Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bibliofile: Luis Barnavelt List, Pierscien I Czarodziejka

It’s time for another look at the cover art that Polish publisher Amber used when they released the Lewis Barnavelt series last decade. There’s not really a lot to say about these except, that since the scenes on the paperback covers depict scenes from the books in exactly no way at all, we feel the publishers just found some spooky-looking artwork, slapped on their titles and logo, and then sold ‘em like hotcakes. Or babkas. Whatever.

Unlike our previous post, this time around we don’t know the cover artist and we’re not sure why the artwork was altered. Yes, in our archives we somehow have two very similar versions of the cover for The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring. The differences are subtle but once you notice them they stick out like a sore thumb.

Both versions feature two females: one is supposed to be Rose Rita, the other (the one that reminds us of Martha Raye) is supposed to be Mrs. Zimmermann. Of course, one of the two isn’t wearing her glasses and the other is not dressed in purple – but since we can only assume this cover was not created specifically for the book, we really can’t fault anyone. Though the expression the Rose Rita-ish character displays pretty much sums up our thoughts. Below the women is a cauldron of bubbling green goo; at its rim, an ethereal blue-colored cat hovers. More of these felis phasmatis appear to be floating upward and coming to rest atop the window head. The arched titles appear over the scene.

The scene is mostly duplicated on the other version, except that behind Rose Rita another figure emerges from the shadows and is reaching out to touch the head of one of the ghostly cat figures. We suspect you’re already suspending your belief to accept witches, curses, and shape-shifting in the first place so just go ahead and pretend this kid is Lewis. Go ahead. The running consensus on this side of the blog is that it’s England’s Prince Harry. Also, the titles are split across two straight lines.

We’re not really sure how the image with three figures got into our archives but the running assumption is that this was the cover promoted on the Amber website back in 2001. If you track down an image of the book today you’ll only find the two figures on the cover. Perhaps the third figure was removed to have the cover match the plot of the book?

Around back there appears to be a transparent mirror image of the cover along with thumbnail-size covers of the other books in the Luis Barnavelt series. Not shown is this book or The Ghost in the Mirror.

Interestingly the interior of the book includes Richard Egielski’s well-known gray-washed artwork seen in the original Dial hardcover edition from 1976. From the text it appears the name of the character in chapter one complaining about attending Camp Kitch-itti-Kippi is simply referred to as Rita Pottinger.

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