Jul 19, 2010

Covering Covers: Shades of Milk and Honey - Mary Robinette Kowal

Cover Artist: Terry Rohrbach of BaseArtCo

I'm reading Shades of Milk and Honey now. I find this cover very peculiar. It's by no means bad -- the homage to period paintings is beautiful and the font choice feels natural with the art. I just feel like the marketing is going in two different directions (assuming of course, that this book will be shelved with the science fiction and fantasy books and not with period pieces over in Regular Lit). That would mean that the people the cover is most likely going to appeal to will not see it and the people who are mostly likely going to see the cover, won't pick it up. And I'm afraid that this possible distinction could negatively impact the beginning of a hugely promising career. Hopefully, I'm just plain wrong (about the negative impact, not the hugely promising bit).

If you are of the science fictiod and fantasy mindset and would not pick up this book based on the cover, at least read the summary of the book:
I do think that the cover is indicitative of the story. As of the halfway mark, Shades of Milk and Honey is a very quiet, intimate novel, especially compared to what I am used to. Shades is focused tightly on the two young girls and their attempts to find a desireable husband. So many of the books I read threaten the end of something major (be it planet, universe, fantasy world, United States, human race, etc.) and this change of pace is very welcome. In her short fiction, Kowal's stood out for her exceptional dialogue and for crafting realistic human relationships in only a few pages. So far, her debut novel is more of the same.
Shades of Milk and Honey is exactly what we could expect from Jane Austen if she had been a fantasy writer: Pride and Prejudice meets Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It is an intimate portrait of a woman, Jane, and her quest for love in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality.

Jane and her sister Melody vie for the attentions of eligible men, and while Jane’s skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face. When Jane realizes that one of Melody’s suitors is set on taking advantage of her sister for the sake of her dowry, she pushes her skills to the limit of what her body can withstand in order to set things right—and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.
Shades of Milk and Honey comes out from Tor on August 3rd. Look for a review in the next few weeks.

1 comment:

  1. I definitely see your point, but I still think the cover will attract the right audience in the end, which is definitely more female. It might not be magical enough for die-hard Fantasy readers, but it should still do the trick. My wife read this a couple weeks back and absolutely loved it. I hoping to get her to do a review. She rarely reads Fantasy. My sister in-law is now giving it a try and I showed her the cover, which drew her in. She is a Fantasy and Jane Austen fan so that is the perfect storm right there for Mary.


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