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Beautiful Covers to Celebrate Black Authors

In this feature we’re looking at the cover design of two beautiful book covers by two female Black authors. Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Lara Tomi Adeyemi, the sequel to 2018’s Children of Blood and Bone, published in 2019 by PanMacmillan follows on from the success of Zélie and Amari bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna, awaiting publication in February 2021 by Usborne, tells the story of sixteen-year-old Deka who bleeds gold – the colour of impurity, of a demon. Deka is an Alaki, a near-immortal with exceptional gifts. Her choice: fight for the Emperor with her kin or be destroyed….

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna


Sprayed Edges and Gold Foil


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If you received the June Fairy Loot box, you would have found this special edition of The Gilded Ones. Complete with beautiful gold foil on the front panel and spine, and green sprayed edges which match the foreground colour of the front panel. The gold foil is very striking alongside the illustration which uses the same pattern as the gold foil on the girl’s face.


Also, the use of gold may represent the colour of Deka’s blood and impurity. The additional gold foil debossed details on the illustration adds another depth to the cover highlighting any metal in Deka’s clothing, hair and jewellery. The green of the background and sprayed edges creates a gorgeous contrast that works well as it blends into the back panel of the book and matches some of Deka’s clothing. The gold foil is used on the book’s spine which will stand out on a bookshelf and make anyone want to pick it up. The use of gold foil for the title adds a connection to the title as ‘gilded’ means something covered with a thin layer of gold leaf or paint just like the cover, spine and the pattern on Deka’s face. The use of silver foil for the title on the front panel is a nice change from the large use of the gold foil, and the bold sans serif font stands out against the rest of the front panel.


Illustration


The Gilded Ones utilises the same realistic illustration style of the novel’s protagonist, Deka, on the front panel. Forna might have decided to do this because of the same use on Children of Virtue and Vengeance which may help to draw in the same audience who picked up both of Tomi Adeyemi’s books. The illustration of Deka is beautifully detailed in every aspect of her design which makes her look like a real person and creates a clear image for the reader whilst they go through the book. The extraordinary detail in the hair is amazing at making the braiding come to life with the additional gold foil bands. The somewhat overwhelming use of gold for Deka’s clothes, jewellery and pattern on her face helps evoke a sense of power and superiority, being a near-immortal. The green in the background helps create contrast with the illustration and use of gold foil.


Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi


Illustration and Font

Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Virtue and Vengeance utilises realistic illustration by artist Sarah Jones on the cover design. The illustration is of Zélie, the novel’s protagonist, is an uncommon feature in fictional novels. Generally, authors choose to disguise their vision of the main character as they want the reader to paint their own picture. However, this technique is particularly useful for novels of fantasy and magic as they often target a younger audience. Adeyemi has purposefully used an illustration to capture the interest of children as they are typically drawn to eye-catching images as opposed to just text or block colours.

Additionally, the cover design paints a very clear image of the story. The colours are dark, elegant and present a powerful and majestic image of the novel’s protagonist. This evokes the idea of a strong, female lead and magical presence within the story. The font is also similar to many other children’s fantasy novels with cursive calligraphy. There are also speckles of orange behind and around the font which simulates the idea of magic and witchcraft.

Comparison

There are some artistic style changes between Children of Blood and Bone and Children of Virtue and Vengeance, evident through their cover design choices. For Children of Blood and Bone, only half of Zélie’s face is shown with her white straight hair taking over most of the cover along with the detail of her head scarf. For Children of Virtue and Vengeance, more of Zélie’s face is shown, which looks very realistic, like Deka on The Gilded Ones cover, and her hair looks like it’s an afro in this book. This could signify the change Zélie went through in Children of Blood and Bone and what she now looks like throughout Children of Virtue and Vengeance.


Check out Children of Virtue and Vengeance, and pre-order The Gilded Ones now for its release next February.