The Bone Queen (Candlewick, June) is Alison Croggon’s new prequel to her Books of Pellinor YA fantasy series, which launched in the author’s native Australia with 2002’s The Gift. Walker Books began publishing the series in the U.K. in 2004; the original quartet, published through 2008, is below.
Candlewick, Walker’s sibling imprint in the U.S., retitled book one The Naming and published it in 2005. That edition, and subsequent entries in the series, featured redesigned jackets, shown below, showcasing each book’s main characters. Full-bleed paperback covers followed.
In 2012, Walker re-released the Books of Pellinor with a new cover look, highlighting the characters and their world rather than the more symbolic images of Walker's earlier covers.
Walker’s 2016 repackaging, which included the publication of The Bone Queen prequel, returned to the books’ original look, using a refreshed font and putting more of an emphasis on Croggon’s name.
When it came time for Candlewick to publish The Bone Queen, says assistant art director Matt Roeser, “I looked at all of the previous cover designs for the U.S. and the U.K., and suggested we try going in a completely different direction.”
He came up with an initial design, which featured a more modern color palette, and discussed with associate editor Miriam Newman imagery that could work for each book.
While searching through the Library of Congress image database, “I found these amazing old engravings,” Roeser says. “In 1825, British engraver Sidney Hall created a series of star chart cards with illustrations of various constellations. They had holes punched out of them, so you could presumably line them up with the night sky as you looked through them.”
The constellations’ dotted lines, he says, reminded him of the illustrated maps at the beginning of each Pellinor book. “I realized that in the right layout, they could really hint at the themes of the series: light, dark, magic, and mystery.”
The Naming (below), features a lyre, inspired by the one played by Maerad, the protagonist of the series. “It stays with her through her journeys,” Roeser says. “Stumbling across the Lyra constellation was when we realized that using constellations for each book might work.”
The Riddle involves a lot of travel, some of it by dogsled. “That’s what these domesticated dogs represent to me,” Roeser says. “We found the constellations of Asterion and Chara”—complete with leashes.
“Maerad’s brother is the focus of The Crow, and his closest companion is an albino crow he rescues from the cruelties of other crows.” The cover uses the bird constellation Corvus.
There are several battles in The Singing, Roeser says, but the sword on the cover also references Maerad’s journey over the course of the series. “In the final book she’s reunited with a swordmaster she met in the first book, who wonders, ‘What happened to the shy, charming bard I met last spring. Who is this bold young warrior?’ Using the constellation of Perseus, who’s just cut off the head of Medusa, felt appropriately epic.”
As her name implies, The Bone Queen is “quite the villain," Roeser says. "The sharp and menacing Corona Borealis constellation was a perfect fit. “
To complete the cohesiveness of the redesign, associate designer Hayley Parker laid out the spines so that when all five books are next to one another, lines from the constellations continue across the whole series. Even better, Roeser says: “Since The Bone Queen can be seen as a prequel or a standalone, its spine lines up when placed at the front of the series or at the end.”