Apr 9 2012 9:30am

When Awful, Awful Covers Happen to Great Books

We’ve talked the Worst Romance Covers Ever, but what about when a fantastic book is saddled with a horrific cover?

Not just a ’wince because there’s a man’s naked chest on there and some florid script’ cover, but one that is actively bad—maybe the hero looks like he’s a few sandwiches short of a picnic, or the heroine’s neck is all twisted around, or something that is just awful.

And if the cover happens to a great book? Even more unfair!

So—what’s the worst cover for the greatest book?

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Robin Bradford
1. RobinBradford
Funny, I was also going to mention an Anne Stuart book. To Love a Dark Lord is an AMAZING book. But the cover? You have to go to amazon and peek at the out of print pb cover to really enjoy in all its glory.
Mandi Schreiner
2. smexybooks
The most recent for me - Sheltered by Charlotte Stein. Amazing book. Cover scares me and gives me nightmares.
Megan Frampton
3. MFrampton
@RobinBradford: Yes! Poor Anne Stuart; great books, awful covers.

@smexybooks: It was Charlotte Stein's Sheltered that inspired this post, actually! I read it yesterday. REALLY terrible cover.
Ginny Doremus
4. FaeRhi
You mean aside from the already mentioned NSFW original cover of The Princess Bride?
Linda Morris
5. Linda Morris
Maybe this isn't the worst cover of all time, but it's so wildly inappropriate to the book: Marjorie Farrell's Desert Hearts. I *love* this wonderful book. It's a western and an extremely subtle character study of a woman scarred by surviving an Indian raid as a child that kills the rest of her family. She's then raised by a older army officer who rescues her and eventually marries him for security although he's something of a father figure. When she meets the hero, an Irishman who moved to American to flee oppression by the British army in his homeland, she's attracted to him but also struggles with her innate anti-Irish bigotry. When her older husband is killed on a raid, she's faced with remarrying or being kicked out of the fort now that she's no longer married to an officer. The story is set against the backdrop of forcing the Navajo onto reservations, which resonates painfully for the hero because of his own history as a victim of oppression in Ireland. So of course, the obvious cover for this is a beefcake and a sleazy-looking woman about to be thrown off of a rearing horse.
Good to know about Sheltered, BTW. I've heard good things about it but that awful guy on the cover has been scaring me off.
Linda Morris
6. Kat Black
My vote has to go to CL Wilson's Tairen Soul series. Such a great, sweeping fantasy and characters to die for tucked behind some of the scariest covers I've seen in a long time!
Linda Morris
7. John K
The entire Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong. They've always had bad covers, and then they were made worse when all the paperbacks were giving a bizarre black, white, and red Twilight-esque makeover. Makes it REALLY hard to sell the books.
Linda Morris
8. CdnMrs
I loved the first 3 covers of Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series but that last two were horrible, HORRIBLE! The covers went from being these very professional looking, dark, steampunk-y covers to looking like someone dressed up their uni-browed cousin in cast offs from the local high school's production of my Fair Lady and had them stand in from of a really crappy backdrop. Thing is, I checked and it's the same cover artist AND model. Makes me wonder if the art department's budget was cut drastically or if the cover artist had a hate on for Ms. Carringer.
Linda Morris
9. pamelia
There was a Fabio-esque cover floating around for Loretta Chase's "Lord of Scoundrels" that made me cringe, but I believe they have replaced it with something tasteful. I loved the covers for Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter books up till the last one "Archangel's Blade" which looks like somebody's high-school art project.
Lynne Connolly
10. Lynne Connolly
Hands down the Fabio cover to "Flowers From The Storm." ticks all the boxes. Scary, cheesy cover, and one of the best romance books I've ever read:

or,for short:
Cristina P
11. krissapl
My first thought to this was the Tangle of Need cover from Nalini Singh. Love her, but really dislike that cover. What's up with the right side of it?? To paraphrase @pamelia - bad school project (not even going as high as high school on this one)..
Linda Morris
12. KarenA
I gotta vote for Sweeter Savage Love by Sandra Hill. The book is a parody of Rosemary Rogers' Sweet Savage Love, and the cover is in on the joke. I believe they're re-releasing this book shortly and the cover will probably be revised to boost sales. The story deserves more coverage since it's a laugh from start to finish, but that original artwork was such a huge part of the joke!
Linda Morris
13. Shark with Lasers
Cherry Adair's Edge series covers feature interchangeable male torsos with a blonde woman (the heroine is blonde in only ONE of these books - not incidentally, the one in which you can see the blonde hair the least clearly on the cover). I enjoyed the trilogy, but the covers just don't seem related to the stories at all.
Linda Morris
14. Kari (meinterrupted)
The first few of Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series, specifically 'Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night.' Bowen looks like a creepy vampire. And Sharon Shinn's entire "Samaria" series is atrocious; thank god for GoodReads, or I'd never have picked those up, and they're FANTASTIC.
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