The Publishing Post
Halloween-Worthy Cover Designs
By Amy Evans, Lucy Roberts and Juliette Tulloch
As Halloween approaches and the dark days set in, the cover evaluation team have decided to pick out our top Halloween picks and the design trends that are the most eerie…
Stephen King – It
The New English Library cover for Stephen King’s novel creates a terrifying atmosphere. Against its dark background, the red elements of the cover stand out – the balloon, the title and the glowing eyes in the drain. On this cover the only reference to It taking the form of a clown is quite subtle in the form of the balloon, while other editions of It use the clown image more heavily. Perhaps this edition was trying to be less overt about what the story entails. The rain falling on the balloon and into the drain also adds to the atmospheric effect of the cover – this is a dark night that no-one would want to be out on.
Rachel Yoder – Nightbitch
Nightbitch, Rachel Yoder’s debut novel of last year, has recently undergone a makeover with a new cover design that mirrors the chaotic nature of being a mother, and what can happen when someone is sent over the edge. The palette for the 2021 cover design has been flipped, so that we are drawn towards the feral yet devilish smile in the centre, teeth ever so slightly too sharp. The dramatic typography and utilisation of the two reviews is enough to draw the reader in, insinuating that this will be a novel that encompasses horror and dark humour simultaneously.
R.L. Stine – Welcome to Dead House (Goosebumps #1)
R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series is what a lot of people think of first when it comes to horror books for children. This 2003 edition of Welcome to Dead House does a good job of promising it will be scary, while also being appealing to a younger audience. The pink goo background of the cover and yellow “Goosebumps” text would really stand out on a shelf, and these bright colours help to make the cover feel like it is targeted to kids. The image of the house definitely gives the sense of a haunted house, with an ominous glowing light from the door – which is cracked open, inviting the reader in – and a shadowy figure in the window.
Mary Shelley – Frankenstein
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein earned its place among the gothic literary canon as soon as Shelley’s pen touched the paper. Shelley could not put her name to the book when it was first published for fear of losing her credibility but also the custody of her children. Her monster too goes unnamed throughout the novel – but Bernie Wrightson’s illustration certainly puts a face to the nameless. Wrightson’s gruesome depiction of Frankenstein’s monster sees each part of his creation made clear: the sinews in his neck protruding almost out of the cover itself and his gaunt eye sockets too hollow for his eyes. This illustration stands out from other depictions, lacking green skin or bolts, instead replaced with a full head of hair and clothing. This gives the monster a more human element, making it even more frightening as it walks the tightrope between monster and human. However, the ornate gold bordering does provide a border between the monstrous and the reader.
Mariana Enriquez – Our Share of Night
Mariana Enriquez’s Our Share of Night, translated by Megan McDowell and released in October, has produced rave reviews with its unsettling nature. No doubt the cover design speaks of the demonic and gruesome rituals that follow the story of Gaspar, who must inherit his fathers grisly role within the Order. Set during Argentina's military dictatorship and its aftermath, Enriquez’s writing plays on speculative writing – as reflected in the bold blue cover design against the graphic talons that encompass the whole page. Granta Book’s edition is a stark contrast to Hogarth’s, set for release in February 2023, which plays on bold colours from the 80s, mimicking that of a classic horror poster for a Stephen King film.
Neil Gaiman – Coraline
Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is likely for many children and young adults one of their first forays into creepy and unsettling literature. This 2003 edition from Bloomsbury features cover and illustrations by Chris Riddell, which at first glance feature a comforting blend of colours but at a closer inspection is an uneasy image. The feline figure is twisting itself into an uncomfortable shape while Coraline stares straight at the reader, somewhat inspired by the movie adaptation's own style. The positioning of the two characters will make anyone who picks up the book feel as though they have interrupted a private conversation, as Coraline twists her head around indignantly.