Wednesday, May 17, 2017
I Have Michelle Birkby Covered!
For this week's "Cover Off" I haven't chosen a book that I want to read. No, instead I've chosen one that I recently finished and am still smiling about.
What book am I talking about? Michelle Birkby's very first Mrs. Hudson and Mary Watson mystery, The House at Baker Street. This author has taken the one character I've always wanted to know more about from the Sherlock Holmes stories, fleshed her out, and given her a first-rate mystery to solve. The book has been out in the UK for awhile-- in fact, the second book in the series has already been released-- but the US edition of The House at Baker Street won't be available until October. As soon as I found out about it, I didn't feel like waiting, and I'm glad I didn't. So let this serve as a notice to all of you: keep your eyes peeled for this book!
Now... let's take a look at those covers!
Anyone who's been following along with me on these cover comparisons is going to know immediately which one I am NOT going to like, so let's start with that one-- the US cover. Notice that it does borrow a bit of the door from the UK cover, but Mrs. Hudson's door in the US isn't quite as atmospheric. It's been prettied up a bit.
The only "blurb" on the US cover is one that informs us that this is a Mrs. Hudson and Mary Watson investigation, which is good. I have a feeling that the pairing of those two names will attract more folks like me who are intrigued about Mrs. Hudson. Even though I don't always care for these covers divided into thirds, the middle banner with the title isn't bad. It's not particularly eye-catching, but it's not horrible either. It just looks like hundreds of other "women's fiction" covers I've seen and yawned at as I walked past.
The bit that's horrible is the top. A partial woman's head looking down, the top half of her face hidden by her hat. The model looks as though they stuffed her into the first clothes they could find that looked vaguely Victorian-- and they failed. Also... the respectable (and older) Mrs. Hudson wouldn't be caught dead dressing in white like that-- not with Sherlock dripping blood and chemistry experiments all over the place for her to clean up! I'll continue shaking my head in dismay while I move right along to the UK cover.
While not perfect, the UK cover comes much closer to getting it right. Does anyone really need the marketing department's idea of what Mrs. Hudson and Mary Watson look like? No. Let's face it, the title of the book is The House at Baker Street, so we're given an atmospheric look at the front door of the house. It's London at night, so those gaslights are trying to shine through the fog. The gold title with its Victorian curlicues catches the eye. Instead of the overused woman's head to let us know that this book might be of interest to the ladies, the UK cover gives us Sherlockian clues: one, the title (naturally) and two, the caption beneath-- "Behind every great detective, stands a great woman..." And... the lack of a woman on the cover means that men who love to read stories about Sherlock Holmes won't be put off by this one.
Yes, it should be quite clear to everyone that the cover I prefer this week is the UK cover. How something like the cover of a book can be more eye-catching yet more subtle at the same time I don't know, but the UK cover pulls it off.
What say all of you? Which cover do you prefer? US? UK? Neither one? Too close to call? Inquiring minds would love to know!