“Cover Crush” is an idea conceived by Erin at Flashlight Commentary and made into a fun series at indieBRAG featuring B.R.A.G. Medallion-winning books and their fabulous cover images. Of course, some of my fellow interviewers and I wanted in on the action, so you’ll see the series appear here periodically as well as over at indieBRAG and interviewers’ blogs, too, such as at A Bookaholic Swede, Layered Pages and 2 Kids and Tired Books.
Now I’m no professional artist, but as Erin says of herself, I am a consumer and like many people (whether they admit it or not!), my initial attraction to a book often begins with the cover image. I know what I like and if I see something that somehow links to an interest—a jacket design with lotus or peonies, for example, triggering an idea that the volume might have a Persian theme—I’m more likely to further investigate. Naturally not everyone will reach for the same titles, nor will we all agree upon what the images convey. Sometimes we don’t even come to our choices in the same manner.
Even a recommended work or one whose blurb initially caught my attention doesn’t escape scrutiny of its cover, for I occasionally gaze at it, seeing in its features the story, feeling its mood or interpreting meaningful details within the scene or design. At the very least a successful jacket will trigger the notion that this book is a good match for the person studying it. But a really fantastic image will go one step further and unite reader and story by eliciting some sensation or possibly emotion. Of course what the author has in mind is not necessarily apparent to the potential audience, but something beckoning will initiate that unification on some level.
In the case of Anna Belfrage’s A Rip in the Veil, the illustration and title font simply invite exploration. As the blurb reveals, Alexandra Lind, on a muggy night in 2002, encounters a freak thunderstorm resulting in a rip in the veil dividing time. Alex is catapulted into 1658, where she meets up with escaped convict Matthew Graham as he makes his way back to his Scottish estate. Apart from this brutal shift and the need to come to terms with her fate, eventually arises the question not only of how Alex might return to her native time. Will she want to?
An excellent blurb that tickles the curiosity beyond the draw of time travel, and one hinted at on the cover image. Alex is seen walking away from our perspective, her back to us. Clearly she is moving toward another world; her back indicates this. However, implicit in our questioning also remains the timing. Does this scene represent the moment she first finds herself in 17th century Scotland? The measured pace she seems to be taking—the space between her feet as she walks is quite small—indicates hesitation, but is it her new surroundings she hangs back from? Or is return to her own time what lay ahead and she only reluctantly moves toward it? Her stiff posture contributes to the understanding of her feelings, but for which era, for a new audience, is as yet unknown.
Even when later into the reading and questions begin to be answered, there still remain possibilities, perhaps of Alex, in her self-awareness, recalling the moment. This is hinted at as well on the cover as a whole, serving a dual purpose—is this indeed Alex in her own memory, or are we watching her through the gauzy veil draped in front of the image? The dreamy, filmy picture reaching us gives readers a sense of the divide between time, even triggers the consideration of another age really being quite close to us, just on the other side of that thin veil, and yet so far away.
Other elements, too, usher in a sense of place and time, such as the map very lightly embedded at the top, fading into the sky above Alex. The earthy colors are soft and subtle, reminiscent of old-world clothing. The title font is old fashioned, conjuring memories of parchment documents; a deliberate, practiced hand; sensation of another epoch. Not quite as subtle or soft are the images of a dead tree and branches upended in the mud, akin to the aftermath of a tsunami, as if that behind is dead to Alex. There are no flowers as there are ahead of her, no trees stretched out awaiting a new bloom, the promise of new life.
So we see all this, this imagery that creates a sensation of longing, and it beckons to Alex. But what exactly is it or, more precisely, when is it? Having read the novel (several times) I can tell you that even if you knew the answer, the greater satisfaction comes from reading about Alex’s journey. Not unlike that beckoning Alex in her own choices, we too elect to enter her world, experience the unification and see where—and when—it may take us.