Saturday, July 21, 2012

Shelf Candy Saturday #28: Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman

This wonderful book meme/blog hop
is hosted by
Stephanie @

The purpose of this feature is to display
a beautiful book cover,
with information, if available,
about the cover illustrator,
photographer, and/or designer.

For all the participation rules,
just click

Here's my choice for this week!

(Seraphina #1)
Hardcover, 467 pages
Random House Children's Books
July 10, 2012
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

Why do I love this cover?

Intricate, monotone drawings have always fascinated me.  This cover is a great example of this type of drawing!  It has a lot of detail, just beautifully done.  The medieval-looking buildings are precisely rendered, the play of light and shadow leading the eye from one to the other, until the very unusual-looking one in  the background is noticed.  The buildings in the foreground could be found in any European city, but the one looming in the background is very obviously a fantasy building, and contrasts sharply with the other buildings.  It also appears to be shrouded in mist.  Perhaps this hints at another, fairy-tale dimension, peeking out into the real world...

The spires on some of the buildings -- one of which is a cathedral -- lead the eye upward, where the viewer is surprised by the sight of a huge dragon flying over the city, its mouth agape.  Perhaps it senses some threat.

The sky is beautifully done, as well; the clouds echo the feeling we get from the buildings, that it's a late afternoon, most likely in the fall.  

I also love the sepia/brown tones used in this cover.  I don't think black and white would have worked here.  These tones add to the overall fantasy/medieval flavor of the scene.

The font used for the title is an appropriately medieval-looking one, and also adds to the entire image.  The letters are raised, and done in a gold tone that complements the other tones used in the cover. 

This type of drawing reminds me of an etching.  For those who are not familiar with this art technique, it's a drawing done with a pointed tool, on a metal plate (usually copper) covered with a thick, protective, waxy liquid which is resistant to acid.  Once the drawing is finished, the plate is immersed in a tray full of acid for a specific amount of time.  The acid will eat away at the metal wherever it's not protected by the waxy liquid.  The artist can manipulate the details on the etching by going through this process several times.  Once satisfied, the artist will then clean off the plate, cover it with ink, rubbing off the excess so that it will collect only in the etched lines, and put a sheet of special paper over it.  The plate, with the paper on top, is then run through a press, so that the image will be printed on the paper.  

In researching the cover artist, I discovered that he does engravings and woodcuts, not etchings.  For the engraving procedure, the artist cuts into the metal plate with a tool known as a burin.  No acid bath is required.  The finished product is created in the same way as the etching.  Woodcuts are done in a similar manner, but a slab of wood is used instead.

The highly talented artist for this cover is
Andrew Davidson.

From the Artist's Website

Since studying Graphic Design and graduating from the Royal College of Art in London in 1982, I have been fortunate to have employed both design and drawing in my work.

My gouache paintings and wood engraved artwork can now be scanned and e-mailed to all corners of the world. For me it is essentially a hand crafted process working with French and Japanese made paper, engraving on English Boxwood and printing the blocks on a 1859 Albion
hand press.

Using these qualities, I have worked with talented designers on both interesting and varied commissions, from packaging and annual reports to Royal Mail postage stamps and designs for the glass doors at Wimbledon's Centre Court.

You can find Andrew Davidson's artwork
at his website, HERE.

You can find more of his work

The book jacket design is by
Heather Palisi.
Unfortunately, I was unable to find
any information about her.

So what do you think of my choice?
What beautiful cover(s)
are you featuring this week?


  1. I have love the Seraphina cover from the first moment that I saw it. The thing is, I thought that this was pure illustration, which takes a lot of talent, but engraving? Wow, I am even more impressed. What an interesting technique. The shading and all the intricate detail is amazing. Breathtaking, really. Wonderful pick. Thank you for sharing the artist info. I love getting the inside information on great cover artists.

  2. Hi, Steph!

    Yes, DAvidson has loads of talent, because this is a rather time-consuming technique. He does the engravings the old-fashioned way, too -- by hand.

    I love getting information on the cover artist, too, as well as seeing it included in other bloggers' SCS posts. It's fascinating! I wish Lee @shewolfreads had posted today. Her interviews with cover artists are so interesting!!

    Thanks for your wonderful comment!! : )

  3. Once again, great choice of cover art Maria.

    While I love the modern looking bright artwork on many modern science fiction and fantasy covers this one is a nice change of pace. This may be a little far fetched, but it reminds me of the look of some of the 1920's and 1930's era classic horror films.

  4. Lee does remarkable interviews. She is not participating in SC as often. It looks like she is trying new things, including changing her blog up a bit. It looks terrific.

  5. Hey, Brian!

    I agree -- this is really a nice change of pace! As for the classic horror films (I assume you're referring to movie posters), I'm not that familiar with them, but I have seen one or two along the way. I can see where you would draw a parallel. This book is pure fantasy, I hope, as I don't like the horror genre at all.

    Thanks for commenting!! : )

  6. Hi, again, Steph!

    Yes, she does!! I thought that was a very creative idea she had, doing artist interviews for SCS. I'll swing by her blog and see what she's up to. I'd like her to keep doing these interviews, though! Hope she decides to come back...

    Thanks for commenting again!! : )

  7. I love your choice this week. It is a nice change from the usual covers we find in abundance nowadays. Thanks for sharing and for the info on the artist.

  8. Hey, Lis!

    Yes, indeed, this cover is really a nice change of pace. I'm glad you love it!

    You're very welcome for the share, and thanks for commenting!! : )

  9. Hi Maria! I haven't been by in a while but I am so excited to be here today!! Your blog is looking wonderful! I love the new header picture.
    Your shelf candy choice is beautiful. I love this cover and title. It looks like an aged pencil drawing of a long forgotten fairy tale. My favorite element is the dragon. Such beautiful detail. Thank you for sharing this wonderful cover!

  10. Hi, Cambria!

    Thank you so much for complimenting my blog and Shelf Candy choice!! I really appreciate it!!

    Yes, this cover does indeed look like an aged drawing, doesn't it? Glad you love it!

    Thanks again for your very nice words!!! : )

  11. Wonderful cover choice! Love that it looks like an old drawing which also gives it a gothic feel. Great choice!

  12. Hey, Lee!

    I love the "Old Master" look to this drawing, too!

    Thank you so much for such a wonderful comment!! : )


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