Sunday, February 5, 2017

Shelf Candy Saturday No. 202: The Black North, by Nigel McDowell

Welcome to Shelf Candy Saturday!

***Late Edition***
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!

The Black North
Nigel McDowell 
Trade Paperback, 432 pages
Hot Key Books, 
June 5, 2014 
   Fantasy, Middle-Grade Fiction,   
Young Adult Fiction

My Thoughts About This Cover

This is such a stunning cover! I know it's not the first time I've praised a cover in this way, but really, this IS a stunning cover. It's also a bit creepy..... Usually, I would never have picked such a cover but, in this case, the overall design totally captivated me! It's just so....well, PERFECT. Besides, I have always loved circles, so of course this image immediately appealed to me. 

On this cover, the circle has a magical glow which seems to come from the very magical city at the base of it. And then there are the eerie, creepy images around that circle... There are just so many associations I get from these images. The glowing circle makes me think of a portal leading into the land of the Fae, which is reinforced by the faeries floating above, in the upper left-hand corner. The scary black face at the top of the circle immediately brought to mind the land of Mordor, and, of course, the Dark Lord, Sauron (this is from Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings). The glowing magical city reminded me of the castles at Disney World and Disneyland, in Florida and California, respectively. It also reminded me of the Emerald City, from the movie "The Wizard of Oz". The two young heroes at the bottom of the cover instantly made me think of Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, from the Harry Potter series.

So there are many fantasy references here! Not that the cover designer was consciously trying to bring in these references, though. I think it's just that these great fantasy works have become so much a part of American -- and, in fact, world culture -- that they are even part of our subconscious minds. So this is really a very effective cover, in that regard.

Visually, again I must say that the design is stunning. That glowing circle frames the title very nicely, thus highlighting its rather sinister feel. The font used, which has been altered to give a very stark look, reinforces that. 

The author's name has been placed outside the cover image. This, I think, makes the design even better, as the name does not interfere at all with the rest of the cover.

I also like that this image is surrounded by white, which somehow makes the main image very ominous-looking.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any information about the brilliant designer of this great cover..... The Amazon preview was no help at all. When I did a Google search, the only link I found was for an article at the Hot Key Books website. The article, whose author is merely identified as "Jan from the Design Department", discusses the development of this cover to its final form. And that's it. Also included in the article is a picture of the cover for another McDowell book, Tall Tales from Pitch End, which has a similar dark feel to it. Jan mentions that this is what the publisher was looking for.   

I am providing the link to this article below. It's very disappointing to find an AMAZING cover like this one, and not be able to provide the name of the highly talented artist who created it...  If I am able to dig up his or her identity, along with more information, I will definitely come back and include it in this post.    

Online Links
The Black North Cover 


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


  1. That cover is gorgeous!! And your analysis is excellent as always :)
    Happy reading for the week ahead, Maria!! <3 <3

    Amy @ A Magical World Of Words

    1. Hi, Amy!

      Yes, isn't it? It's also creepy, but so well-designed!

      Thanks for the nice comment! Happy reading week to you, too!! <3 <3 :) :)

  2. This is a great choice Maria. This cover is powerful and striking. The contrast between back and white, as well as between ominous and benevolent images is so striking. I get the sense that this book is full of very bad things as well as very good things.

    The use of eyes, which are just depicted as white spots, really creates a foreboding feel.

    1. Hi, Brian!

      I'm so glad you agree that this is a great cover!

      Your observations are right on the money! The contrasts you mention are indeed what make this cover so very effective. The depiction of the eyes as merely white spots, with a black background, do indeed give an overall foreboding feel.

      I do wish I could have gotten the artist's name.... It really bothers me when book publishers don't give enough credit to book cover designers and illustrators. They're ones who give readers a first impression of the book, motivating them to pick it up and look through it.

      Thanks so much for the GREAT comment!! Hope you're having a nice day!! <) :) :)

  3. It certainly is creepy isn't it?... but astute analysis as always!

    1. Hi, Verushka!

      Yes, it is! I usually don't feature creepy covers, but I had to make an exception with this one, as it's SO stunning, and so effective!

      Thanks for the visit and the nice comment!! <3 :)


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