• Ishta Mercurio

Cover Collection 32: Red Hood, written by Elana K. Arnold, designed by Chris Kwon, w/ art by Vault49

Welcome to cover collection, my mostly weekly blog series which I rave about the book covers that I love, and get into the nitty-gritty of why I love them. 

This week, I want to talk about the arresting cover of Elana K Arnold’s YA novel Red Hood, which was designed by Chris Kwon with art by Vault49. Take a look at this!

I want to start by talking about the layout, because the layout is doing a lot of work here. Do you see how the title is huge and in ALL CAPS and right in the middle of the image? And the name of the author is at the top, smaller and all in white, in a pretty normal font. This book says "book for older readers" to me. It's not a fun or whimsical layout; it's very straightforward, very "this is a book, it has a title." It's designed to appeal to YA readers and up, while simultaneously being designed NOT to appeal to readers who are maybe not quite ready to tackle some of the very grown-up topics that this book addresses. It's a fine point of design, and it's one that doesn't get talked about often, but I've seen covers that appeared to aim younger than the book intended, so I think it's worth noting that this cover does a good job of finding the right audience.

And now we need to talk about the title! Both the font and styling are significant. The font is a very, very old-fashioned, very fancy-schmancy type: the R has a serif that curls at the end, and it and the rest of the capital letters (the Ds and the H) have notches cut out at the top and bottom of the vertical bars in the letters. It harkens back to medieval times, and paired with the ornate patterning on the letters, as if they are made of stamped gold, the reader is given an immediate impression that this is a fairytale retelling. (The gray wolf fur on which the letters rest tells us which fairytale is being retold. But I’ll talk more about that wolf fur in a moment.)

Also, look closely at that E. It captures so much! Instead of a traditionally written E, in line with the other letters in the title, this letter is extremely stylized, with the top and bottom lines and the upright that forms the back of the letter all replaced by a ruby-studded sickle moon. That shape is significant to this story for three reasons, first because a moon is significant in all fairytales involving wolves, and the other two of which are less obvious, and which I won’t will spoil here.

But one of them is hinted at in the rubies, and in the smear of blood on the bottom third of the cover, across the wolf pelt.

Can you guess what they hint at? Maybe you can; maybe you can’t. But I bet you want to read the book now to find out!

And you should: it’s a superb read. You can get it online here.*

And thanks for stopping by!

*I am a proud Bookshop affiliate, and I receive a small portion of proceeds from any purchases made through my direct links. Thanks for supporting my blog in this way, and for supporting independent booksellers as well!

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