Cover Chat: Without A Summer By Mary Robinette Kowal

BAM! The cover for Mary Robinette Kowal’s upcoming release Without A Summer is absolutely eye-catching. It makes an impression — something I’d think even if it weren’t the art on the front of the third book in one of my favorite new series. But it is!

This just-revealed cover graces book three in the Glamourist Histories, the continuing adventures of artists Jane and Vincent. These main characters were first introduced in the author’s debut, Shades of Milk and Honey, which won her the August 2010 RT Seal of Excellence. The story's concept was “Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with magic.” The premise which sounds tired and overdone, instead launched a series that is simply put, a joy to read.

These books are Regency England-set tales with an emphasis on the conventions of the era. The only addition that Kowal makes to the Regency world is that certain skilled people are able to “weave glamours.” Glamourists, including hero and heroine Vincent and Jane, can paint pictures with light — a fascinating skill which Kowal is somewhat familiar as, in addition to writing, the author is also a puppeteer who uses stage lights in order to create artistic scenes during her shows. Thus it fits perfectly that in Kowal's fiction her characters are able to create light shows by simply manipulating the element with their thoughts. Kowal incorporates the glamour working into her stories so seamlessly that at points you will forget that there wasn’t truly magic in the time period. Clearly, I devoured book one and two and am eagerly awaiting this novel’s release on April 2, 2013.

Before we go any further, I feel that I must admit that I am digging the way that the cover art of book three matches the style of book two. I was a little bit worried when we switched from the unique looking book one to the more pop art look of book two, which frankly seems more contemporary looking than the series first. And I know you’re saying “what? no! these look like old fashioned people in old fashioned clothing!” But the truth is that the cover for book one looked like a painting. The whole presentation of the book (from the cover art to the pages themselves) reeked of "classic." I think that it was a perfect way to introduce readers to MRK, an author who literally considers every single word she uses in her writing and does her best to avoid anything that is not the lexicon of the incomparable Austen. In comparison to the classic style of the first book's packaging, the second and third book both cover take on the series in a different way. Each cover showcases the story as new, fresh and fun — although still in keeping with the series' historical setting —  between the bubbles on book two and the birds (and clothing) on this new release, the capture the sense of movement that flows through these stories and makes them so much fun to read.

So what do we know about the newest MRK Glamourist book? This novel is Kowal’s homage to Emma. It is set in 1816, a year that was actually referred to as “The Year Without a Summer” due to the strange weather patterns. It also features a Luddite Uprising. (For those of you who aren’t history buffs, during the Industrial Revolution the artisans who created textiles tried to destroy the machinery that were allowing factory owners to create textiles inexpensively with unskilled labor.) Back in October, when news of the upcoming project first leaked, the author spoiled us with this early look at the novel:

As in the other books, Jane remains my main character so she differs from the original Emma in many ways. I was doing a reread of Emma and was struck by the idea of Jane as a matchmaker for her sister. Although Melody is not quite as silly as Harriet Smith, she comes very close. The novel will be a little more adventure packed, as the Luddite Uprising aspect might indicate, but at the end of the day we're still looking at a love story.

And although Jane and Vincent are the main characters of Without a Summer, a comment on the author’s blog, makes it clear that this isn’t J&V taking a walk. Instead it is Melody and her mystery man. And I think despite his good looks, it the beautiful Miss M who is stealing the show … and I can’t wait to find out how the birds factor in — especially the one sitting on his shoulder. Also, can we discuss for a hot minute how much I love this gal’s muff’n’stuff? Her outfit is positively divine and I really appreciate that we get such details as the corduroy-looking material of her jacket and the lace-trimmed bow on her waist.

So what do you think of the look of this upcoming book? Love Without a Summer or are holding out until you learn more about this 2013 release to make your final decision? Let me know in the comments below. For more fantasy-filled stories, visit our Everything Sci Fi & Fantasy Page.