I ran across a review of Rampant that pointed me in the direction of this (apparently quite popular) discussion of the cover. Seems some dude named Joel (Who, in his profile pics, looks to be a hipster about my age) has placed Rampant on his “books to never read ever” list on Goodreads. In his “review,” he takes umbrage at the fact that the cover of the book has a picture of a teen girl on it, instead of a giant killer unicorn.
Interesting point, some dude named Joel.
In fact, at one point in the long long LONG ensuing discussion, he says:
“then the cover should be a generic teen girl holding aloft the severed head of a giant killer unicorn. some of the blood should be dripping onto her, but she doesn’t care, because she is a warrior triumphant.”
And one of his buddies, Flannery, obliges him with some alternate cover art:
(I would like to make it known that this is a much better drawing than I could ever hope to do of a similar scene, in MS Paint or otherwise.)
Aside from the hair color, this is a pretty good illustration of the actual following scene in Rampant (Page 141, hardcover edition):
[Valerija] jumped back. “They said come here!” She reached into her duffel. “They see what I did to this.”
She held it aloft by its horn and we all gasped. The midnight dark skin, the brindled coat, the gaping maw, and most of all, the blood that oozed freely from the jagged edge where head had once met neck. A kirin’s head.
Valerija Raz lifted her chin. “They said here is where I belong.”
In fact, a few seconds earlier of that scene is actually illustrated here, by Emilia Argon:
This is Val arriving at the Cloisters, in full on goth gear with the unicorn head in the duffel bag at her feet.
Emilia actually pointed me in the direction on an entire cache of Rampant fanart on Deviantart.com. They are so awesome. Here’s her portrait of all the girls in the Cloisters (including Wen and Flayer!):
Seriously, how awesome is that? I love love love love love it. (I’m not sure why Ilesha is holding Flayer rather than Wen but Flayer is minding a lot less than I thought he might.) What I really love about it is how perfectly she captured the girls’ personalities. Look at val’s hair! Look at Rosamund’s cross. Look at how you can really see how much younger Ursula and Ilesha are than the other girls, and that Melissende (top left) and Ursula (bottom right) are sisters. Check out the expression on Phil’s face, the weariness on Astrid’s (nice call, btw, dressing her in those drab colors). These are not “generic teen girls.” (Sorry, Joel.)
Here’s another one of Astrid looking bored, by an artist named ShadowKissedAngel (a fan of Richelle Mead’s, I presume):
Love it. Love the braid! (This is the way Astrid most often wears her hair.)
I love the covers of my books. I think they are really beautiful. I adore the details of the sword on the cover of Rampant, and the reflection of the charging unicorn in the expression of determination on Astrid’s face. I love her sadness on the cover of Ascendant, and I covet her pretty, pretty hair. I don’t love the fact that there’s no unicorn on the cover, but there’s nothing I can do about that. Like I said, my stick figures aren’t even as good as Flannery’s. There are probably people out there, like Joel, who (though he admits himself that as a thirty-something dude, he’s hardly the target audience) aren’t picking the book up because it doesn’t have a killer unicorn on the cover, but there are probably a lot more people who picked it up because the covers — killer unicornified or not — are really pretty.
And whatever their initial motivation, the part that’s important to me is that they liked the text. They liked it enough to create their own art, like Emilia Argon and ShadowKisedAngel and the other folks on the DeviantArt Killer Unicorns Club Gallery. Art that shows the unicorns in all their killery glory:
Check out those gored sheep. So. Much. Love.
As a storyteller, I think that’s the best gift in the world.