Saturday, 16 October 2010

warning: may contain biting

I really admire Gollancz as they have some amazing authors on their books (although Orion's site would massively benefit from a genre-specific search engine *growl*), but they seem to be catering to readers who don't like their books to surprise them. Harking back to the film industry's 'Contains mild peril' warnings for viewers of a more sensitive disposition, Gollancz have inserted this panel on the cover of the first in Chloe Neill's Chicagoland Vampires series. It gets a big red tick for 'Gothic' and 'action packed' and a little one for 'sexy', if you're feeling that way inclined. In a self-consciously hopeful gesture, 'funny' is awarded a small tick too (and a smiley face. With fangs).

I think this could be applied to pre-existing SFF titles too in order to fully prepare readers for what's in store for them between the covers. Neil Gaiman's American Gods: Brooding: TICK / Epic: TICK / Spiders: tick / Gods: TICK / Sexy: tick.

Or not.

I bought this book online wanting to read some of Gollancz's Urban Fantasy and as Neill had just released her latest in the Chicagoland Vampires series, Twice Bitten, I thought an obvious place to start would be at the beginning. If I'd have seen this book in a shop first I might not have bought it. I'm a cover-judger and I think that publishers can have faith in their readership to not be put off by a book because they weren't expecting the vampire novel to be that *picture of a bat*.

The other elements of the design are standard Urban Fantasy fare. Photo of a girl: TICK / cityscape: TICK / weapon: TICK / absence of fantasy: TICK.

The story begins with Neill's female protagonist Merit joining the ranks of the not-so-undead, so I will now go and read my *smiley face with fangs/lips/picture of a bat* new book, suspending judgement in the hope that there are a few narrative surprises that can't be explained with a few mobile-friendly smileys.

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