Friday Faceoff – Always do what you’re afraid to do… #Brainfluffbookblog


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 meme is currently being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and the subject this week featuring on any of our covers is something SCARY, so I’ve selected The Woman in Black by Susan Hill.


This edition was produced by David R. Godine in December 2001. While I’m never a fan of boxes containing the artwork, I think this one gives a sense of the period in which this creepy book is set. I’ve seen this on the stage at it is mesmerising – the haunted look of the man in the picture very accurately reflected the way the marvellous actor played the main character. And please don’t judge this by the dreadful film starring the hapless Daniel Radcliffe…


Published in 1998 by Vintage, I really like this stylish offering. The diffuse sun shining through the fog… the woman wandering alone… and the looping font all give a real sense of the book. I also rather like the decorative scrolling around the edge. Does it give a sense of menace? I think so, but maybe I’m biased, given that I know what an issue that fog is to the story…


This edition, published by Vintage Classic in October 2007 has called my bluff. I am always moaning about cluttered covers and how much I’d like to see a more minimalist approach. This one, however, has gone too far the other way. The outline of those tangled branches is wonderfully menacing, but would it have killed them to actually give Susan Hill her full name? Or maybe – perish the thought – actually lend a bit of style to the painfully plain title font.


Produced by Profile Books in September 2011, this is also a very attractive offering. I like the purple and black colour scheme and the Victorian woman walking alone. And then they go and over-egg it by having an owl flying overhead… I can’t recall if there is a hooting owl – while the sound of that rocking chair is one that I’ll never forget – the problem I have with its addition, along with the colour scheme, is that it now looks like a shapeshifting paranormal fantasy cover…


This edition, published by Vintage in October 2011 has so much going for it. I love the fog-shrouded forest and the lovely looping title font. And then they go and completely spoil it by putting a lot of chatter on the cover about the dreadful film! Otherwise this one would have been my outright favourite. As it is, it ties with the second cover. Which is your favourite?

42 responses »

    • I’m delighted that you, too, saw the stage play! And as it is so true to the book, you probably wouldn’t need to do so. And the purple cover is lovely, too, isn’t it?

  1. I nearly used this book too but I think i’ve used it before. Shame about the film – the book is so much more scary. I like the first cover – because of the guy’s face which is just perfect, and it fits the period somehow. I think the second is best although the scrolly cover in blue is very typical for this author’s covers and if I was buying I’d want that edition because it ties in.
    Great choice for a great book.
    Lynn 😀

  2. I’m going to go with the Vintage Classic edition this week. It’s very plain and stark, but I do love how the emptiness brings out the jagged outlines of the branches. The purple one is pretty too, but a bit claustrophobic!

  3. This is a really great selection of covers. There’s something in each that I really like, but I’m going to go with the second one as my favorite. I love the coloring, the scrollwork around the edges, and the silhouette.

  4. Oh, I LOVE this cover meme!! The comparison of different covers is truly a LOT of fun, as well as interesting!! I’ve been thinking of joining in, but the thing is, I already have a cover meme, and looking for alternate covers does take up quite a bit of time. I LOVE your own posts, though!! 🙂 🙂

    This is yet another set of intriguing, and not so intriguing, covers…

    I can tell you right off the bat that I totally DETEST the first cover! It just looks VERY tacky to me. I mean, how OBVIOUS can you get? Of course, the viewer knows right away that the woman is a ghost. I don’t like the combination of her image with the man’s. I don’t know why, but I just don’t. Lol.

    The second cover is much better! It’s very evocative. However, I don’t much like the font used for the title. It clashes too much with the one used for the author’s name.

    I agree with you 100% about the third cover; it’s just TOO minimalist. If I were Susan Hill, I’d be HIGHLY insulted that my full name doesn’t appear on this cover!! What’s up with that?!

    The fourth cover…..AHHH, BLISS!!!! This one is my FAVORITE!!! I LOVE covers that use an overall, stylized pattern. I just find it SO visually appealing! I think this one is a total GEM. I would be tempted to pick up the book with THIS cover! Of course, since I know the plot is VERY creepy, I wouldn’t, but boy, I’d be sorely tempted…

    The last cover doesn’t do a THING for me. Yes, there’s the fog and all that, but, in this case, I don’t like the fact that the title OVERPOWERS the cover! And then, to add insult to injury, there’s the CHATTER. Lol.

    So, the winner, for me, is number 4, hands down!! 🙂 🙂

    Thanks for another WONDERFUL cover post, Sarah!! Hope you’re having a nice weekend!! CHEERS!!! ❤ ❤ ❤ 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Thank you, Maria:)). I always very much value your input as you have an informed opinion on all the different covers and my interest in other people’s ideas and choices regarding book covers have become MUCH sharper since I’ve had to be responsible for producing my own book covers!

      I, too, love that fourth cover, too – but I do wonder if it has too much of a shape-shifting vibe…

      I understand why you have decided not to join the Friday Face-off meme, but I very much appreciate your enthusiastic support – bless you!!

  5. I have to say that although I feel there are some design issues with it, the Vintage Classic one immediately caught my eye. I think that if the title was moved to the top with a bigger and perhaps different font, it might have been the most effective of the all.
    I like the purple one too, but this style has been done over and over again, so unless it’s a super-unique approach, such cover just doesn’t stand out from the crowd of various-genred covers.
    The last one is appealing too, though I’d like to see better work with the phantom of the woman. At the moment, to me, it looks more like poor use of a Photoshop brush than a phantom…

    • Yes – I take your point regarding the Vintage Classic cover – it’s a really good design. But I do get really frustrated at how often title and author fonts seem to get slapped across a cover as a complete afterthought… *now steps down from her soapbox, panting slightly* Not that I over-react. In any way. At all…

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