Welcome back to Top Ten Tuesday, where I am going to list my absolute favourite book covers of the last year. This is actually the second Top Ten Tuesday post I am putting up today, mainly because I wanted to finish off all my best-of-2021 lists before we got too far into the new year. I have previously highlighted several other amazing books from last year in a range of lists, including My Favourite Books of 2021, Favourite Audiobooks, Favourite Debuts and Favourite Australian Fiction lists, and I think looking at awesome covers is a good way to wrap this all up.
Now, I know you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I think we can all agree that an awesome piece of cover art can really raise some interest in a novel. I can personally think of several examples where an epic cover absolutely grabbed me and convinced me to check out a novel that I ended up really loving. 2021 was a great example of this as there were some extremely cool and impressive covers that I thought were visually stunning. Most of these outstanding covers complemented and emphasised the amazing stories within, and in some places the cover artists really went all out to produce some truly epic statement pieces. As such, I thought I would quickly highlight some of the best covers here by producing a visually awesome list. To appear on this list, the book had to be released in 2021 and had to be generally impressive and amazing. I think I ended up choosing a great range of excellent covers, and I hope you enjoy all the pretty pictures below. I have tried to find out who did the cover art where possible, although for a couple of books (ones I got on audiobook and don’t have a physical copy of), I couldn’t find out who drew it. Apologies in advance for any artist I overlooked.
Lies Like Wildfire written by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, cover by MISHKO
The Dark written by Jeremy Robinson
Breakout written by Paul Herron, cover by Patrick Insole
The Mask of Mirrors written by M. A. Carrick, cover by Nekro and Lauren Panepinto
Top Ten Tuesday:
The Shadow of the Gods written by John Gwynne, cover by Marcus Whinney
My absolute favourite cover of 2021, this epic piece of art really grabbed my attention and forced me to read this impressive piece of fantasy fiction. I had a wonderful time with The Shadow of the Gods and the upcoming sequel, The Hunger of the Gods, also has an extremely awesome cover (easily going to be one of the best covers of 2022).
Star Wars: Visions: Ronin written by Emma Mieko Candon, cover by Ella Laytham and Kotaro Chiba
There were some cool pieces of Star Wars cover art out this year, but nothing could top the artistic masterpiece that appeared on Ronin. A tie-in to the Star Wars: Visions anime series, the cover of Ronin made perfect use of traditional Japanese artforms to create something exceptional. I loved the blend of Star Wars iconography and the classic Japanese wave form, and this was an absolute joy to behold.
The Pariah written by Anthony Ryan, cover by Lauren Panepinto and Jaime Jones
A clever and subtle bit of art that showcases the roguish protagonist of this fun fantasy novel. I think the artist did a great job of highlighting what was to come in The Pariah, and the cool detail around the character was very impressive. While I loved the art for The Pariah, I think that the cover on the upcoming sequel, The Martyr, is even better, and I can’t wait to grab it.
The Twice-Dead King: Ruin, written by Nate Crowley
Gosh artists must have so much fun coming up with art for Warhammer covers, as there are some amazing and fantastic elements contained in this extended universe. I particularly loved this cover from last year, which showcases the ancient and mysterious Necron race in all their glory. A great cover for a very entertaining tie-in novel.
The Warsaw Orphan written by Kelly Rimmer, cover by Christabella Designs
A simple and understated cover that does a wonderful job highlighting the upcoming dread and tragedy contained in this moving historical drama novel.
Colonyside, written by Michael Mammay, cover by Sebastien Hue
There have been some really great covers for the previous books in Michael Mammay’s Planetside series (Planetside and Spaceside), but I think that the one for Colonyside was the best. I love the above shot, especially as it perfectly captures the insane jungle planet that was such a distinctive setting of this book. A very fun cover!
Star Wars: The High Republic: Tempest Runner, written by Cavan Scott, cover by Katerina Balikova
While I also deeply enjoyed one of the covers for Cavan Scott’s other 2021 Star Wars release, The Rising Storm, I think that the cool art that adorned the front of Tempest Runner was even better. Tempest Runner, which was released as both a full-cast audio drama and a paperback, was a great read, and I loved how this cover did a fantastic job of capturing it’s entertaining and deadly central character.
Later, written by Stephen King, cover by Paul Mann
I loved the classic mystery novel feel that the artists choose to utilise for Stephen King’s early 2021 release, Later. This cover does a fantastic job capturing the unique tone of this cool horror/coming-of-age story and gives it a fun, crime fiction-tinged edge. This cover, as well as another couple of covers done by Gregory Manchess for the hardcover version, also fit the story really well, especially as they connect to the cheesy adventure novels that the protagonist and his mother produce.
Cytonic written by Brandon Sanderson, cover by Sam Green and Tomas Almeida
I have a lot of love for the cool covers that get used in the Gollancz versions of Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward series (so far consisting of Skyward and Starlight). The cover for the third book, Cytonic, was particularly awesome, and I loved how it showcased parts of the very unique new setting of the third novel.
The Art of Death written by David Fennell, cover by Nick Stearn
A creepy and eye-catching piece of artwork that hints at the disturbing crimes contained in this fantastic 2021 crime fiction debut.
Well, that’s the end of this second list, I hope you enjoyed all the cool covers above. Make sure to me know what your favourite book covers of 2021 was in the comments below and I cannot wait to see what awesome and epic pieces of art will grace the front of 2022’s best reads.