Monday, April 27, 2015

I've Got Martin Walker Covered!

Tomorrow, one of my favorite authors has a book release in the US, and this novice book cover critic thought she'd trot out the US and UK covers for you to take a look at before you (hopefully) read my review of the book on Tuesday.

Martin Walker is a British author, so his books are released there first. There seems to have been some sort of hold-up with this book because the next Bruno Chief of Police novel, The Patriarch, will be released in August. Do I mind two Brunos in one year? Au contraire, mes amis!

This week's cover comparison is truly interesting because not only are the covers completely different, so are the titles, and that is a particular problem for someone like me who reads a lot of British fiction. I can be innocently browsing the shelves at The Poisoned Pen, come across a favorite author with a title I haven't heard of, and think I've got a brand-new book to read when the same book has been released under two different titles. Not my favorite thing as I'm sure you all understand!

Let's take a look...

Wow, day and night, eh?  It's obvious that the US and UK publishers are trying to appeal to two completely different audiences. I'm about to use a word that you've probably never seen me use before, so brace yourselves. I adore Walker's Bruno Chief of Police series. I love opening these books and immersing myself in French food, French wine, and French culture. But that's not all Walker has to offer. He writes of an area steeped in history, an area that has been shaped by various wars, and he often brings this history into his books. That's exactly what he's done in this latest novel.

The US edition is an obvious appeal to those readers who prefer the total French experience-- the kinder, gentler side of the Bruno series. We're treated to a glimpse of a French village, and the Bruno Chief of Police badge is prominently displayed. The Children Return is a rather ambiguous title. If you look at that cover, you might get the idea that the children are returning from a picnic.

But that's not what's going on at all.

The UK edition is appealing to the historical elements of Walker's story. The children who return in this book have actually been brutalized by war, be it World War II, France's war with Algeria, or the ongoing struggle with Islamic terrorists. This book truly deals with the Children of War, and the cover is stark and bleak. The sun coming up over the mountains reveals the raw truth as well as providing a ray of hope. The UK publisher chose a blurb for the top that emphasizes the fact that they think it's a thriller.

How different could the covers for the same book be?

Now's the really hard part. Which one do I prefer?

Neither cover lies. Each cover reveals a portion of the truth. Neither "truth"-- idyllic French village life or how people must deal with the aftermath of war-- overwhelms the other in the book.

I'd have to say that my vote could go either way depending on my mood. If all is right with my world, I can see myself choosing the US cover. If I'm not feeling so warm and fuzzy, I can see myself choosing the UK cover. Oh I see, you're going to make me choose one, are you? Okay, I will. I choose the UK cover. I may not agree that it's a thriller, but I think it's the more honest representation of what's inside the book.

Now it's your turn. Which cover do you prefer? US? UK? Neither one? Or does it depend on your mood? What's your take on the publishers choosing such different titles and covers? Inquiring minds would love to know!


  1. Count me in as a Walker fan, too, Cathy! And it's interesting how that book is marketed differently in different places (I'm right there with you about the different titles, too!). My preference is for the UK cover. Like you, it wasn't easy though...

    1. No, it wasn't easy because I love both aspects of Walker's books!

  2. Not an author I've read yet. I know. I know. Sigh. In any case, I think I would likely pick up the UK cover first. Bleak, certainly, but seems fitting for the title.

  3. I haven't read any of Martin Walker's books so I looked on Amazon UK to see what else he has written and was surprised to find yet another cover for Children of War - tinted green, a scene of two rows of Lombardy trees leading to fields. Of the three I'd choose the blue tinted UK version.

    I can cope with different covers but giving the same book different titles is most annoying - I've been caught out before buying what I thought was a new book only to find I'd already read the book!

    1. Yes, the green-tinted one is the paperback version.

      I agree with you, Margaret. Different covers I can handle, but different titles? Like you, I've found myself buying duplicate copies because of a title difference.

  4. Gosh, what a pain -- two different titles which could obviously lead readers to buy one of each.

    I think the British cover is more fitting to the concept of "Children of War" returning.
    It's bleak and gives off a feeling of cold, wet roads and something horrible.
    Yes, that is giving off the mood of a thriller.

    The U.S. cover makes the book seem like a nice, cozy French village and one is settling into a comfort read with someone waiting in that house with a cup of tea and some muffins.

    1. Seems as though the majority prefers the UK cover. I wonder what the US publisher would think about that?

  5. Yes, I do, too, considering that most of the time the U.S. publishers want more thrillerish covers.


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