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A Tale of Two Covers: Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor

Sunday, April 29th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

Akata Warrior-small Sunny and the Mysteries of Osis-small

Nnedi Okorafor is one of the most exciting novelists at work in the field of fantasy. She’s won the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Awards, and the Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa. She writes Black Panther comics for Marvel, and her World Fantasy Award-winning novel Who Fears Death is being developed by George R.R. Martin as an HBO series.

Her latest novel, Akata Warrior, was published by Viking Books for Young Readers last October (above left, cover by Greg Ruth). It was republished in the UK in March by Cassava Republic Press under the title Sunny and the Mysteries of Osisi (above right, design by Anna Morrison). Both books (er, the single book) are (is?) the sequel to 2011’s Akata Witch.

Although the books are being sold to separate markets with different titles and different covers, I was struck at just how similar the cover images are. In fact, both use Greg Ruth’s core image of a woman with a black scarf (albeit flipped), and both make use of overt spider imagery, along with an overlay of curvy white Nsibidi symbols on her skin. Both also use the same quote by Neil Gaiman. Note the differences, however — the British cover has markedly different hair, and a completely different color tone. She’s looking in different directions as well.

[Click the images for more detailed versions.]

Just for comparison’s sake, here’s the US and British editions of the first novel Akata Witch, released as What Sunny Saw in the Flames in the UK.

Akata Witch-small What Sunny Saw in the Flames-small

Overall I consider the US covers to be more effective…. although of the four, I think the most visually appealing is Sunny and the Mysteries of Osisi, with its eye-catching blue tones and effective title design. I’m glad they broke with the design aesthetic for What Sunny Saw in the Flames, which I don’t think is nearly as effective. If there was a betting pool for these things, I’d bet on a re-issue of the earlier book with a matching cover to Sunny and the Mysteries of Osisi.

Read more about the cover for Sunny and the Mysteries of Osisi here, and a 2017 New York Times article on the release of Akata Warrior here.

Our previous coverage of Okorafor includes:

New Treasures: Binti
New Treasures: Lagoon
What Do I Read First? Who Fears Death and The Book of Phoenix
Birthday Reviews: Nnedi Okorafor’s “Bakasi Man” by Steven Silver

See all the entries in the Tale of Two Covers art series here.

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