By Beccy Fish, Juliette Tulloch and Amy Evans
With the recent celebrations of the Platinum Jubilee, our patriotic enthusiasm has reached an all-time high. From Kings and Queens to castles and crowns, in this issue we shall explore a few of the many books featuring royalty.
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Red, White & Royal Blue is an LGBTQIA+ novel following Alex Claremont-Diaz, the son of the President of the United States, and his romance with the British Prince, Henry. The two pretend to be friends to prevent a huge media wave that would impair Alex’s mother’s campaign for the 2020 election. This cover is quite minimalistic with the title stretched to dominate the space; the colours of the typography match the colours of both US and British flags and provide associations with royalty and diplomacy. On either side of the text, our main characters Alex and Henry are also introduced, passing side glances to indicate the tension between them.
The Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross
Rebecca Ross’s debut The Queen’s Rising mixes fantasy and self-discovery in protagonist Brienna who is desperate to find her passion. With choices between art, music, wit, dramatics and knowledge, Brienna must choose and master one in order to find a patron. However, alongside Brienna’s struggle, there is also the plot to overthrow the King of the rival kingdom in order to restore the rightful Queen… Without the obvious decoration of the crown that sits at the top, the swirling typography and embellishments of gold on this cover makes it easy to identify the book’s fantastical and historical genre. Along with the deep blues in the colour palette, the element of mystery and darkness is also prevalent.
Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel
Vaishnavi Patel’s debut is a powerful retelling of the Indian epic poem, the Ramayana, and its infamous Queen Kaikeyi. As the only daughter of the kingdom of Kekaya, she undergoes a transformation into warrior, diplomat and a most-favoured queen. Once her father banishes her mother, she unearths the magic from the ancient texts her mother used to read to her. The cover design exemplifies the Queen’s Indian head jewellery, a matha patti and the regal gold that solidifies her power and presence. Lisa Pompilio from Orbit designed the cover and you can see more of her work here.
The Dark Star Trilogy by Marlon James
Booker Prize winner Marlon James is back this year with the second instalment in The Dark Star Trilogy, after the success of his first novel Black Leopard, Red Wolf. Recently published in March, Moon Witch, Spider King continues the story of the 177-year-old witch Sogolon, a lost child and a regal chancellor in a mythic world. This sequel traces the same events but is instead narrated through mainly the eyes of Sogolon, drawing on African mythology and James’ rashomon technique. The cover design’s merging of eyes, faces and nature demonstrates that these narratives can be intentionally misleading and draw on the fantastical.
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
The Cruel Prince is the first book in Holly Black’s popular The Folk of the Air series. In the first book, we meet main character Jude, a human girl living in the world of faeries – including the titular “cruel prince” Cardan. While the cover doesn’t give too much away, its relatively simple design is quite appealing and definitely shows that it is going to be a YA fantasy novel. The gold of the crown stands out against the white background and the branches in the background give some extra detail as well as tying in with the links between faeries and nature. However, the front cover design by itself does almost make it seem like the prince will be the protagonist of the book.
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Red Queen is the first entry in Victoria Aveyard’s young adult fantasy series, set in a world where people are either Silvers or Reds, and the Silvers have all the power. The bold cover for this book incorporates both these colours, with the upturned silver crown covered in red blood capturing some of the power dynamics and conflicts at play within this book. Though the cover is definitely eye-catching, the design is solely focused on the crown, with no background images to support it. The minimal design does work visually, but it also means this cover has little to make it stand out within the trend in YA books for covers that centre around crown imagery.