The following is a guest post by Mike Phillips who talks about the all important book cover. Keep reading for my review of Mr. Phillips’ new book, The World Below.
Why Book Covers Are So Important
There’s this saying, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover,’ but let’s face it, it happens. When searching for a book the first thing someone is going to notice is the cover. The cover can then draw that person into reading the synopsis. If the synopsis and the cover draw the reader in, they could possibly buy it or put it on their to-be-read list.
My own personal experience with a cover design came with Uniquely Unwelcome. The first edition cover was a hand drawing of a girl looking up at an eagle. While it was a nice drawing, it just wasn’t up to par with other Fantasy covers. It became very apparent to me, especially after a few readers recommended that I change the cover, that a change was indeed needed.
Why did I decide to use a hand drawing? Well it was kind of a dream of mine. My husband is a great artist. He’s also my support system. Whenever I’m frustrated, stuck on an idea, or just at a complete loss, he’s there. I wanted to pay some tribute to his support and so I thought I would have him do my first cover. From there, I would go with the “traditional covers” but for my first publication I wanted to incorporate him in some way.
My lesson from that, sometimes we have to let go of the smaller dreams/goals to reach the bigger ones. I felt guilty I guess you could say when I told him I thought it was best if we changed the cover. Being a great supporter like he is, he agreed. He was honored that I had tried and that I had even used his art to begin with. So together we picked out the cover for Uniquely Unwelcome and then again with Blood Burdens.
So yes, books are judged by their covers. I’m not saying that every person does this, but most probably do. I’m happy with the new cover for Uniquely Unwelcome and have a paperback edition of both the first edition with my husband’s cover design and the newer edition so I at least have a small token of my little dream.
In ancient times, magical creatures inhabited the earth. They lived on mountaintops, in trees, at the bottom of lakes and rivers. But that was long ago, before the human race declared war on the creatures they feared and hated. Now the enchanted peoples are all but gone. Those few that remain fear being stretched out on an examination table in some secret, governmental facility.
The only place they can hide from the ever increasing number of satellites and smart phones is in the World Below. Mitch Hardy is going through a hard time in his life. In his early twenties, he was working his way through college when he suffered an accident that left him flat broke and physically deformed. When Mitch decides to make a fresh start in a new town, things start looking up. He finds a place to live, a decent job, good friends. He even meets a nice girl. Unknown to Mitch, his new girlfriend is one of the Elder Race, what some call the Faerie Folk. Mitch doesn’t know that Elizabeth is looking for a father she never knew. The key to finding him is somehow tied up with the mysterious Blade of Caro. Desperate, she steals the Blade from its protector, the despotic ruler of the World Below, the Dragon of Worms, Baron Finkbeiner. When Elizabeth is kidnapped by the Baron, Mitch is pulled into a world or magic and monsters he never imagined.
This was a very riveting book. I really got to feel for Mitch and started rooting for him early on. He’s a hero in every sense of the word, his instincts kicking in any time a friend, stranger or animal is in trouble without giving any thought to his own safety or wellbeing. Some may think Mitch is an idiot since his sense of self preservation appears to be broken but this actually endeared him to me. Hume is another character I grew to love almost immediately. He’s essentially a bad guy for going out to do the Goblin King’s bidding but as his sister is being held captive and it’s obvious the man doesn’t like what he has to do while at the same time trying figure out a way to rescue her from his enemy you start rooting for him too. All the characters are likable, with the exception of Elizabeth, who I found to be fairly manipulative and scheming personally, and I adored the story. It’s a nice blend of fantasy and reality and I can’t wait to start reading the rest of the series. If you’re a fan of Sci-fi/Fantasy stories like Mercedes Lackey’s Elemental Masters series I think you’ll love The World Below.
Mike Phillips is author of The World Below and Reign of the Nightmare Prince. His short stories have appeared in ParAbnormal Digest, Cemetery Moon, Sinister Tales, Beyond Centauri, the World of Myth, Mystic Signals and many others. Online, his work has appeared in Lorelei Signal, Kzine, Bewildering Stories, Midnight Times, and Fringe. He is best known for his Crow Witch and Patrick Donegal series.
Magic sigils were hidden all over the city, but along the Riverwalk powers of earth and water converged. Magic here was strange and unpredictable, but always strong. A star was carved on the nearest of the old cottonwoods. It was ancient magic, made perhaps by the native tribes who once inhabited this place.
Hume could not guess what its purpose was. For all he knew, it would take him away to some desperate corner of the underworld to be forever enslaved. He did nothing to protect himself. He had to let events run their course.
Finding Lady Elizabeth proved impossible. If this stranger had information, then he would surrender himself to free his sister.
A breath of chill air interrupted his thoughts. He shivered.
It was his humanity giving him warning. People who didn’t know any better would attach some old wives’ tale to the feeling, but he was not so blinded by the mundane. No one tread on his future grave. Evil approached.
In the world outside the reach of the cottonwood, the sun escaped below the horizon. Night had come.
Darkness coalesced; growing deeper in this haven below the trees, gathering until the river and the bay and everything beyond the sphere of darkness was lost. A black bird flew to a nearby piling. The crow was mangy and looked only moments from death by old age. It ruffled its ancient feathers and stared at Hume, penetrating his mind.
Unafraid, he stared back, filling his thoughts with a variety of deaths the crow might suffer at his hand. The bird cawed angrily, its harsh voice a show of defiance.
“Let’s get on with it,” he said. “Sunset was an hour ago.”
“Nightfall is now,” snapped the bird.
“Point taken. My mistake.”
The crow’s voice was as harsh as its call. “Patience Hume, your eagerness does you no credit. A lesser being than I might take it as a sign of weakness, but no advantage will I press. I know what it is to have a loved one in danger.”
“Oh? So, is that why you are here? How nice.”
“Yes, I wish to help you, and I have other reasons.”
“What are they?”
“Patience, Hume. Patience” The crow laughed. “We’ll get to that later.”
Another crow flew to the piling. Soon the place within the dark was full of crows. They raced to the piling, circling Hume like a cyclone. He stood still, and though the impossibility of safety seemed assured, he wasn’t touch.
The birds fused together, forming something in the shape of a man. The man was covered in black feathers. He had a crow’s head with a sharp beak and beady eyes. A mantle of greater feathers ringed his neck.
“That’s a little much,” Hume said. “Who are you trying to impress?”
“I must admit I’ve always had the knack for the dramatic. As a show of trust I appear to you as my true self.”
“Does that make you a murder or a man?”
“Ha, ha, quite clever,” said the crow man. “I shall have to remember that one. Yes, quite clever indeed.”
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