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Remember Sorceress by Celia Rees?

December 3, 2008

You know, the one about “Eighteen-year-old Agnes, a Mohawk Indian…”

She’s described on p. 28-29 of the first paperback edition: “She had high cheekbones and clear features; strong brows and a straight nose above a wide, full mouth and a declicately rounded chin. Her skin was the color of clear wild honey… The eyes, though—the eyes were a surprise. They were as gray as the sky on a snowy winter’s day.”

I’m not sure what shade “clear wild honey” is, and I don’t think either cover model below is a perfect fit for the description.

sorceress1 sorceress2

(The cover on the left is from the original hardcover and paperback editions. The one on the right is the cover of the paperback edition coming in May 2009.)

But, boy does the girl on the second cover look a lot whiter. If the second girl actually looks more Mohawk, or if I’m the only one who thinks she looks whiter, awesome. Because it is a gorgeous cover. But if not, I think this cover change is pretty egregious, worse than the covers discussed here and here.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. December 4, 2008 3:10 am

    Oh, I hate it, hate it, hate it, HATE IT when publishers do that. There’s the assumption that a book will sell better with a dominant culture model on the cover, and while that may be, they’re not giving minority readers any credit for reading, and they’re deeply annoying a plethora of authors, I’m sure. Knowing how little say anyone has over their covers (unless they a.) were a marketing guru before breaking into print, or b.) rival JK Rowling in sales), Celia Rees might be stuck with this for awhile.

    I agree — the first one’s not a perfect match, but it beats the second one by miles and acres. How annoying.

  2. December 4, 2008 7:39 am

    I have never quite been sure of what “high cheekbones” actually look like…but the paperback girl sure looks as northern European (the nose especially) as all get out.

    I have been wondering, if, now that we have an African American president, whose picture is going to be ubiquitous, there will be more acceptance of non-white people on book covers…we voted for him, why wouldn’t we buy him (as it were).

  3. December 5, 2008 2:24 pm

    Well, I agree that the cultural thing is pretty appalling . . . but more importantly, both of the covers are pretty white-bread stock photo slap-on-a-title looking. Looks annoyingly like a cover artist is working on a blurb instead of reading the book.

  4. December 5, 2008 3:19 pm

    The first cover fits in with the Witch Child cover. (Which I think is just gorgeous, even if the yellowish tone makes the girl look rather jaundiced.) And the second cover above kinda fits with the Sovay cover. But, yeah, besides the whitewashing, as pretty as the covers may be, they are also generic.

  5. August 16, 2009 10:30 pm

    This needs to stop happening. I’m so sick of it I could puke.



  1. Asian-Americans on YA fiction covers « The YA YA YAs
  2. Book Review: Sorceress, Celia Rees (2009) » V for Vegan:

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