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Book Cover Smackdown! SPARK (John Twelve Hawks) vs. THE BROTHERS CABAL (Jonathan L. Howard) vs. THE INCORRUPTIBLES (John Hornor Jacobs)

It’s time another Book Cover Smackdown! Here’s another selection on upcoming genre covers that are unconventional.

Your mission (should you choose to accept it): play armchair art critic!

Tell us: which of these covers grabs your attention? What appeals to you? What works and what doesn’t work? Do any of them make you want to read the book?

Spark by John Twelve Hawks
(Doubleday | October 7, 2014 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)

Edgy, hard-core, and wildly imaginative, this new thriller from New York Times bestselling author John Twelve Hawks (The Traveler, The Dark River, The Golden City) features an assassin-narrator unlike anyone we’ve seen before, set in a present-day dystopia.

Jacob Underwood is a contract employee of the Special Services Section, a shadow department in the faceless multinational corporation DBG. Jacob is not a businessman…he is a hired assassin…and his job is to neutralize problems deemed unacceptable by the corporation. Jacob is not like other employees, nor is he like other people. Suffering from Cotard’s syndrome-a real condition that causes people to believe they are dead-Jacob perceives himself as nothing but a Shell with no emotion and no sense of right or wrong. Emily Buchanan is a bright young second-year associate for DBG, and she has disappeared without a trace. Suspecting she may have stolen valuable information and a fortune from the company, Miss Holquist-Jacob’s handler at DBG-assigns him the task of tracking her down and neutralizing her. Jacob’s condition allows him to carry out assignments with ruthless, logical precision-devoid of guilt, fear, or dishonor. But as his new assignment draws him inside a labyrinthine network of dark dealings, Jacob finds himself up against something he is completely incapable of understanding. Spark is an ingenious and chilling vision of modern-day humanity under constant, invasive surveillance and a pulse-pounding game of cat and mouse.

The Brothers Cabal by Jonathan L. Howard
(Thomas Dunne Books | September 30, 2014 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)

Horst Cabal has risen from the dead. Again. Horst, the most affable vampire one is ever likely to meet, is resurrected by an occult conspiracy that wants him as a general in a monstrous army. Their plan: to create a country of horrors, a supernatural homeland. As Horst sees the lengths to which they are prepared to go and the evil they cultivate, he realizes that he cannot fight them alone. What he really needs on his side is a sarcastic, amoral, heavily armed necromancer.

As luck would have it, this exactly describes his brother.

Johannes Cabal returns in the one-of-a-kind fantasy series that will appeal to readers of Jasper Fforde, Richard Kadrey, and Neil Gaiman.

The Incorruptibles by John Hornor Jacobs
(Gollancz | August 14, 2014 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)

In the contested and unexplored territories at the edge of the Empire, a boat is making its laborious way up stream. Riding along the banks are the mercenaries hired to protect it – from raiders, bandits and, most of all, the stretchers, elf-like natives who kill any intruders into their territory. The mercenaries know this is dangerous, deadly work. But it is what they do. In the boat the drunk governor of the territories and his sons and daughters make merry. They believe that their status makes them untouchable. They are wrong. And with them is a mysterious, beautiful young woman, who is the key to peace between warring nations and survival for the Empire. When a callow mercenary saves the life of the Governor on an ill-fated hunting party, the two groups are thrown together. For Fisk and Shoe – two tough, honourable mercenaries surrounded by corruption, who know they can always and only rely on each other – their young companion appears to be playing with fire. The nobles have the power, and crossing them is always risky. And although love is a wonderful thing, sometimes the best decision is to walk away. Because no matter how untouchable or deadly you may be, the stretchers have other plans.

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

7 Comments on Book Cover Smackdown! SPARK (John Twelve Hawks) vs. THE BROTHERS CABAL (Jonathan L. Howard) vs. THE INCORRUPTIBLES (John Hornor Jacobs)

  1. wow, how can you compete with the almost perfect design aesthetics of the whole Cabal series, and this new cover is just as good as the others. all opinion of course, but I find the design and art that go with The Brothers Cabal by Jonathan L. Howard to be a cut above the rest.

  2. Paul Weimer // March 22, 2014 at 7:42 am //

    The Cabal is the best, but I do like The Incorruptibles, too. Not so thrilled on the Spark cover

  3. Not thrilled with Spark cover either.

    The Brothers Cabal is a little busy for me. Too many vines and swirls intersecting with an already busy font. But that is my only quip with an otherwise fantastic cover. I like the Incorruptibles aesthetically, but not sure if the subject of a steamboat makes me want to read it.

    Winner is easily Cabal.

    • Matte Lozenge // March 22, 2014 at 11:59 pm //

      Concur the Cabal is to busy with the swirls, and also the mix of fonts is a little too much. Still it’s the best of the three. Incorruptibles has a very nice etching style and a tidy coherent design, but the Hobbit vibe makes it look like a kiddie adventure that would not be my first choice to pick up.

  4. David Greybeard // March 22, 2014 at 10:39 am //

    The Brothers Cabal by Jonathan L. Howard! Leagues and leagues ahead of the competition. (I also love the series.)

  5. The Brothers Cabal is pretty good, but the font for the word “Cabal” just doesn’t really look good there.
    I’m going to go with The Incorruptibles. 🙂

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