Friday Faceoff – Silhouettes are reductions… #Brainfluffbookblog #FridayFaceoffsilhouettecovers #WyrdandWonder2020



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 being nurtured by Lynn’s Book Blog and this week we are featuring covers with SILHOUETTES. I’ve selected Dark Lord of Derkholm – Book 1 of the Derkholm series by Diana Wynne Jones – see my review. I am linking this post to Wyrd and Wonder 2020.


This offering was produced by HarperCollins Children’s Books in August 2013 – though as far as I’m concerned, this is NOT a children’s book as it has a scene including rape and sexual exploitation, even though it isn’t at all graphic and in places is very funny. Back to the cover – this is the one that came to mind when I thought of silhouettes and I think it is an enjoyable effort, although probably just a tad too cluttered to be truly effective. With such a genre mash-up, it’s often difficult to encompass the mood and themes, but I think this cover succeeds in giving a sense of the book.


Published in April 2001 by HarperTeen, this cover features Kit the Griffin and Derk enacting one of their more dramatic battle scenes. It’s a lovely and accomplished cover, full of action – but my quibble is that I’m not sure you get a true sense of what is really going on. The book is a satire, using fantastical tropes to highlight what is happening to some of the most beautiful parts of our planet and there isn’t a hint of that in this cover.


This German edition, published by Knaur in April 2018, is another dramatic offering, though I also get a sense of the humour on the expression of that magnificent dragon. I also love the overall design – and while not usually a huge fan of borders, the way this one evolves out of the flames engulfing the castle against the night sky is eye-catching and effective. It is so nearly my favourite…


This edition, published in 2000 by Millennium is another beautiful cover – and unusual in that the five-star treatment has been given to the author name, rather than the title. The glowing backlighting sings out – although the actual lettering rather fades into the textured background – I’m guessing the print version of this cover looked stunning. However in thumbnail it isn’t quite so successful – though that doesn’t stop the artwork being fabulous.

This Japanese edition, published by 東京創元社 in 2002 is glorious. It has taken the book and nested the author’s amazing fantastical animals within a Japanese setting, which works perfectly. So the design is beautiful as well as giving a sense of the parody and satire of the book. This is my favourite cover. Which one do you prefer?

33 responses »

  1. The First Mate and I both think the first cover is the best. It is so evocative. Though he also likes the Japanese cover a lot. We were just discussing the author yesterday because he is listening to essays and one discussed her. He had heard her name but didn’t know what she wrote. I have a hankering to go back and listen to some of her books now. I have never read this one. I normally avoid books with rape in them but I assume it is not just a plot device?
    x The Captain

    • Oh no – and it seems to me that a lot of the readers don’t actually register the event at all. There is a lot of humour in this book, but it is essentially (I think) a satire on the way we behave when on holiday. However, I haven’t heard anyone else raise this as an issue, as they are busy rhapsidisng about the plot and how poor Derk is rushing around trying to make the tour work… So I’d love your take on it, frankly. Perhaps I’m overthinking it?

    • Thank you, Tammy! I went for this cover, because I’ve got a copy of the top cover – which is a really good one, but once I went looking and found these other stunning examples, it was a no-brainer that it had to be either one. In the end I went with the Japanese cover, but I was very torn, because – dragon!

    • Yes! All the covers here have done a brilliant job at incorporating aspects of the story – which is a lovely, refreshing change, too:)). That dragon particularly features at a key moment in the book…

  2. SJ, I still haven’t read anything by Diana Wynne Jones… I know! *Hangs head in shame* But seeing these gorgeous covers I know I need to read something by her even more! 😏

    • Thank you, Becky – it is an awesome effort, isn’t it? I’ve just nipped back to answer from comments – sorry for the delay! And I’ve been struck all over again with the quality of all the covers – but particularly the Japanese one…

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  4. OH MY GOSH THIS BOOK! You know me–I love her with and fun with creating a parody and unique adventure all her own here. Every cover carries that level of adventure, yes, and each cover’s gorgeous in its own right. But part of me is just a smidge bummed that the parody’s never really present. Do you think the parody should be more evident?

    • Well… I personally think there are flashes of it within that first cover – and the Japanese cover. But when listening to the audio book, I was also struck with the anger simmering under the humour, too. I’m guessing DWJ was more than a tad hacked off at the way some of we Brits handle ourselves when we go on holiday – and how those resorts suffer…

      • Oh yes! That series of covers is consistently sassy across DWJ’s books. You’re absolutely right there. I can appreciate the anger, too. I’m rereading DEATH ON THE NILE because a)I’m working out some thoughts for a writing post and b)I think this is the next Kenneth Branaugh (sp?) Poirot movie. Christie puts aaaaaall the mannerisms of Brits on holiday to the forefront here. Uffdah.

      • Yes – I was actually quite shaken when listening to this one last year… It made a huge impression on me. I’d missed the sexual assault when reading it, for starters…

      • No! Neither had I – it wasn’t until I listened to the audiobook version that I registered what happened. But it’s definitely there – and she makes it quite clear that the whole incident is traumatic…

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