Historical Fiction Cover of the Month – February

Well, I’m back, but being away for six weeks is quite disorientating, or so I’ve found. Don’t get me wrong, we had a wonderful time but getting back into the “usual” routine is surprisingly hard work. So February’s Cover of the Month is, to say the least, a little late. Still, never mind. What goodies have I got in store for you? Well, only two I’m afraid but a couple of good ones nevertheless.

You may have noticed that February is one of the shorter months and, after trawling through the new releases in historical fiction this month, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s not also a bit of a graveyard for new releases. You know, on the cusp – not quite out of the depression of winter and not quite into the optimism of spring.

There are a lot of covers – and do remember this is a review of covers not story quality – that follow the Strictly Come Dancing model – lots of bare-chested men and alluring women. Sorry, but I’m not into such covers because they are a bit too predictable and formulaic for me. Also, I’m not going to include any covers which I don’t rate highly just to fill up the blog page.

The two I’ve chosen are very different yet they both possess qualities I rather like.

First up is the latest in David Gilman’s Master of War series, Gate of the Dead. Now, even including this one is a bit of a cheat because it’s only the hardback version which is released this month – but hey ho…


Anyway, what do I like about it? A lot of things really. Let’s be honest, that is a stonking big axe! It’s a little unusual to place such a large item right at the top of the page rather than more centrally, but I think it works well with the positioning and layout of the text.

I like the steely colour palette with – dare I say it once again – light at the centre of the image to draw the eye. The subtle shaping of the clouds suggests that the axe is bursting out of them and I’m always a sucker for such hints of movement in a still image.

The font colours chime well with the image colours – if a colour can chime, which I must admit sounds unlikely… Overall then, a cover which works very well.


My second offering is The North Water by Ian McGuire and it is a little different from what normally floats my boat. [Sorry…]


It is of course based on drawings rather than photographs and it has that rather grainy, unsophisticated look to it, but it’s cleverly done with starkly contrasting colours. But should the sea not be blue, you ask? Probably, but it’s the Arctic so I’m thinking icy waters.

The raw image conveys excitement, so I don’t really need Hilary Mantel’s endorsement on the front telling me that. In my view, such things belong on the back but I suppose it sells more books… Anyway, where was I? Yes, excitement. The use of the bubbles around the whale’s body gives the whole image a touch of turbulence – suggestion of movement again. When I look at the whale, I’m sure it’s moving!

Then of course, there’s the sailing ship – not exactly an original idea, I’ll grant you, but nicely done all the same.

This cover would certainly attract me to the book and, of the two, I’d have to go with The North Water as my Cover for February.

If by any chance you’ve come across some cracking new releases for this month that I haven’t found, then feel free to let me know – or comment about these two. I’m really hoping for a bumper crop in March…

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