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  • Writer's pictureIshta Mercurio

Cover Collection 17: Keep This to Yourself, by Tom Ryan, designed by Aphee Messer

Welcome to Cover Collection, my (mostly) weekly blog series in which I get excited about book covers I love and talk about why I love them.

Today, I'm doing something a little different. Usually, I talk about the cover of a book I've read. That allows me to touch on elements of the cover that hint at important plot points without spoiling the book, which lets us think about how a cover designer goes about deciding what to put on a cover. But this time I'm talking about the book that's on the top of my TBR pile. I haven't read it yet--I have some books I'm obliged to read first for a committee I'm on, and I want to do something special for this book because it sounds SO amazing. Something like...I don't tweet my reactions as I read! And that means setting aside a chunk of time, and my book Small World comes out in two days...

The most likely scenario here is that I'm going to stay up all night the night before my book comes out reading this book. Which will be so awesome, I'm basically deciding to do that right now.

But back to what this means! This means that what I say about this book cover will be based on the cover alone: what entices me to pick up this book? What assumptions am I making going in because of this cover design? And then after I read the book, I'll let you all know whether those assumptions were right. (Without spoiling the book, of course!)

Are you ready? Let's talk about the cover of Tom Ryan's YA mystery thriller KEEP THIS TO YOURSELF, which was designed using stock imagery(!) by Aphee Messer. Check. It. Out!

We look out at a large body of water from inside a cave. The opening of the cave is shaped like a male silhouette. The words Keep This To Yourself are in red.


Everything--EVERYTHING--about this cover screams MYSTERY THRILLER! The red lettering, the mist over the water, the fact that we see the water from the vantage point of being inside a cave, the DARKNESS of the cave... This is a textbook mystery thriller cover. I feel like I'm about to read a novel written by Alfred Hitchcock. This cover design nails the tone of the book. (At least, I think it does. And based on the cover copy, I'm right!)

Let's talk about the text. I love the red. Red says blood! Red says...muuuuurder. Red is an excellent choice. And I love that the words are floating on the water and in the mist. Does the water have to do with... Muuuuurder?! And what am I supposed to keep to myself?!?! I have to find out!

I also love the vantage point. The book designer puts us, the reader, in the cave. So who exactly has secrets, here? Is it the murderer, or the murdered friend, or the new guy in town? Or is it...the main character, whose head we're in throughout the course of the book? Or does everyone have their own dangerous secret? Am I stepping into an unreliable narrator situation? I have nothing but tantalizing questions.

Finally, I love that the mouth of the cave we're in is shaped like a silhouette. Whose silhouette is it? Is it the murdered friend's? Why was he murdered? And what was his secret? I love that the silhouette is done using negative space. That says, to me, that the person who this silhouette belongs to is gone. Is it the murdered friend, or the main character, whose secret means that his true self is hidden from others, making him effectively "gone"?

All I know is, I can't wait to find out the answers to these questions! This cover makes me want to dive into this book headfirst. And that means it's done its job.

But what about you? What do YOU like about this cover? Let me know in the comments and we'll continue the conversation!

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