I know this is hella unorthodox, a top twenty, and I could have easily solved this problem by just dropping all the non-2020 releases, but the way we roll is by doing whatever the hell I want, and I picked twenty covers right off the bat that I absolutely adored out of the books I read this year, so feast your eyes on all things gorgeous!
The fact that these first three books just go together so well is absolutely wonderful, and I’m so pleased. I’m always going to be a big fan of books with food on the cover, so of course I adore With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo. I’m also becoming a huge fan of these artist renditions of the MCs on the cover, so you’ll be seeing a lot of these on the list.
Somehow, I ended up with the UK cover of The Wrath & the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh, and though I truly have no idea how, I couldn’t not buy the UK cover of the sequel, and they’re just so pretty together despite the fact that, stupidly, they’re different sizes, but alas, I’m never going to get over the imperious expression on Shahrzad’s face and how well this cover suits the story.
Look, not gonna lie, Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender might be my favorite everything this year. I’m already yearning to reread it, and I’m definitely going to soon, and not just because that cover is drop dead gorgeous. It practically screams summer romance, and I just love it to pieces.
There is perhaps nothing more ridiculous or insane as Sword in the Stars by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy, and that all begins with the cover. Both in this duology are just over the top in all the best ways, and I love them insane amounts.
I don’t know who is creating the covers for Alix E. Harrow, and why she’s been that blessed, given how spectacular both The Ten Thousand Doors of January and Once and Future Witches are, but WOW. I love Harrow’s covers so damn much, and they’ve really put a new spin on covers for me. I’ve been so drawn to ones with people (art, not photos) for the longest time, but this is among my favorites this year.
Did I just see all the boys with flower crowns and buy every single one I could find? HECK YES. I’m pretty sure I bought All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson around the same time as Felix Ever After, too, because I just could not resist the temptation to surround myself with gorgeous floral books.
Midsummer’s Mayhem by Rajana LaRocca is one of the fastest impulse buys I’ve ever made because the concept + the baking + the cutest art of Mimi ever just made jaw-dropping so much. This book is an absolute delight, too, and you’ll totally see it on another list this month.
Ughhhhh, Shelby Mahurin is another author blessed with exceptional covers, and there was nothing that might have stopped me from grabbing Serpent & Dove, and that was before I knew it was about an enemies to lovers fake marriage witch & witch hunter romance. I KNOW, I KNOW, YOU’RE WELCOME.
Goth aesthetic me is real freaking happy that these two ended up together because snakes & skulls & darkness belong together. Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco is everything I’ve ever wanted in a cover, and it makes me want to add snakes into all of my books because I’ve already got skulls in most of them, and if I can make them prominent enough, maybe I’ll get both of them on my future cover.
In case you couldn’t tell by its place as the featured image for this post, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia is my favorite cover of the books I’ve read this year. Way before I even found out what it was about, I knew I was going to read it just because I had to own it. I can’t even explain it, but that dress plus Noemí’s hair & lipstick and the brocade wall behind her, it’s all just–ugh, I love it.
Nocturna by Maya Motayne is truly one of the most Mary aesthetic covers ever. It practically sings fire into my Aries bones, and the book inside is even better. This was one of the first times I realized that I could, indeed, have all of the Latin culture that is so beloved to me and the type of fantasy stories that I’ve grown to adore so much.
There’s a lot to love about Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan in general, but that cover. The hair over Lei’s face, the way she’s kind of hidden behind herself and then more prominent in the second one, the gorgeous nod to the lesbian flag, just–all of it is beautiful.
The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen calls deep to my bones for so many reasons. I’m always going to be a sucker for carrion birds referenced anywhere, though I’m always going to appreciate them more when it actually makes sense to do so (like in this book), and that combined with the castle in the distance and a cloaked MC–well, that had me sold pretty quickly.
Elysium Girls by Kate Pentecost had Mad Max vibes even before I knew it really did, and this cover grabbed my attention so quickly. The concept behind this book is incredible, and I’d love so many more books in this universe to really see how Pentecost could drench it in machinery and Wild West girls even more.
It was a tough call on which Margaret Rogerson book to pick, and though Elisabeth will stand tall in my heart forever, I had to give it to An Enchantment of Ravens. I know this is about the covers and not the book itself, but wow, you want to talk about faeries done right, THIS. This book is truly phenomenal in its depiction of the Fae, and seeing Isobel in this stunning dress with Rook’s ravens all around her just makes my heart sing.
Destiny Soria is another author blessed with amazing covers, and I really wish I had a video here of Iron Cast rather than just an image because the first several pages of this book are stunning. Even just the hardback, without the cover, is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and the aesthetic carries so far through the book, and just all of it. All of it is glorious.
Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar was 100% a cover buy, and I do not regret it. I mean, look at it. And you really don’t get the full effect here because you can’t see the play of light off of it, but it just shimmers like starlight, and it’s both so fitting for the inside and probably one of the prettiest books I own.
I refer to a lot of my books by really dumb working titles (sister witches), and my friend & I are always joking that Aiden Thomas forgot to change Cemetery Boys out of its reference title before it went to the publishers, but really, I just think he’s a genius, and we should all be taking notes. Not to mention he’s an absolute gem of a person, and this cover is A+++++. Also, the tarot cards that came with the preorder? I AM DECEASED.
Realistically, I could put the entire The Queen’s Thief series on this list because all of them are stunning, but given that Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner was the one I read this year, it’s the one on this list! And what a cover this is. I’m still cackling about the elephant.
Real talk here, there are times when I see the cover for On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong and just get lost in staring at it. I feel something different every time I see it, and that’s so powerful, particularly for the story within, and it’ll never stop being a cover that jumps out at me.