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Rules for Anchorites

Letters from Proxima Thule

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The Habitation of the Blessed Cover
prester john
catvalente
It's not Ghost Rider, I swear!

I'm SUPER curious about y'all's reaction to this--do you like it, does it make you want to buy it, is it evocative? Opinion me, O Livejournal!



I'm not a fan of this cover art at all, to be honest. I don't think it suits Cat's style of writing at all. But of course I shall be buying it anyhow. It's what's inside that counts. :)

I love the blue and gold of the background, and the picture of the woman especially the feathers across the cover. The visual link between the pages and the feathers works great for me.
The man's figure squishes the rest of the picture into something cluttered round the edges, and those banana fingers are unfortunate...

My main bug is the text. I don't like the title font - it's hard to read and too bulky; then the sub-title is in a different colour and totally different style, so my eyes have to jump around to take them both in. Your name is in yet another style, and relatively small so I didn't even notice it at first.

Perhaps the bottom of the picture could be faded darker to make the blurb stand out better.

I don't think I'd take much away from seeing this cover in a bookshop, except 'whoa, busy picture!'. Title and author name aren't highlighted enough to make me stop.

There's a lot that's beautiful about this but all the different parts seem to be fighting for attention and the important bits get lost.

The Good

I like the title setup, with the subtitle in the blue ribbon.
I like the glowing book. This is why I would read the back.
I like the back ground.

The Not-So-Good

Giant "B"/title sizing--I feel like "Blessed" overwhelms the cover.
Tiny author name--I actually had to hunt for it. Bolder font?
Font choice--I get the whole medieval calligraphy thing but it was just hard to read and what will the spine look like?
Cover elements--a bit busy and I had to figure out what was behind his head.
HIS HANDS--EW EW EW! It looks like his left pinky is utterly broken or dislocated. His hands look lumpy and just bad.
The woman--Just looking at the cover, I have no idea why she is there, who she is, or if she is important.

Overall, I would pick this up to read the back because Prester John's face is compelling and the glowing book indicates magic. Buying it would depend on if I liked how the story sounded.


It's colorful, it's eye-catching; it's not perfect, but I like it well enough. It doesn't say "put this book back" or anything to me.

More specific thoughts:

- The font plus the man's shaved head and general features said immediately "Medieval European (fantasy!Catholic) monk" to me. It was a second later that the woman's features registered as an Indian-looking element to the story, but it was only belatedly that the man's outfit registered as suggesting that maybe the primary element wasn't meant to be a fantasy-European POV with other cultures as foreign to the POV. (His coat/robe/whatever is awesome, but the book -- also awesome, eye-catching and a great mimic of her feathers -- obscures a lot of it.)

I had to look up Prester John, by the way, so that subtitle didn't provide any instant story-context. I hadn't heard of him before.

- I don't find the blackletter font unreadable -- the capital H is a bit obscure, but not bad -- but I do find it too big for this busy a cover. You've got a title and a subtitle and a "volume one" and an author's name and a pull quote, all of that fitting on a cover with a visually busy picture besides, and my eye doesn't know where to go after it's read that big yellow title. Certainly the author's name is what caught my eye last, which is probably not how you want it.

Cover: my impressions echo comments you've already received -- too visually busy; title and sub-title text not set in very balanced or pleasing way.

On another note, re: the Amazon listing (and aside from the oddity of the "Ghost Rider" mistake), could you *please* have someone on the Amazon staff correct the grammatical errors in the description? See:

"....a miraculous tree who's fruits are books... books which chronicle ..."

WHOSE and BOOKS *THAT* CHRONICLE

Really exasperating.

...sorry -- should have mentioned that I very much enjoy your writing, and the cover could be a cast-off paper wrapper from a Big Mac, and I'd still buy the book....

I'm sorry to say that this cover looks like a good candidate for submission here: http://www.goodshowsir.co.uk/
Very busy and hard to read with graphics that don't tell you much about the story.
Then again cover art and copy is always a problem for me. Possibly because I'm old, have poor vision and bi-focals.
Just out of curiosity is the character with the book supposed to be bald?
Hair seems to be the one thing cover artist mess up the most frequently.

