I have been recently reading a wonderful series, The Chronicles of Chretomaci by Diana Wynne Jones, which I have highly recommended on my other blog, After Potter. While looking for an image to put on the blog, I discovered the British cover of the book, which I discovered to be very different from the American version I saw in the library. This is what led me to ponder why there are such differences between US and British covers as you read in last weeks blog.
This week, I wanted to specifically look at the four books from the Chrestomanci series. I am going to place the covers side by side. Can you guess which are the US covers and which are the UK covers?
Those familiar with Amazon.com have already probably guessed that the ones just underneath are the US editions while the ones on the top are the British editions.
So why the difference? I wish I knew. Quite honestly, I think the US editions are terrible. To me, their dull and muddied covers do not at all depict the story at all. I mean, first of all, if you look at these dull covers, you would think the stories are probably dull as well, which is far from the truth. Also, you might conclude that they are set in the medieval period. Again, this would be a very wrong conclusion. The British covers, on the other hand, really display the vivid and imaginative stories contained within. They have a bit of a Victorian Gothic look, which is closer to the truth (as most of the stories are set in a near Edwardian time with the exception of Witch Week). The UK Witch Week really conveys the forboding of the academy and urgency of the situation into which the Chrestomanci comes.
My favorite is The Lives of Christopher Chant. This one really shows the different worlds Christopher can travel to, and gives a nod to the goddess, who becomes his friend. The US edition seems to indicate that he can do a bit of magic, but that is a very small slice of the book (and honestly, the least important part - it is far more important that he can travel between worlds).
I love the lettering, the colors and the design of all the UK editions. The only one that confuses me a little is the one for The Magicians of Caprona. In this case, they should have depicted some of the characters. I don't recall an elephant being at all important in the story. But then again, the US edition betrays nothing of the story, so I still like the UK version better.
Of course, I purchased the Chronicles of Chrestomanci at a used bookstore. This is actually the cover I have. I quite like this version also, though it doesn't speak much to the story either, but it is still pretty to look at and doesn't embarrass me when I read it on an airplane. It reminds me of an older The Lives of Christopher Chant cover I saw on the Amazon.co.UK site (on the right). The British version is cute, but in this case, I prefer the US one.