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Our Top Winter Reads

By Amy Evans, Megan Coote and Juliette Tulloch


As we move from autumn to winter, the Cover Design Evaluation team has picked out some of their favourite winter-themed cover designs to share this week.



The Way Past Winter by Kiran Millwood Hargrave


Written by the author of The Girl of Ink and Stars, The Way Past Winter is the story of a family who live in a cabin in the forest. When their brother goes missing, Mila and her sisters must travel through the eternal winter to find him.


This gorgeous hardback edition features class wintry colours of white, gold and green. The shiny gold in particular stands out and really enhances the cover. The cover features snow, snowflakes, bare branches and floating leaves.


The character shown on the cover – presumably the main character, Mila, is front and centre in the design, while the elements of nature surround her, reflecting how she lives in the forest in a never-ending winter. Overall, this is a beautiful and effective cover design.


Midnight in Everwood by M.A. Kuzniar


A gothic twist on the classic tale of The Nutcracker, Kuzniar’s debut novel focuses on a young ballerina called Marietta who is transported to the realm of Everwood; a magical land where darkness lurks below the surface.


This beautiful winter themed cover design sticks to a cool-toned frosty colour palette but with subtle touches of gold throughout such as the vines framing the edges and the snowflake on the ballerina’s dress. This stops the ballerina from being completely overshadowed by the vast background and brings an element of light to the dark forest.


The elegant silhouette of the ballerina represents the main character, Marietta. Her small, isolated figure amongst the towering trees and against the night sky creates a sense of foreboding, as she appears to be by herself in the woods in the middle of a cold winter's night. The snow-covered trees which surround her against the star-filled sky create a magical winter wonderland atmosphere, perfectly matching the story and making this the perfect winter read.


Wild: Tales From Early Medieval Britain by Amy Jeff


For fans of Amy Jeff’s Storyland, her new historical fiction book Wild: Tales From Early Medieval Britain landed in October of this year to great excitement. The seven chapters of the book blend reflections of travels with retellings of medieval texts. Illustrated with original wood engravings, it is clear that Jeff has paid attention to every detail when it comes to the contents and illustrations. The monochrome fine line detail of the prints, a very popular design trend in the fantasy and crime genres, imitates the dark and rustic atmosphere of the prose and poetry inside. You can see more of Jeff’s prints and work on their website here.


The Bear and The Nightingale by Katherine Arden


Katherine Arden’s The Bear and The Nightingale is a classic winter read if you’re looking for folklore and sorcery in one, and only the first instalment in the Winternight Trilogy. It follows Vasya as she observes the house spirits that guard her home and remembers the stories of the Winter King and old magic, which were frowned upon by the church. Set in the wilderness in a small village, Vasya can sense the darkness growing from the woods near her home. The cover has evolved over the years, and now the most recent design is courtesy of Margaux Carpenter, who specializes in bold prints that focus on the body and nature. You can see more of their work here.


The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien


This classic edition of Tolkien’s The Hobbit features colours drawn directly from Tolkien's own paintings and demonstrates a facsimile of the very first, original cover design. It’s only fitting that such a canonical work of literature still be represented and sold in near-to its original design, as the work is timeless and that’s exactly what the design represents. The cool colour palette and endless tree lines accompanying the snow-capped mountains instantly transport you to the cold climate of Bilbo Baggins’ journey from the Shire. The wintery colours are only enhanced by the thick clouds encroaching the mountain tops, and the ice-blue stream running along the bottom of the cover. For anyone who has read or watched The Hobbit, the cosy atmosphere of the Shire and Bag End in comparison to the nights spent in the snowy mountains will always remind them of winter. The winged creatures silhouetted in the sky are vague in shape, raising the question as to whether they are birds or something more magical. The unknown surrounding the flying figures, as well as the isolated scene, creates an air of mystery preparing the reader for a deeply engrossing read that’s going to take a little longer than your average summer-holiday-sunbed read. This makes The Hobbit the perfect book for the run up to the winter holidays, ready to be read cosied up with a warm drink. The cover immediately transports the reader from their chosen reading spot right into Bilbo’s company before the first page has even been read.

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