I would expect to see this in YA Fantasy, and would skip it completely b/c of the poor cover image. There are a few D&D/RPG books on my shelf with more eye-catching designs, and their authors have won no awards that I know of. (Wtf is with his hands, seriously? And where the heck is your name?)

I'll buy the PDF for my Ipod, but I wouldn't put this book next to The Orphan's Tales on my shelf. It's not nearly as artistic, though from what I've read/heard, the story is phenomenal.

Um. I hate to say this, but personally I find it kind of hideous. This is exactly the sort of cover that makes me not want to buy a book (and is the reason why, despite the fact that I'm drawn to fantasy stories on the basis of literary taste, I still tend to avoid the fantasy section of bookstores and libraries, because on an aesthetic basis...I get annoyed). It's gaudy and generic and just...doesn't have a lot of class. (From what I hear it's also an inaccurate portrayal of the characters, which increases the annoyance factor exponentially.)

From a design sense, it's way, way too busy. The eye just kind of bounces all over the place without having a clear path to follow and whoa, what is with the composition; this is fail on like...a basic drawing class level. And why the heck are there, what, four or five different fonts used on the cover? The title alone must be using at least 3 (and is also in three different colors, to boot), which is so unnecessary. Not to mentions obnoxious to try and read. With a long title like that; breaking it up all over the places by switching up the font and colors every two words or so is just...why? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT.

Honestly the cover just annoys me enough in itself, and I'm even more super annoyed because your writing is absolutely beautiful and breathtaking, and...I don't know, maybe it's just me, but I feel like this cover does your writing a huge disservice.

I realize I'm late to the party here, but this cover makes me think of the crappy fantasy novels that I don't ever buy even at library bag sales. Very generic and uninspired. Is that white stuff his hair or smoke?

Also, I had to look three times before I found your name.

It's meant to be feathers. Not actually appropriate to the character at all. Presuming that's who I think it is, but I really don't know.

The font on the main title reminds me of the ambigrams in Dan Brown's Angels & Demons... you know, the things that were equally unreadable no matter which way you turned the page.


All I can say is GAAAAAAHHH!!!

1) Your name is frigging tiny considering the amount of popularity you have.
2) The cover is dark as fuck and will disappear on a white sidewalk in broad daylight at noon.
3) WTF?
4) I've seen people spend $50 on a cover and do stuff that pisses all over this so I'm guessing the artist got paid in bazooka bubblegum.
5) Not sure how I missed this before but this is wack. I'll be sending an email to nightshade.

Sorry about this.

I totally hate it.

I kinda wanna make fun of it, and I would not feel inclined to buy this book based on the cover. In fact, there's so much going on there that it just.... no.

The dude's hands are done much BETTER than I could ever manage, and yet....

Could Kyle Cassidy provide you with a cover shot? I am SURE he's got a monk's outfit he can use.

This cover is an odd choice.

If I was at a bookstore and browsing the cover says to me:
-Mainstream/generic fantasy with nothing new.
-That the book contains orientalizing.
-The floaty white looking lady with mehndi makes me suspect poorly researched orientalized fantasy.
-The style looks like some YA novels from a couple years ago, which reinforces the idea that this book is extruded fantasy product.
-Most importantly, I'm not immediately sure who the author is or what the title is. In person it might be crisper/more clear. But still.


It's not hideous, though it has some technical flaws such the overly large hands and the main guy looking like China Miéville. It's an acceptable cover for a generic mid list re-tread of adventures had by white people in "exotic" lands. However, given that isn't what your novel is actually about, this is a huge issue.

I would absolutely pick this up off a shelf because it has your name on it and I am enamored with everything about the way you write. If it wasn't by you, I hate to say that I would want to be given money to take it home with me :x

Have just now seen your tweet about the redesign - hooray! I can't imagine your words being trapped inside such a tragic shell. It would be like an avocado. . . scary alligator egg on the outside, nutritious and delicious on the inside.