top of the cover just behind the ruin gives a slight sense of menace – and a big clue as to the setting of the book.


Published in February 2010 by Spectra Books, this hardback edition is the most generic of the covers and my least favourite. It has clearly been taken from a photograph of the time and I think the overall design is further weakened by a rather limp title font. Which cover do you like best – and which is your least favourite?


39 responses »

    • I’m delighted you’re giving the book a go and I look forward to hearing how you get on with it, Anne. Her most famous book, Doomsday is also in this world and a time-travelling adventure.

      • I am excited to check it out- I always think that I will remember book recommendations when I make it to the library, forgetting that with my lack of memory plus chasing my lil ones through the stacks I can hardly remember my name by the end of a trip 🙂 But WW2 plus time travelling? This sounds too interesting to pass up!

      • Finished these last night- thanks again for writing this so I could discover them! 🙂 I’m thinking of a post involving these books- if I can figure out how to do it, do you mind if I link back to this post (since this is where I heard about them?)

  1. I really like all of these covers but it’s the Gollancz one that really draws me to it and makes me want to pick it up. My second favourite would be the Spectra one. The one that appeals to me the least is the Ballantine Books one purely because it’s not as atmospheric as the others.

  2. I think that they are all pretty decent covers! Which is a surprise to say with this meme as occasionally there are some ghastly ones unearthed amongst the choices available!😂

    For me, I’d definitely go with the top cover too. It looks really smart and out of all of them the planes really caught my attention.

  3. Interesting how the first two covers stay both with the black and white theme and then the rest is so different. I think I like the first two covers the best. But the iconic Westminster Abbey on the third one does catch the eye too, just like you I am not a fan of the big block of color though, but it sort of works here.

  4. The last one looks kind of a like it could be any World War I book ever written. I do like your favorite and the cover with the girl’s face. Her look is so distinctive. I like the cover that shows Big Ben but don’t love the blue. So interesting to see all the different covers!

  5. Pingback: Connie Willis’ BLACKOUT: The Power of Historical Fiction – The Naptime Author

  6. I love the first two. The third one would be perfect too, but I have the same problem with it as you: that big block of blue. The fourth one had a potential, but I don’t feel mixing grayscale and sepia worked well, so in the end to me it looks like a cheap cover. The same with the last one: it feels like it’s just a stock picture with some text slapped on it – it makes the two first ones stand out even more.

    • I always love getting your feedback on this weekly post, as I’m aware you see issues with your artist’s eye and furthermore – can articulate them. I tend to be a lot more wafty about what I like and dislike. Thank you for swinging by and taking time to give your opinion! I look forward to hearing from you:)x

      • I’m glad you like my input. Most of my “artist’s eye” comes from self-taught observation and from reading sites like Cover Critics (very good place to learn design for self-published books).

  7. Pingback: The Power of Historical Fiction and Connie Willis’ BLACKOUT – The Naptime Author

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