Friday Faceoff – I thought unicorns were more… fluffy – 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 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?

29 responses »

  1. I love the background of the 2015 by Conlan Press cover, but you are right, the proportions of the Unicorn are just weird and it ruins the whole thing!! Also I agree that a Unicorn deserves a special font!! On that first cover the “The” is in a really pretty font but “Last Unicorn” isn’t in the same font?!?! They should have used the same font as they did for the “The”

    • I was intrigued to see, on Lynn’s site, that the unicorns depicted on medieval tapestries were proportioned just like that particular one… So perhaps the idea that it is more horse-like is a relatively modern idea – perhaps back then, it was supposed to look more like a deer.

  2. The first and last ones keep catching my eye as I scroll up and down. Both are lovely in their own way. I agree that the unicorn looks a little too much like a deer on the second cover.

  3. Mmmmm, I’m going with that first cover. You’re right that the border would actually have been really sweet on all sides. Font-wise, had they gone with “The”‘s font all the way through, that’d have been pretty! And I’ve a soft-spot for that slightly odd shape of unicorn because it’s reminiscent of the animated film. 🙂

  4. The anatomy of the unicorns in these covers makes me smile 🙂 It is a horse, right? How difficult would it be to draw a horse 🙂 #4 is my choice. I also like the position of the unicorn in the first cover – on the top of the cliff that conveys loneliness.

    • Yes – I think medieval unicorns were more derived from deer than horses, judging by the pictures of them!

      And I agree with your comment about the sense of loneliness – there’s a lot of symbolism in that picture, isn’t there?

  5. I can see why you like the Finnish cover, it is beautiful. I like the 1991 cover, but agree there is too much writing at the top. Why would anyone make a Unicorn look more like a deer? That is the oddest cover for me. Great post Sarah.

  6. The first one is my favorite, and your grumbles are actually benefits to me. Adding frame to the sides would make the image feel squished within it, and the font is perfect: it’s readable, fits in, but doesn’t take away from the image itself. I think that usually what works the best is simple, elegant fonts on busy images and more decorative fonts where the images leave a lot of space/aren’t that important.

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