This series has seen two, possibly three shifts in cover art and concept and none of them, in my humble opinion, accurately reflect the awesome inside. The covers make them look hokey. And they are anything but. This is frustrating to me, as a reader, because I believe these books deserve so much more and these covers make it hard for me to recommend them and get them into the hands of other readers who will fall in love with Ms. Moore's wonderful characters and unique world. Despite the categorical unfairness of it, we all judge books by their covers to a certain degree and the truth is, if I'd seen this cover with no knowledge of the book or series, I would have run scream-laughing the other way. Sad, but true. Part of that is my fault with the cover snobbery and whatnot. But part of it's not.
My question for Ace Books is how hard is it to craft a decent cover that stands a chance of appealing to the average fantasy reader and, at the very least, does not do the author and book a grand disservice by portraying the characters and/or story as ridiculous or cliché? How hard is it to have the artist depict Taro as actually handsome and not possessed of a face like unto a foot? Before you say it, I know there are covers out there that misrepresent the characters or tone of their books, sometimes massively, yet still work and sell books like hot cakes. The Mercy Thompson series comes to mind. Mercy would never dress as scantily as she does on those covers. And yet there's no denying they are attractive and they unquestionably connect, on a visceral level, with Patricia Briggs' audience. These, however, do not.
Interestingly, in the midst of all the responses to the description of this new cover, an anonymous poster linked to a picture by Chris McGrath, which she said reminded her of Lee & Taro. Several of us, including Moira, popped on over and were stunned at how exactly the image matched our impression of them.
(image courtesy of Chris McGrath's awesome website)
Is it not perfect? Not even a hint of the goofy, the deranged, or the simply inaccurate. It's just Taro & Lee. I adore it. Now, I've admired Mr. McGrath's work for some time now. And I happen to know he's done the covers for several new as well as established fantasy and urban fantasy authors and titles, including Seanan McGuire's October Daye series, Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden files, Kat Richardson's Greywalker novels, and Kelly Gay's Charlie Madigan series. Three of the four of those examples are published by divisions of the Penguin Group, to which Ace also belongs. Come on, Ace. No more cheap cartoon art. You're five books in now. It's time to give these books the covers (and larger audience) they deserve.