Mid-Year Wrap-Up: Our Favourite Covers from 2023
By Megan Coote, Abbie Wright, Laura Wallacea and Tessa Thejas Thomas
We are over halfway through 2023, and so this week the Cover Evaluation team is looking back at some of the most memorable cover designs that have been published so far this year.
Scorched Grace by Margot Douaihy
The colourful and abstract style is popular amongst designers and Scorched Grace is no exception. The cover for Scorched Grace by Margot Douaihy, published in February 2023, was designed by freelancer Will Staehle whose work is bold and memorable. The whodunnit follows Sister Holiday, a chain-smoking, heavily tattooed, queer nun who must put her amateur sleuthing skills to test. This design provides the perfect visual representation of the book with Sister Holiday being front and centre, cigarette in hand. From the outset, the cover depicts the contrast between a stereotypical nun and Sister Holiday’s character, sparking readers' interest. The cover is certainly not predictable as whilst the murder mystery genre typically sticks to a darker, moodier palette, bold colours are used for this design: a combination of bright pink, red and purple, which combined with the central image, sets the book apart from the rest – a murder mystery with a difference. The fractured stained glass style used is not only visually striking, but a clear link to the theme of religion, as stained glass windows are often found in churches. Vibrant and unique, the design for Scorched Grace is a definite contender for one of the most memorable designs from 2023 so far. You can find more of Will Staehle’s work here.
Vintage Contemporaries by Dan Kois
Dan Kois’ debut novel Vintage Contemporaries has been described as a story of “being young, becoming less young and exploring friendship.” The novel follows Em as she moves to New York City, navigating several big life decisions.
The cover design for this book is a gorgeous painting of several of the themes Kois explores in his novel. The classic motif of a coffee and a cigarette, paired with a pen and paper emphasises the plot of the novel, as Em works in publishing but is struggling to keep up with life. The central image of the polaroid picture shows Em’s close friends, who play a massive part in the story and this further sets up the novel’s narrative. The font style and colour of the book’s cover match its title perfectly and give the book an overall vintage feel. This is my favourite book cover of the year so far as its illustrative and maximalist style is something that is becoming less frequent in recent years. I feel as though the book makes a cosy addition to any bookshelf and the story beneath the cover is just as gorgeous.
Banyan Moon by Thao Thai
Banyan Moon is Thao Thai’s debut novel that follows three generations of Vietnamese American women, spanning from Vietnam in the sixties to Florida in the modern day. The cover is bright and colourful, with a modern white sans serif typeface highlighting the name of the book and the author, giving the cover a contemporary and refreshing look.
The cover’s designer, Ploy Siripant, has given the art a Vietnamese feel with the banyan tree depicted and bright greens and blues in the background. The numerous branches of the tree could be said to represent the women and the twists and turns in the book. The tangled branches of the tree represent the tangling of emotions between the characters.
This is a beautiful cover and is definitely one of our favourites from the first six months of the year 2023. We are very much in love with this eye-catching cover design.
Chlorine by Jade Song
Jade Song’s debut novel Chlorine follows Ren Yu, a young swimmer with a deep connection to water. Ren’s whole life revolves around her identity as a swimmer, taking a darker turn when she indulges in her deepest desire to become a mermaid. The mermaid is a creature prominent in many myths and legends, and is a strong element of the novel as depicted on the cover. Song’s novel combines coming-of-age themes with dark horror elements, touching on a range of issues that affect young girls.
The US cover, designed by Yeon Kim and Kenn Lam, is high up on my favourites list for 2023’s new releases. It depicts a vibrant mermaid tail plunging into the water, surrounded by a border of red to represent themes of maturity and menstruation explored throughout the book. The bold yellow font is striking against the red and is certain to catch the eye of any reader.
Despite its horror elements, Song explained that Chlorine is ultimately about “the longing to be free.”