Historical Fiction Cover of the Month – August

Well, if July was a bit of a low point for me in terms of HF covers, this month is providing something of a bonanza! There are seven this month that I’m suggesting for your consideration – yes, seven! I know, I’m generous to a fault.

I should say, for anyone new to this series of posts, I make no claim that these are the “best” covers but only that I happen to like them. I have an aversion to HF covers with just a random male or female figure – bare or not – and little else to recommend them. So you won’t find any of those!

Anyway, to this month’s fare. Since there are so many, my comments will be a little briefer than usual. wolfbanner

First up are Paula Lofting’s The Wolf Banner whiCrossandCursech I think is a reprinting but with a new cover and Matthew Harffy’s The Cross and the Curse which is also a sequel.

There are some nice touches on both of these and the helmeted figure in each case pretty much tells the prospective reader what they need to know about the subject matter of the story.

Interestingly, the two book covers have a similar layout with the position of the title and author texts reversed. It’s an effective formula that is quite popular at the moment.

All but one of the “7” are books from a series and the next three are by authors who need little introduction. furiesofrome

Robert Fabbri’s The Furies of Rome and David Pilling’s Conquestconquest  use fire to draw the eye and both deploy fonts of yellow and white. Whilst this is not exactly an original idea, I think that both use it effectively. The Furies also manages to create the impression of motion as well. You feel as if the horses are heading straight for you.


Another martial cover image is used by Douglas Jackson’s Saviour of Rome but it is in stark contrast to the other two. Here we have skilful use of pastel colours with one rider picked out more prominently. One of the difficulties with long running series is creating a series of interesting covers. Do you go for covers which resemble each other with perhaps only some changes of background colour, or do you create very different layouts and images for each title? Either can, of course, be effective. To take this series as an example, the earlier books had a more dramatic image at the heart of the cover. The font used to start with was also different. The last two books have used lighter backgrounds and the change does make them stand out a bit.

OK, the final two!accession


Accession by Livi Michael has rather less “going on” than some of the covers above, but I’m a sucker for simplicity and I like the image. Sword, red rose – sort of says a fair bit on the content. I also love the title font but, for me, the rest of the text belongs on the back of the book. Not sure what’s left to put on the back – perhaps another little penguin?



But cover of the month for me this month is this one: 1066 Turned Upside Down which is the work of no less than nine different authors.

Why? Because it is a little different and because it attempts to match the idea of the book. Yes, I know it’s a helmet and we’ve seen plenty of those, but by using the inverted image it not only echoes the title but – and here’s the really smart bit – in using a reflected image that’s not quite true it demonstrates that it is a work of alternative history.

The design is not only clever but pleasing to the eye. The title stands out well and at a glance the reader knows what is contained within.

So, that’s it for August. Many mentioned in dispatches, but there can be only one winner…

Now, there’s a man digging a hole in my front garden so I’m off to see if he’s discovered any Roman artefacts…

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3 Responses to Historical Fiction Cover of the Month – August

  1. Thanks for the mention, Derek. Great post as always.

  2. Derek Birks says:

    You’re welcome, Matthew.

  3. Cathy Helms says:

    I am thrilled that you have chosen my cover design for ‘1066 Turned Upside Down’ for your cover of the month!! It was a great project for me working with such talented authors. And the book is also a fantastic read. Thank you again!

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