Cuckoo Song – Frances Hardinge

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My latest book cover for Utz Books’s editions of Frances Hardinge’s novels (previously: The Lie Tree). This is for Cuckoo Song, a strange, wild, kind 1920s tale of fey creatures, family, and urban planning. It is available for pre-order from Utz Books here (I understand). But if that is not your language, I recommend tracking this book down in one you can read. It’s a delight.

The process, from thumbnail sketches to detailed pencils to cut paper silhouette, is shown below. The details on the original are very small — the whole piece was cut from a sheet of A3 paper, but a lot of room was taken up by vines at the bottom/top.

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The Lie Tree cover art

I hadn’t yet read any of Frances Hardinge‘s novels when Gili Bar-Hillel of Utz Books asked me to illustrate the cover for the Hebrew translation of The Lie Tree. And oh, it is so very good!

Here are a few of my first thumbnail concepts for the cover.

The Lie Tree - thumbnails

The novel is a beautiful combination of gothic mystery, scientific discovery, faith, lies, ambition, hubris and secrets. Part way through I realised that it felt like Matthew Arnold’s poem “Dover Beach”, and then a particularly apt sentence sent me back to the beginning to check for a nonchalant line that convinced me this was entirely deliberate on Hardinge’s part.

Here are the pencils. We decided to go with more open vinework around the title.

The Lie Tree - pencils

I then cut the final image out of black paper, and sent it through for the designer, Dor Cohen, to do wonderful things with.

The Lie Tree - cover

The Hebrew translation of France’s Hardinge’s novel The Lie Tree, translated by Yael Achmon, is now available for pre-order from Utz Books: The Lie Tree.

Thanks to my supporters on Patreon who help give me time to put together these process posts (and who get to see projects like this early).