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 UNICORNS, so I’ve selected The Last Unicorn – Book 1 of The Last Unicorn series by Peter S. Beagle.
This edition was a 40th Anniversary Edition produced by Penguin Roc in July 2008. I really like this one, though I would have preferred that border to continue down the sides as well as across the top and bottom. This unicorn looks rather fragile and otherworldly, though again, my grumble is that the font is rather ordinary. You’d think a unicorn would deserve something a bit more special in the way of a title font, wouldn’t you?
Published in November 2015 by Conlan Press, I want to like this cover more than I do. I’m guessing a decision was made to alter the proportions of this creature so it looks more like a deer than a horse – but as far as I’m concerned, it just looks odd. I’m not thrilled about that ugly black text box looming across the top of the cover, or dreary title font either. Though the full moon and the delicate silvery half-light picking out the leaves in the hedge behind the unicorn is a delight.
This edition, published by Ballantine Books Inc in December 1987, is very much of its time. The blocky design with a round orange sun, lollipop-like bushes and a rather rocking-horse depiction of the unicorn is familiar territory for those of us who bought copies of Lord of the Rings around this time. While it brings back a frisson of nostalgia, I’m not particularly fond of this cover.
Produced by ROC Fantasy/Penguin Books in 1991, the proportions of this unicorn are definitely more pleasing and I love the delicacy of the artwork. The winding stream and wilderness providing the setting for the magical creature is beautifully executed. I also like the flourishes on the title font and the fact there isn’t any pesky text box, though I could have done with less chatter across the top of that lovely artwork.
This Finnish edition, published by Wsoy in 1994, is my favourite. This unicorn not only looks beautiful, she also looks powerful. I love that dramatic sky as the sun sets behind the Disney castle and the clever way the light is bouncing off the unicorn, emphasising her outline. That uprooted tree in the foreground and that setting sun underlines the sense of something precious disappearing. If I had to change anything, it would be the rather dreary font – but I can’t have everything and this is the cover I think is the most successful. Which is your favourite?