Friday Faceoff – A crown it is a hollow thing… 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 a CROWN, so I’ve selected Three Dark Crowns – Book 1 of the Three Dark Crowns series by Kendare Blake.


This edition was produced by HarperTeen in September 2016. I really like the idea of this one – three crowns all different, interspersed with the title. But I’m less impressed with the execution. Who decided that the backdrop had to be so flipping dark? Or that the gloom should all but engulf the images, so that in thumbnail, all you can see is the black cover and even the title is swallowed up. What a shame – because I feel that if only the backdrop had been just a bit brighter, this default cover would have really popped.


Published in September 2016 by Macmillan Children’s Books, this one is slightly better, although in thumbnail it is still difficult to make out anything other than the gold and red. However, I do prefer this as the contrast between the red roses and gold gives it visual impact and I also very much like the styling of the red font against the black background.


Der Schwarze ThronDie Schwestern von Kendare Blake

This German edition, published by Penhaligon in May 2017 has decided to make a feature out of the crown, rather than the dark, which is far more eye-catching in thumbnail. I love the smoky effect surrounding the crown, along with the wheeling birds, giving a real sense of menace. And I also like the embossed effect gold finish on the title font that gives it a nifty 3-D effect. My niggle is with that nasty red blob in the middle of the artwork – why couldn’t it have gone in a corner, or at bottom where it wouldn’t have interfered so jarringly with the design?


Produced by Pan Macmillan in September 2016, this one is my favourite. While I still think the black is rather too pervasive, that bright green snake curled around the crown really leaps out and is nicely complemented by the matching title font. Punchy and simple, I think that this is the most successful of all the covers, perhaps with the exception of the bottom one, which is also my favourite… Yep – this time around, I simply can’t choose between these two.


This Chinese edition, published by 臉譜 in July 2016, features the three queens fighting for the crown. I love the strong anime influence in the artwork, revealing their individual strengths. It’s busier than the stripped-back approach of the other examples, but I think it’s certainly more successful than some of the gloomiest examples and I can’t make up my mind between this one and the previous cover featuring the snake. Which is your favourite?

30 responses »

  1. I agree, I love the first cover, but it’s too dark (although the title does have the word “dark” in it😁) But I really love the last one, it’s so different from the others!

    • Yes, it’s such a shame – the overall design is lovely, but that black background does swallow up the crowns as soon as the covers are shrunk. Glad you also love that last one, Tammy:).

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  3. I like how the Chinese edition looks … more imaginative? 🙂 I wonder if they first checked what others were doing and decided it wouldn’t work for their market 🙂 So is the first one American and the second one British? I would have thought it’s the second one is American. Theirs are usually more dramatic.

    • Yes – I also liked the Chinese cover because it took a different approach, too. I think HarperTeen is a US publishing firm and Macmillan’s the UK branch, which would make the first US and the second UK.

  4. Wow, it’s hard to pick a favorite. I’m drawn to the German one but that might just be because it stands out when compared to all of those black covers. I do agree about the NYTimes red blob though. So unnecessary and distracting.

  5. I agree with your thoughts on the first one: great idea, not so good execution. Tiny details of the crowns get lost even in a bigger size, and the font is too thin to stand against the black (and if the crowns were crispier, I’d be fine with a fine font like that, but the way it is, it gets muddled with all the black).
    I love the font choice on both Macmillan covers, but the image itself doesn’t grab me.
    German one is definitely the most eye-catching one, and although I like the Chinese one as well, it’s cleared geared toward its local market, so I’m not really a target (though I’m a fan of manga&anime, this style actually reminds me of human models from all their video games).

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