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When the Stars Fall

The author says:

Halyn Mugarson has been invisible all her life, but all that changes when a star literally falls on her and her neighbor Esteban Sanchez, whisking them off to the magical land of Keidreiy. They are told that they have been chosen to be the next king and queen, but before Halyn can be crowned, she is taken back to Earth. She then discovers that for the time they spent in Keidreiy, they had been missing on Earth. She must fight her battles on Earth while Esteban fights his battles to save Keidreiy.




Nathan says:

If I’m reading the description right, you’re aiming for a YA audience, probably female. Am I right? If so, then this cover seems suited to the audience.  The closer one looks, though, the more the shakiness of the rendering of the house and roof is apparent. I’d recommend it be redrawn, with a ruler to keep the shingle lines straight.

I think what’s missing is any feel for what the magical land is like — important, since the synopsis implies that a large part of the novel takes place there.  Pseudo-medieval European high-fantasy world? Idyllic nature kingdom? Whatever it is, it could be indicated by, say, something in the lower left corner — a distant castle or minarets or whatever.

I’m also not crazy about the byline font, but it’s not a dealbreaker for me.

Other opinions?


  1. This is a neat cover; it’s eyecatching and the wraparound cover is a very harmonious design. A part of me wonders whether putting the turret on the front and the house on the back would make the genre more clear, but the composition is so nice as-is that maybe it’s best not to mess with it.

    Unfortunately Nathan’s right that the house and tower are just not that well drawn. It isn’t just the linework: The perspective is way off in both pictures. The fact that they’re black ameliorates the problem, but it looks weirder the longer I look at it.

    I wonder whether shopped photos might work better than drawings. Here’s a quick mockup of what that might look like.

  2. Yes, I agree with Katz. That Photoshop tower is just what would elevate this further, that Lion stature is all right!

    Otherwise you could try and just remove the offending lines completely. black silhouette buildings would probably work just fine.

    I like the overall design, that it flows together front and back, good job on that.

    One last thing, is she literally invisible? I read the write up and I am wondering now. Was this girl physically transparent her entire life? Because, dang, that would be neat.

  3. This is evidently one of those instances where the author’s familiarity with the story blinds them to the fact that no one else has read it yet. It seems to be filled with imagery that only makes sense after one has read the book…which is putting the cart before the horse.

    Nevertheless, even given that, I think the cover is a strong one. The typography and design are very strong. I would make it much clearer that the black silhouette is in fact part of a house (it doesn’t immediately read so)…and in fixing this I would take Nathan’s suggestions to heart. I would certainly make the details that delineate the structure more defined, that way the house won’t seem so much like a dead silhouette.

    (I would apply all of this to the back cover, as well, which is a little less successful so far as the figure and background are concerned.)

    I do agree that the font choice for your name seems odd. It would look better to choose something simpler and more conservative.

    Other than these relative minor things….good job!

  4. I like the title font and the way it’s laid out. I don’t like the author name font. I would suggest using something sans-serif and fairly plain instead to offset the title.

    I don’t like the details drawn on the house silhouettes in white lines. This is going offtopic, but I don’t think either the description or the back cover description are very effective. The description initially suggested the book was about someone who is invisible, but after reading the rest of it and the back cover, it suggests this is not part of the story. Both mention ‘a star literally falls’. A star can’t literally fall. A star is a massive object and the Earth would fall into it, not the other way round. It would be more compelling to rephrase this in a way that puts the abusive father and the problems in the protagonist’s life, then alludes to her escape to another world, only to face problems of a different sort.

  5. I really like this cover. I think the author script is perfect for YA as they tend to be diverse and experimental. I don’t see a lion statue. I like the colors and stars. I’m not crazy over the white lines in the silhouettes. Is the boy sitting on a broom? It makes me think of Quidditch. I do think your blurb needs work. The overall concept is great.

  6. On my screen, the lines on the house barely appear at all, which might be for the better; so blacking them out altogether and letting the buildings just be silhouettes probably would be the best strategy. Yes, putting up a silhouette of some structure from this fantasy kingdom in the background between the girl and her new love interest is probably a good idea too. The picture already being abstract, how far away from her house this kingdom actually is in the story is irrelevant; just give us a glimpse of it.

    Yes, the description in the synopsis could use some work; mostly disambiguation. While it’s more common to be figuratively “invisible” than literally, one should always specify in cover blurbs and at the beginning of the story which kind of invisibility this is. Judging by the synopsis, I’m guessing this is the figurative kind, so I would say “Halyn Mugarson has always been a shrinking violet, invisible to all her peers…” or “Having to cope with her abusive father all her life has always kept Halyn Mugarson beneath everyone’s notice… until now.”

    The other term that needs disambiguation is the “star” that we’re told “literally” fell on Halyn Mugarson and her neighbor Esteban Sanchez. While “star” has traditionally meant any bright light in the heavens, most contemporary readers think of stars in modern scientific terms as a gigantic ball of flaming hydrogen around which planets typically orbit. Therefore, I’d say something more obvious like “When a shooting star that proves to be more than a mere stray meteor lands right on top of Halyn Mugarson and her neighbor Esteban Sanchez…” and go from there.

    One final obscure difficulty that most others may not have, but I do: the title reminds me of the old Negro spiritual “When The Stars Begin To Fall” as sung by Peter, Paul, & Mary. Any others who’ve heard this song may experience the same odd associative reminiscence when they see the title. That particular song is a based on the book of Revelation, and as such somewhat apocalyptic in its theme.

    If this is a desirable effect, or you don’t care about a minor complaint like that from someone like yours truly who isn’t even necessarily in your target audience anyway, then feel free to disregard my concern. However, if you want to avoid this bizarre association in a few of your readers’ minds, I’d recommend changing the title to Catch A Falling Star, which has the additional fringe benefit of also being associated with a somewhat cheerier and more optimistic song that might mesh better with the theme of the story.

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