Friday Face-Off: Gothic

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:

~ a cover of a GOTHIC novel

The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell

For this week’s topic, I’ve chosen to feature the queen of gothic suspense Laura Purcell’s The Shape of Darkness. The setting is Victorian Bath, where ailing silhouette artist Agnes Darken struggles to keep her business afloat in a world moving towards camera photography. With work already hard to come by, Agnes is shaken when her latest client is found dead, his throat cut and his face smashed in, just before she can complete the final touches on his portrait. Now, not only will her finances remain strained, but she’s also beginning to think someone might be targeting her business by killing her customers, especially when mysterious deaths connected to her seem to keep happening.

Let’s take a look at the covers:

From left to right:
Raven Books Hardcover (2021) – Raven Books Paperback (2021) – Penguin Books (2021)


The second iteration of the Raven Books cover for their paperback edition definitely has a more “suspenseful” vibe to it, but in terms of uniqueness and personality, I really like their original hardcover edition. I really like that on closer inspection you notice the little details like the golden scissors pattern in the background, as well as the main motif of the silhouetted shape which is a clear nod to the protagonist’s esoteric yet very cool profession. The Penguin Books cover though just looks a bit blah to me, and makes me think more noir than gothic.

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

14 Comments on “Friday Face-Off: Gothic”

  1. I do like the Raven paperback cover, but I agree, my favorite especially given the topic of the book is the Raven hardcover. I very much want to read this one for its taking place at that transition from silhouette artist to photography. In a similar vein but a bit of a tangent, I just bought an ebook of The Apparitionists, a non-fiction book looking at a photographer who was accussed of conning people just after the Civil War when photography was very new. He was a “spirit photographer” who created portraits for people where the ghosts of their loved ones appeared next to the client in his photos.


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