Friday Faceoff – Fire burn and cauldron bubble… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoff


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 MAGICAL THINGS, so I’ve selected A Discovery of Witches – Book 1 of the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness, despite the fact that only two of my covers feature anything remotely magical – those runes and the grimoire…


This edition was produced by Viking Penguin in February 2011 and is clearly the default cover. I really like the graduated night sky as a backdrop and the iconic Oxford cityscape and well as the effectively eye-catching title font with that enjoyable flourish on the A. However, there are some decisions that have compromised the impact of this classy effort. Why all that chatter had to be crammed under the author is a mystery – why can’t it go on the back cover, along with the blurb? And plonking the Penguin right by the rune seems a bizarre move. Instead of focusing on the book, I found myself wondering why the logo wasn’t tucked neatly right in the bottom left or right-hand corner as is more usual…


Published in February 2011 by Headline, this cover is set during the day, though still featuring the cityscape, especially the Bodleian. Instead of magical runes, this time there is a red aura/magical miasma wafting across the sky. The less cluttered approach works better and though I’m not sure I prefer this design, I do think this cover has more eye appeal than the previous one.


This edition, published by Headline in September 2011, has done away with Oxford as part of the backdrop and this time around has gone for a matt black background with that red magical aura wisping across the cover. The author’s name nearly disappears in thumbnail, given the dark red doesn’t exactly ping off the background. This generic approach is a disappointment, especially compared to the previous two covers.


Produced by Orbit in May 2011, this French edition takes a completely different tack. The monochrome colours work well and I’m pleased to see Oxford feature once again. However, I think the silhouetted girl looks far too young and uncertain to be Diana Bishop. Given this is set in 2009, what is she doing wearing a mini-skirt?


This Croatian edition, published in 2011 is my favourite. I love the fact we are right in the middle of Oxford, right outside the Bodleian library in the middle of the night. And right in the foreground is the book that kicks off this story, pages fluttering and moonlit… So cool and appropriate. Which is your favourite?

40 responses »

  1. I love your choice. It really conjures a great atmosphere. I think the only, kind of, negative aspect that I have with it is that the spire seems to be leaning – which is curious – I wonder if that spire really does lean or if it’s maybe the perspective.
    Lynn 😀

  2. Great pick. I like your pick and I understand the reasoning as to why you chose it , or didn’t choose the others , however for me the penguin cover is the best one .

  3. It’s a toss up between Headline #1 and the Croatian edition. Both are lovely and really evoke the feeling of magic. Great choice, Sarah!

  4. I agree with your choice! Though I also like the Viking Penguin in February 2011 edition ❤

    As for the Mini skirt in 2009, at least here, Mini Skirts were super popular in 2009 so it makes sense?

    • Ah… I hadn’t realised that mini-skirts were a fashion item in 2009 (having hung mine up several decades earlier) so you’re right – it now makes sense!

  5. I like all of these covers far better than the first one. They look ominous and dark while the first one looks kind of fun and campy (which is sometimes my thing but I have to be in the mood).

  6. The edition I read is the Headline one but I’m always envious when people share their copy of the Viking Penguin edition as it really appeals to me. Now I look closely at it though I see what you mean about the clutter under the author’s name, which is a shame. I agree with you, the Croation edition is definitely the best one – it captures the essence of the book really well, and it’s eye-catching.

  7. Hmmmmmmmm, had to just scroll through b/c it’s a full, holiday weekend here (Memorial Day, which began as a picnicking,grave-cleaning time at cemeteries for families and now has become the “official” start of the summer season; most schools are out here on the Texas Gulf Coast. Beaches, waterparks, pleasure piers, etc. open for the start of the tourist season, and we have neighbors BBQing–one hosting a double graduation party for their daughter’s nursing degree and their son’s high school graduation. We had our celebration meal for two at lunch with herb baked chicken, Cheesy Italian Baked Beans, salad and crescent rolls. For dessert, I made two kinds of cookies, half for us and half to freeze. We know how to celebrate!( Wore my red, white, and blue T-shirt, and decorated house and Little Free Library with same).

    • It sounds as if summer has certainly arrived, Rae:)). What a lovely picnic – it sounds a delight. I suppose Remembrance Sunday would be the nearest equivalent, here. Though it’s certainly never warm enough for a picnic as it’s always the 2nd Sunday in November…

  8. I wasn’t sure as I was scrolling through and reading about the covers, then when I got to the last one, I actually said, “Ooooooo”. So I guess that means I agree. Not having read this book I looked for the cover that would draw me in to check out the synopsis and that one certainly would.

  9. Oh darn! Yes, that first cover’s got so much awesomeness going for it, but yeah…if the penguin had a little witch hat, then I’d be all for him hanging out on the front cover :)…otherwise, that last cover’s pretty magical!

  10. The annoying clutter aside (on which I totally agree with you), the first one is my favorite, because of the creativity behind the design. The second one and the third one are generic and boring, and the others feel like nothing special either.

    • Yes – you’re right about the creativity – which is why I was so annoyed by all the clutter and that dreadful penguin. Especially as the majority of modern Penguin covers choose to leave it off the front…

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