Cover Contest 2003

Alternate Reality Covers

(Jann "Jaycee" Muhlhauser, Ballot Chair)

The Alternate Reality category is a favorite with many because of the creative and innovative images showcased on the covers. When voters made their picks, they most often chose the cover they felt best reflected that AR feeling. To some that meant an eerie and mysterious image, while others looked for something more ethereal and fantasy-like.

Ballot chair Jaycee found that all the covers were great in their own way. She adds these thoughts about the future of the category: "I'm delighted to see the new romantic fantasy line (Luna) come out, and if Charmed Destiny is any indication of the future, I'm positive we'll be seeing several of their covers in next year's contest."

St. Martin's Press
Cover artist: Unknown

Dance with the Devil won this category by a comfortable margin, and the reason was pretty obvious. Sometimes a cover wins because of its beautiful soft landscape or lovely color tones, and sometimes—well, it's all about the eye candy. This was one of those times. About 90% of the comments mentioned the hot guy on the cover.

When Deborah stated her reason for making this choice, she said: "Oh, my stars. You have to ask??"

Caseyanna was even more forthright: "A handsome man gets my vote every time. I liked the color and composition of The Selkie, but I don't want a naked woman on my book cover, I'm buying this book, not my husband."

Tabitha liked the mood of the cover as well as the man pictured: "Mysterious and sensual, this cover is just plain hot!

Others, like Carol, thought it was artistically attractive (but that guy was definitely a bonus): "[It's] dramatic, eye catching. It's very hard to miss with blue, black, white, high contrast—not to mention a great looking hero with wonderful blue eyes."

St. Martin's Press
Cover artist: Vince Natale
Book design: Jonathan Bennett

Minion finished a strong second. Though voters used words like "intriguing," "dangerous," and "sexy," the most common adjective used to describe this cover was "bad-ass." The strong, knife-wielding woman was a huge hit. In fact, many voters who saw the cover for the first time in the contest professed a desire to go out and find the book immediately (if that's not a sign of the cover's effectiveness, I don't know what is).

Cydi liked the dangerous feel: "I like the stiletto in her hand, and the 'bad-ass' attitude. Definitely a book I'd pick up just because of the cover."

The cover also spoke to Manjari: "Without even showing her face, the woman in the image looks both strong and determined, presumably characteristics needed in a vampire huntress. I like the lettering—seems 'vampire-y' to me."

AAR/Coverballot's Jennifer thought the cover was one of the best of the year—in any category: "This is one of my very favorite covers of the year. I just think this image is stylish and riveting. Everything about it, from the woman's little silver earrings to the bird tattoo in the small of her back, makes me want to pick up the book and read more."

Cover artist: Franco Accornero

In third place was Night Fires, a cover readers admired for its mysterious, gothic feel.

Elaine thought the cover was intelligent, and liked the "melancholy, blue tones." She also liked its "dark and stormy night look."

Loraine liked the cover's mystery: "I loved this cover and bought it new at the store as it really just caught my attention. Love the mysterious feel to it and just a hint of the sexy, mysterious man at the left."

Cheryl also found herself drawn in by the mysterious man: "I was immediately struck by the classic Gothic image, but it was only on closer examination that I saw the man on the left! He had blended into the architecture so well that I hadn't seen him, so then it became one of those 'Can you see this?' visual puzzles linking the man to the Gothic. Kind of cool."

Cover artist: Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

Charmed Destinies came in fourth. Voters who chose it admired the soft colors, stained glass look, and fantasy feeling. More than one appreciated the fact that it wasn't embarrassing.

A. King was the most succinct: "No breasts. No chests. [I] can take it out in public."

Others, like AAR's Nicole, appreciated that it lacked the ominous quality of some of the other choices: "The color—light, bright and airy—is such a refreshing change from other dark and ominous AR covers."

Cora agreed: "I love the way this cover evokes the Art Noveau style. This could almost be a painting by Alphonse Mucha. And the otherworldly look of the woman clearly indicates that this is fantasy, while the rose-salmon colour scheme indicates romance. A pleasant change from all those haunted house or sexy vampire covers."

