When it comes to reading science-fiction & fantasy, you can’t always judge a book by its cover. Some of the best books I’ve read have terrible covers, like most of the books in Sarah Monette’s Doctrine of Labyrinths series (why the half-naked man?!), the pulpy Lois McMaster Bujold Vorkosigan Saga covers that completely go against the smart science-fiction writing within, and Carol Berg’s Rai-Kirah series, which does at least include a flying male character, but this still isn’t a series I would buy based on the cover alone!
Fortunately, there are also some fabulous science-fiction and fantasy covers out there! Here are my top 5:
1. The Shades of Magic series by V.E. Schwab
I suspect this series will wind up on a lot of people’s lists and rightly so! I LOVE the cover designs for this trilogy. The colour scheme matching the 4 Londons (Red, Black, Grey, and White), the art that includes part of the map of London’s streets in it, and the stylized design of the characters and concepts is just gorgeous. Vivid, unique, and playful, it’s very appropriate for this fast-paced series about magic and travel between worlds.
2. The Dreambloods duology by N. K. Jemisin
I love the covers on most of N.K. Jemisin’s books (her Broken Earth series also has beautiful cover art), but I especially love the art on The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun. The colours are vibrant, the titles are clearly legible, and the moon and sun imagery is a beautiful contrast. The duology is less well known than her two trilogies, but may actually be my favourite Jemisin works. I loved the characters and the world-building, as well as the choice to base the religion on ancient Egypt.
3. The Wayfarers series by Becky Chambers
I have yet to get my hands on a copy of A Closed and Common Orbit, but I love the covers for both it and the first book in the series, The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. The cover art is very simple, which I think is fitting for this series about a long journey through space, but illustrates both the beauty and the loneliness of space.
4. The Traitor Baru Cormorant by Seth Dickinson
The Traitor Baru Cormorant has a theme running through it of masks. Baru’s goal is to infiltrate the Empire of Masks, who colonized her island, rewriting her culture and criminalizing her people’s customs, including disposing of one of her fathers. Yet to do so, she has to wear a figurative mask of her own, burying her sexuality and her true feelings about the empire she’s attempting to gain access to. The cover not only represents this well, but is striking in its own right.
5. The Grisha series by Leigh Bardugo
Since I was a little girl I have always loved St. Basil’s Cathedral. I don’t know what it is about the onion domes and the bright colours that appeals to me so much, but is is one of my favourite buildings and I would love to be able to visit it one day. So to see it, or at least a St. Basil’s inspired building, on these covers really drew me in. It also serves as a quick hint that this is not your typical Western Europe set fantasy book. I loved the Russian-inspired setting and thought it was part of what made this YA fantasy series so unique, and I think the covers clearly convey that.
Those are some of my favourite science-fiction and fantasy book covers. What covers make your list?