Historical Fiction Cover of the Month – January

Well, here we are again. This is the first of this year’s Covers of the Month, which comes, fairly obviously in January. Remember it’s going to be slightly different this year because I’m looking at monthly releases only. But in fact it’s even more exciting than that because this Cover of the Month comes to you from the other side of the world –  though I suppose that might depend on which side of the world you are actually on… Anyway, I bring you this from New Zealand.

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First up is Kevin Ashman’s A Wounded Realm which continues his successful Blood of Kings series. Castle aflame, warriors and banners jostling in the background and up front a single warrior looking pretty fed up with life. This is a cover that conveys its meaning very well. Clearly this is what a wounded realm should look like.

The scene exudes action of course but the colours are understated which gives it a touch of grim reality. I always have a bit of a problem if people on covers are too clearly defined, but I can live with this one – there’s a touch of everyman about him.



Matthew Harffy’s The Cross and the Curse is the sequel to The Serpent Sword,  which incidentally I read recently.513saghuCBL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_

This cover has some elements I really like. The title suggests a certain darkness and the image conveys this tone nicely. The warrior’s stance suggests reverence and duty.

Like the previous image, the colours are muted and sombre, but the figure is looking towards the light which draws the reader’s eye. In fact the use of light is very skilful and adds a lot to the whole cover.

Apart from the arrangement of the title text, which I think is a bit crushed in, the overall effect is terrific.





The paperback of Harry Sidebottom’s Iron and Rust is also out this month and I have to say, I love it. Like the others featured above, the colours are dark but the use of light is spectacular. The position of the lion statue and the glow of light around it drags the reader in. The perspective of the shadowy arches on either side emphasises the effect.

The image as a whole has a haunting and threatening quality so I’m reckoning that this is not a story about bunny rabbits.

This cover shows that you can have bold text without obliterating the image completely – which at least one new release has done!




And finally… we have the cover of Anne O’Brien’s recent release, The Queen’s Choice. Obviously, it’s different from the others and this type of cover seems to be well-liked by HF readers judging by the level of support given to The Winter Crown last year. The colours here though are warmer.

The image is attractive. I like bold designs and what could be bolder than the three lions. Setting them against a black background works well and the gold surround enhances the royal theme.

The choice of font – in keeping with some of Anne’s other books – is easy on the eye and highly appropriate.



So which of these fine examples of cover art is my cover of the month?

There’s hardly a gnat’s crotchet between them all but I’m going to plump for Iron and Rust. Why? I’m less certain about that than usual. Perhaps it’s a male thing because my wife prefers The Queen’s Choice!

So, there you have it, at least for January. I shall return with some of next month’s new releases after my sojourn in the antipodes is over. In the meantime, I’d be interested, as ever, to have your views on the featured covers.

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15 Responses to Historical Fiction Cover of the Month – January

  1. Linda Root says:

    Not a guy thing. I also favor Iron and Rust. My least favorite is Queen’s Choice.

  2. margaretskea Author of prize winning historical novel Turn of the Tide says:

    Iron and Rust for me too, Derek – it is striking as well as sombre, but also uncluttered, despite the large font size.

  3. Thanks for the mention, Derek. As the only “home-grown” cover of the batch, I feel pretty chuffed to be on the same blog and compared to these other great covers.

  4. jeangill says:

    Iron and Rust! Very powerful cover.

  5. Iron and Rust – loved it.

  6. Interesting to me that all of these covers are sombre in terms of colour tones. Is that a preference for you, Derek, or happenstance? Any thoughts on male/female colour preferences?

    • Derek Birks says:

      I’m not sure, Mary. I don’t think I went looking for sombre but perhaps I did without realising it! I would love to be blown away by a more upbeat cover. [I think…]

  7. denisejhale says:

    Not keen on ‘A wounded realm’ but like the other three. The Queen’s choice tips it as warmer and shield is Plantagenet. Warmer tones probably appeal as it’s really cold tonight!

  8. Another great collection of covers, Derek!

  9. speesh says:

    I like that Feud one over on the right there.

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