Cover artist: Unknown

Coming in fifth was The Selkie. Those who voted for it found it artistic, beautiful, and otherworldly.

Kestra had this to say: "Really lovely use of color—the peachy light and skin tones are set off by the cool blue lettering, and the model's pose looks dreamy and restful. Very nice piece of art."

It also caught the eye of Coverballot member Marian, who "loved the colors and the subject matter."

AAR's Liz reads a lot of paranormal romances, and this was her favorite cover of the bunch: "I usually don't go for a 'person' cover, but this one just captures what I think a selkie would do. (If she was a gorgeous, slinky woman, anyway) I think the waves/mist/rocks behind her have great ethereal elements."

It got my vote as well; I loved the lighting and the gorgeous execution.

Cover artist: Brad Springer

The sixth place cover was Killing Moon. Some voters who chose other covers mentioned that it was difficult to figure out exactly what this cover was. Ironically, that's exactly what many voters liked about it. Margaret said: "This is one of the most interesting, most striking covers I've seen. You can look at it and see all sorts of things in those shadows. Grabs your attention and holds on." Nancy agreed: "It's cool the way the forest comes through the silhouette, you really have to look at this cover to get it all."

AAR/Coverballot's Teresa thought the entire slate was strong, but this was her favorite of the bunch: "For me, Killing Moon is the best of all. Creative, eye-catching and haunting all at once, and looks better every time I see it. Makes me want to read the book too!"

It was also the favorite of ballot chair Jaycee: "From the moment this one was nominated it became my favorite cover and I never wavered in that decision. One of the things I love about it (and many people hate) is that nothing is obvious here. At first, you see a woman in shadow, sitting with her head on her knees. Then you see the wolf (her inner self??), then the branches of the trees which are part of her spine, knees, and upper body. Having her silhouetted against the light orange background with the moon in the corner only adds to the drama of the scene. Is she fighting her inner self, dreading the change she knows is coming but which she has no control over? The only way to know is to read the book. That's what a cover is supposed to do—draw your interest to the book."

Cover artist: unknown

In seventh place was Shades of Winter. Voters who chose it expressed sentiments similar to those expressed by the Night Fires voters. They liked the mysterious, spooky house, the aura of mystery, and the intrigue.

Maria liked the sinister figure in the window.

Myretta found it "very evocative," and added, "I shiver when I see it."

Cover artist: Richard Newton

Katherine found it intriguing as well: "I don't usually read alternate reality novels but this cover would make me buy it. It is mysterious without being overdone."

My Lord Vampire came in eighth. Voters admired its red and black color scheme and clear depiction of the hero and heroine. A couple mentioned that they wouldn't mind getting bitten by this guy. Malvina said: "Gosh, is he or isn't he a vampire? A dark background with a scrumptious touch of blood-red to heighten the sensual tension. Whatever he is, feasting on her is obviously high on his list of priorities! :)"

Coverballot's Linnae made it her pick as well: "I love the heroine's red velvet dress and the way his cape is blowing gently behind him. Everything works—the colors, the font and the couple's embrace create the portrait of a vampire moving in for the bite of immortality."


Cover artist: Unknown

The ninth place cover was Two by Twilight. The book's author, Maggie Shayne, has had two of her covers in the contest before, and last year hers was the winner.

Erin has noticed the arresting covers in the past, and she gave this one her vote as well: "Even though I've never read Maggie Shayne's books, I always stop to see her latest cover. They are always so artistic and different."

It was Sarah's choice as well: "Two by Twilight is spooky and ethereal and makes me want to know what title's about and who this haunting woman is."

Cover artist: Unknown

Wicked Charms took the tenth spot. Voters liked that it fit the story—and that the man is only in the mirror.

Brenna said: "The double take when you realize the man is only in the mirror is great! It takes a split second to sink in."

Coverballot's Mary Lynne chose it as well: "I like the deceptive simplicity of this cover. You have to look at it a couple of times before you realize that the mirror is not reflecting reality. And heck, I think we all wish our mirror would offer this particular reflection every once in a while! :-) It's a nice play on a conventional historical cover."

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