Friday Face-Off: Priest

Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a weekly meme created by Books by Proxy! Each Friday, we will pit cover against cover while also taking the opportunity to showcase gorgeous artwork and feature some of our favorite book covers. If you want to join the fun, simply choose a book each Friday that fits that week’s predetermined theme, post and compare two or more different covers available for that book, then name your favorite. A list of future weeks’ themes are available at Lynn’s Book Blog.

This week’s theme is:

“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
~ a cover featuring a MONK/PRIEST/PERSON OF THE CLOTH

Mogsy’s Pick:

Dark Debts by Karen Hall

This week, I had a book in mind right away, as Dark Debts was a horror-thriller novel I read only a few short years ago, and the story along with its main character who is a Jesuit priest has stayed with me ever since. What’s also interesting about this novel is that its 2016 re-release was not simply a new edition of the 20-year-old cult classic, but actually a completely reworked version featuring extensive changes including a different ending. The reason, the author explained, had a lot to do with how much she has changed as a person in the last two decades, as well as gaining more knowledge and understanding into her own Catholic faith.

The novel itself is a Gothic horror involving demonic possession, exorcism, and a heavy dose of mystery. The story begins with protagonist Father Michael Kinney testifying as a witness to a horrific crime involving a teenage boy and his two parents, appearing in court against the wishes of the church. In response, Father Michael’s superiors transfer him to rural Georgia immediately after the trial, forcing him to leave his old parish in Manhattan. Believing his exile to be a result of church politics, Father Michael is stricken when he discovers the truth about the dark, terrible secrets in his family’s past and that his transfer might in fact be no accident at all.

If you enjoy experiencing the disturbing feelings of unease or creeping dread brought on by the atmosphere of old-school horror movies, then Dark Debts is for you. However, I am not sure any of its covers really convey those subtle horror elements:

From left to right, top to bottom:
Random House (1996) – Simon & Schuster (2016)
Ivy Books (1997) – Pan Books (1998)




I’ll be honest, they’re all terrible this week. Sure, a couple are worse than others (to be fair, something tells me the Pan edition is meant to be foil, because they liked doing that stuff in the 90s), but they’re all pretty bad. For me, it was a toss-up between the “stone statue” or the “priest” cover, though ultimately I went with the Simon & Schuster, and mostly because this is also the edition I own (the 20th anniversary hardcover with blood-red sprayed edges).

But what do you think? Which one is your favorite?

21 Comments on “Friday Face-Off: Priest”

  1. First of all I’ve never heard of this novel but you might have just had me at exorcism. That being said, all of the covers are pretty bad but if I had to chose, I’d pick the same one as you. This is definitely one to grab on ebook if I ever read it because I have no desire to stare at the cover. And I STILL can’t quite figure out that last one, You can hardly read anything on it!


  2. The presence of the statue gives the cover an added value, horror-wise, because it reminds me of Dr. Who’s episode “Blink”, one of the most terrifying – no, THE most terrifying episode I ever saw. Which makes it perfect for this book, I guess… 🙂


  3. I’ve never heard of this book but I think it might be something I’d like – I agree on your choice of cover – none of them are really awe inspiring but the statue and the cross give your winner the edge.
    Lynn 😀


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