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It’s time another Book Cover Smackdown! Your mission (should you choose to accept it): Play armchair art critic!

Tell us:

  • Which of these covers most grabs your attention?
  • What works and what doesn’t work with these covers?
  • Do any of them make you want to learn more about and/or read the book?

Macaque Attack! by Gareth L. Powell
(Solaris | December 30, 2014 | Cover illustration artist: Jake Murray)

The Spitfire pilot monkey Ack-Ack Macaque faces a world on the brink in this adventure, the conclusion to his astonishing trilogy.

In the thrilling conclusion of the Macaque Trilogy, the dangerous but charismatic Ack-Ack Macaque finds himself leading a dimension-hopping army of angry monkeys, facing an invading horde of implacable killer androids, and confronting the one challenge for which he was never prepared: impending fatherhood! Meanwhile, former journalist Victoria Valois fights to save the electronic ghost of her dead husband and reclaim his stolen soul from the sands of Mars.

Prophecies, Libels & Dreams by Ysabeau S. Wilce
(Small Beer Press | October 14, 2014 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)

Praise for Ysabeau S. Wilce’s previous books:

“This fresh and funky setting is rich with glorious costumes, innovative language, and tantalizing glimpses of history.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

These inter-connected stories are set in an opulent quasi-historical world of magick and high manners called the Republic of Califa. The Republic is a strangely familiar place—a baroque approximation of Gold Rush era-California with an overlay of Aztec ceremony—yet the characters who populate it are true originals: rockstar magicians, murderous gloves, bouncing boy terrors, blue tinted butlers, sentient squids, and a three-year-old Little Tiny Doom and her vengeful pink plush pig. By turn whimsical and horrific (sometime in the same paragraph), Wilce’s stories have been characterized as “screwball comedies for goths” but they could also be described as “historical fantasies” or “fanciful histories” for there are nuggets of historical fact hidden in them there lies.

Ysabeau S. Wilce is the author of Flora Segunda, Andre Norton Award–winner Flora’s Dare, and Flora’s Fury, and she has published work in Asimov’s, Steampunk!, and Fantasy & Science Fiction. She lives in San Francisco, California. Her website is

(Prime Books | December 3, 2014 | Cover illustration artist: unknown)

Yamada no Goji is a minor nobleman of ancient Japan who has lost everything-except a single purpose: keep a promise to the woman he loved. In order to fulfill his vow, all he has to do is fight a horde of demons and monsters, bargain with a few ghosts, outwit the sinister schemers of the emperor’s court, find a way to defeat an assassin who cannot be seen, heard, or touched-and change the course of history. Fortunately, Yamada specializes in achieving the seemingly impossible, so he is sure in some way to succeed . . . if he doesn’t drink himself into oblivion first.

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! MACAQUE ATTACK! (Powell) vs. PROPHECIES, LIBELS & DREAMS (Wilce) vs. YAMADA MONOGATARI: TO BREAK THE DEMON GATE (Parks)

  1. wow macaque attack is AWESOME

    I am not much of a pastel fan so Prophecies doesn’t tickle me

    and to break the gate doesn’t say anything to me, but I feel like there has been a lot of ninja looking covers in the last couple years. perhaps it needed a pirate also :-p

  2. David Greybeard // May 31, 2014 at 8:30 am //

    Macaque Attack is the winner.

  3. I like the one for Macaque Attack. It pulls me in and gives me some sense of what the story is about.

    The one on Prophecies, Libels, & Dreams is stunningly gorgeous, but it reminds me of something you’d see on a children’s book cover. If I saw it at a bookstore, I’d be hooked, but if I saw it online I’d assume that it was written for a younger audience.

    The third one is meh.

  4. Macaque Attack is a sure winner because it has apes with guns (who doesn’t like this!), however the second cover looks interesting and psychodelic, exactly my style. The third one is… meh, who cares. Another boring ninja on the roof.

  5. Don’t argue against the damned monkey. Or so Gareth Powell tells me 😉

  6. Monkeys on a cover win, so obviously Macaque Attack is the clear winner.

  7. Prophecies, Libels and Dreams would get my vote–if it had the vibrant colors I associate with “a baroque approximation of Gold Rush era-California with an overlay of Aztec ceremony.” As it is, it is pallid and doesn’t imply that at all.

    So Macaque Attack gets my vote by default. It’s a cool cover and definitely sends a message about what kind of story it is.

    I do think I like To Break the Gate more than most others have. I think it’s cool, just not the kind of story/cover that would bring me in.

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