Saturday, October 15, 2016

Shelf Candy Saturday No. 191: A Madness So Discreet, by Mindy McGinnis

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!

This is my weekly feature
showcasing beautiful covers!
It also provides information, 
if available, on their 
very talented creators!

Here's my choice for this week!

A Madness So Discreet 
Mindy McGinnis

 Hardcover, 376 pages
 Katherine Tegen Books
October 6, 2015
  Historical Fiction,Mystery, Thriller,
 Young Adult Fiction

My Thoughts About This Cover

This is a totally brilliant cover! I've honestly never come across anything like this before. This image has such a surreal's actually haunting, but not in a supernatural sense. No, it's haunting in the sense that it's disturbing, unsettling, and not easily forgotten.

Two-tiered covers are not always successful, as the composition can give an impression of fragmentation. That's not the case here, because the girl's body is the bridge between the upper and lower sections of this cover. Furthermore, her green dress leads the eye down, then back up again.  

I see this image as symbolic of someone desperately struggling against insanity. The top section of the cover represents the conscious mind, while the bottom section, which is full of roots, represents the unconscious mind. The young woman is struggling to break through to the conscious mind, and sanity, while the unconscious is trying to drag her down into the depths, there to remain.....

The young woman's desperate struggle is evident in the nearly hopeless gesture she's making, as well as in the wildness of her gorgeous hair, whipping behind her. She has broken through to sanity, but doesn't know if she can remain there....

Even though this is a photograph (although, of course, it's been manipulated), there's a 'painterly' quality about it, immediately reminding me of the Pre-Raphealite painters of the 19th-century. These artists paid great attention to detail, and their colors were jewel-like. I love this art movement! 

The Pre-Raphaelites were also known for their obsession with Ophelia, a character from Shakespeare's play, "Hamlet". And I have noticed echoes of this character in this cover image. Had the title not been present, I would have thought that this was a cover for the play!

I am also reminded of Symbolist Art, which, as the name implies, dealt heavily with symbolism. It was a precursor of the Surrealist Movement.

My favorite fine arts photographer, Jerry Uelsmann, has also used surrealism in his work, although his photographs are mostly in black and white, which makes them very powerful, visually speaking. Even though this cover is done in color, it's still very powerful, however.

Anything having to do with the images of the unconscious mind will attract my attention right away! And so it is that this cover joins my collection of beautifully-designed book covers, covers that are superb precisely because of the  high creativity of their creators! 

Last but not least, I LOVE the font used for the title! It's so elegant, so lacy, and indeed, gives an impression of fragility, which alludes to the fragile hold this young woman has on reality. I especially like the ornamental flourishes on each side of the word "so", in the title. These match the color of the dress, and serve to emphasize the word, as well.

The cover art was created by Brooke Shaden, and the design is by Erin Fitzsimmons.

Shaden was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Temple University with bachelor's degrees in film and English. She has developed a fine art photography style based on self-portraiture, with the inclusion of fantasy elements, which places her squarely in the tradition of surrealist art. She incorporates painterly techniques into her work, as well.

Shaden has participated in many group exhibitions, and has also held solo exhibitions of her work. Furthermore, she has published several monographs, and has illustrated book and magazine covers. She has been featured in many magazine articles, and has received several awards. In 2014, she was named one of the Top 10 Most Influential Photographers by Shutter Magazine.

Erin Fitzsimmons has a B.A., as well as Individualized Study with a concentration in Photojournalism, from New York University. She also studied at the School of Visual Arts. She's currently the Associate Art Director at HarperCollins Publishers, and has received several awards. Her cover for Black Boy White School was selected as one of the 50 best book covers of 2011 by AIGA's 50 Books/50 Covers.



What do you think of this 
week's cover?
Please leave a comment
and let me know!


  1. Hey Maria.

    This is another great cover.

    Your commentary as usual is super. Your analysis of the cover from an artistic point of view is enlightening.

    The picture does indeed convey the sense that the woman is being pulled into insanity. It is making me think how visual arts can convey meaning and feelings in ways that words cannot. The feelings of being pulled into a particular kind of madness conveyed so well here. It is conveyed in a way that just words cannot do.

    I hope that you have a great weekend!

    1. Hey, Brian!

      Thanks for the compliment on the post! My college background in art sure comes in handy when I'm analyzing stunning book covers such as this one.

      I'm glad you like this cover, too. It really IS striking! And you're so right about visual art being able to convey meaning much more powerfully than words ever could. You state that the woman is "being pulled into a particular kind of madness". Exactly! That feeling is very clear and powerful; the cover creators have certainly depicted that struggle in a very visceral way!

      Thanks for the TERRIFIC comment!! Hope you have a great weekend, too!! :)

  2. I've always loved this cover so much. I finally broke down and bought it for my Kindle when it was on sale for $1.99. I'd have liked to have the hardback, but I'm seriously running out of book space in my home!

    1. Hi, Barb!

      Yes, it's SO GORGEOUS!! I want this book, too, but in the hardcover edition. You know me -- I prefer print books! On the other hand, I might buy the Kindle edition first, to see if I like the book. If I do, then I will DEFINITELY buy the print edition later on. I'm running out of space, as well, but heck, I'll just stuff the book in one of those purses I have hanging in the closet. What a CRAZY bookworm I am, right? Lol.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment!! :)


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