Judging a Book By Its Cover: Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones

I’ve mentioned previously that I nearly always judge a book by its cover. If a book is by an author I’ve read before, or if it’s something that I have on my wishlist, then I tend not to care as much about the cover. However, if I’m browsing in a store or at the library, a book’s cover definitely plays a large part in my decision to pick it up. Ugly covers tend to be a no-go for me, as you can imagine. Going off of this, different editions of books tend to have different covers, and looking at all of them can be quite fun. I always get really jealous when a different country gets a great cover, and I’m stuck with a sub par one! For my first post on this topic (I do plan to do at least a few more), I decided to check out one of my favorite Diana Wynne Jones books, Charmed Life.
Chrestomanci Vol 1

There’s been quite a few editions released over the years, but I only have one (two, if you count the jacketless hardcover ex-library version. But since that doesn’t have a cover, I’m obviously not counting it). This is the one I have, and I think it’s the one my friend let me borrow way back when I hadn’t yet heard of Diana Wynne Jones. This is the cover of volume 1 of the Chronicles of Chrestomanci. It’s got both Charmed Life and The Lives of Christopher Chant, and it’s not so bad, as covers go. It’s not really exciting, but it does have that air of “magic!” to it. And the gold lettering is nice. The cat’s cute, too. Charmed Life 2

This one’s for the newer single release (I think). It incorporates a lot more of the story elements besides the cat: Cat (the character) is there, as well as the book of matches, the frog, a book, and…a mirror? I think it’s a mirror. All things that’re in the story, though of course you wouldn’t know that if you hadn’t, er, read the book before. There’s another version of this cover somewhere, too, without the big archway in front of everything. Also I just noticed how massive that cat is. Sheesh!

Charmed Life 3 This is one of the British editions. I love it! It’s quite charming, eh? There’s Chrestomanci on the very right, there, plus Cat and his sister Gwendolyn. And Chrestomanci Castle! And there’s the dragon as well, who’s name I unfortunately forgot for the moment. I especially love the type for the title and author’s name. It’s not too fancy, but it’s fancy enough to be fun and slightly whimsical.

Charmed Life 4 And lastly there’s this one, which is disappointingly boring. I think this is the Scottish version. At any rate, it’s not bad, but it could have been better, I think. I do like the swooshing stars and the colors used for the text. But– am I the only one who gets annoyed when the author’s name is bigger than the title of the book? It just seems uneven. So there we are! I’m sure there’s lots more, but these are the ones I found on the first page of Google Image Search. I did find this Japanese cover here, though (along with some more cover versions). Charmed Life 5

Quite chaotic, but very interesting. I like how all the characters seem to be moving; it has a great amount of excitement to it. It’s nearly too busy, actually, but the white space around everything calms it down a bit. This cover reminds me of the scene at the end, where everyone is chasing Fiddle the cat (does that count as a spoiler?) and everything is crazy. The watercolors are a nice touch, too.
Charmed Life 6
And here’s one more cover I found on Wikipedia! It’s kind of stodgy, but I love how it’s got both Cat and Gwendolen (and the dragon) and the castle in the background. The details on the border are very nice, too!

What’s your favorite cover? And are there any other non-US/UK ones I haven’t found?

1 thought on “Judging a Book By Its Cover: Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones”

  1. The 1980 US paperback reprint has a subtle but devastating portrait of Gwendolen and Cat, with Cat looking vague and Gwendolen’s expression showing her conniving nature. The full-blown roses next to her are interrupted by a bad-smelling marigold (I think), while the roses next to Cat are mere buds.

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