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The City’s Son Cover Reveal

It’s not often that you read a book and feel sorry for the publishers, but that happened to me with Tom Pollock’s novel, The City’s Son. Oh, it wasn’t bad; on the contrary, it was damned phenomenal. It is one of the most imaginative pieces of genre fiction I’ve ever read. In a nutshell then:

The book is about a young girl, Beth Bradley, who ends up getting expelled from school due to an uncharacteristic betrayal from her best friend. With life at home offering her nothing more than an alcoholic father, who barely realises she exists, she flees to the only place she has ever felt comfortable, the streets. Quickly, Beth learns that if you really spend time looking at the streets of London; things are not quite as ‘normal’ as they first appear. Inanimate things seem to have a life of their own.

Then, on her first night, Beth runs into a street urchin with incredible powers of strength and rejuvenation. To her amazement, this street urchin, Filius Viae, is the son of a Goddess. Unfortunately, this Goddess, founder and protector of the streets, has disappeared and in her absence, Filius has only just been able to hold things together.

Everything is about to change though. For now, another God, Reach – King of the Cranes – a malevolent God of demolition, has begun to assemble an army. With nowhere else to go, Beth decides that she really has no other option but to join Filius and embrace the secrets that London has to offer.

What makes this book so amazing is the mind of Tom Pollock. Pollock seamlessly crafts an alternative version of London. A London that literally lives and breathes. From creatures made of litter through to wolves made out of scaffolding, inanimate objects are given life and breath, and somehow it feels completely believable. The narrative is wonderful and although it is classified as a YA Novel, and therefore has those recognisable young adult themes, it never condescends the reader. With all this in mind, The City’s Son is certainly going to be one of the most remarked upon releases of 2012.

So, why on Earth would I feel bad for a publisher when the book is so damned awesome?

They have to stick a cover on it.

Yes, how on Earth do you cover a young adult novel that has familiar themes and yet treads new ground in terms of imagination and overall vision? This book is certainly not Twilight, so we don’t really want to have two characters embracing on the cover. This isn’t generic enough to have those familiar covers with a characters face superimposed upon them. They needed to come up with a cover that represented the novel and yet showed its uniqueness as a piece of literature.

The City's Son (cover)So, as soon as I put the advanced reader copy (that didn’t have a cover) down, I contacted Jo Fletcher books and asked them what the cover would look like. They told me, “We have a cover. It is a YA Cover. But we don’t think it is quite right for the UK audience we are targeting.”

It seemed I had foreseen the problem with the book whilst reading it; how on Earth will you cover this thing? After asking a few more questions, it turned out that the publishers had originally gone with the standard two characters (one shirtless) type cover to your right. That is cool, it will probably sell a fair amount of books to teens who are attracted to that kind of book, but would Tom Pollock really reach his intended audience? Young adults, and indeed adults, who want a book that challenges them intellectually, that promises uniqueness and yet somehow familiarity. I’m wasn’t so sure…

I was therefore delighted when Jo Fletcher (Founder of Jo Fletcher Books, an imprint of Quercus) and Nicola Budd (Jo’s Assistant) told me that they were working really hard on new concepts for the cover.

What they have come up with, in my opinion, is perfect. And without further build up from me, here is it:

This cover promises sophistication, it tells the reader, with the city that runs along the bottom, that a lot of what is in this book will feel familiar and yet, with the Angels and creatures weaved into the text, that there will be elements of the unnatural. Certainly, a word to describe it would be unique, and that certainly sums up The City’s Son.

Well, I hope you guys are impressed and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. But, in what has become a Fantasy-Faction tradition, I wanted to ask the author, Tom Pollock what he thought of the cover and whether it fairly represented his novel. Here is what he had to say:

I’m very biased, but I think JFB have done a stunning job with the cover. It captures beautifully the sense of an urban mythology and weird monsters lurking in the modern city. There’s also something in the way they’ve done the title text which carries a sense of a rich storytelling tradition, maybe the first writing down of an oral tradition. This could almost be an artifact of the creatures and cultures I have in the book: a history transcribed by the Pavement Priests. I love it.

Well, the sad thing is, you can’t buy the book yet. I’ve read it, I get these privileges as a reviewer ;), and yet, I cannot reveal to you my full thoughts (psst! It’s awesome!). You can however pre-order the novel on Amazon and Read more about it on Jo Fletcher’s website.

I’ll be posting a full review up in August – so be sure to check back then. 🙂



  1. GavReads says:

    A kick ass cover to a kick ass book. Having read an advance copy this book raises the bar in every day! Like Urban Fantasy that’s intelligent, compelling and slightly crazy? Read this!

  2. Gene says:

    I love the art! Very elegant and very cool! Its simple and yet wildly artistic! I hope Toms proud! I would be! It really is amazing! Can’t wait to swoop it up!

  3. Amy B. says:

    I’m utterly biased, but this cover blew me away. JFB worked hard to create something that captured the spirit of the book but also something that would capture readers’ attention, and what they ended up with is so beautiful and arresting. I look forward to receiving the physical copy so I can pet it fondly. 😉

  4. Mark Burgess says:

    Awesome cover! This has got so much potential and it will be great to see it on our shelves! Good things await you Tom!

  5. That cover is a bit lovely, isn’t it? Tom’s short story ‘Evacuation’ put me on notice of a bright new talent about to burst onto the scene at some point very soon; the cover means the book will now look as good as I hope it’s going to read.

    I’m jealous of you Marc, you and Gav both, for getting to read it so early. I tell you, that sort of thing is almost (only almost) enough to make me take up reviewing stuff.

  6. Jared says:

    Great, great cover. So delighted. (And Dan’s right – anyone that’s too eager to wait for the book’s release can read Tom’s beautiful “Evacuation” in Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse….hinthint)

  7. Ally says:

    Absolutely love it!! A beautiful cover for a beautiful book!

  8. @FunkyScarecrow says:

    I’ve just seen the cover for The City’s Son on @FantasyFaction. That’s one lovely looking book. Roll on Aug. so I can read it.

  9. @jdiddyesquire says:

    Reminds me of RIVERS OF LONDON, but much cleaner.

  10. @nikkiann says:

    Absolutely love the new cover!

  11. @ChristelAdina says:

    Gorgeous cover, makes me want to devour it even more!

  12. @ladypembroke says:

    Oh, wow. That looks amazing! I’m in… *runs off and buys ebook for her Nook*

  13. Indulgent Words says:


  14. @davidmbarnett says:

    That is very nice.

  15. Hell of a cover! Love it!

  16. Sarah Bryars says:

    Jeez Louise – that’s a good cover.

  17. Lou Morgan says:

    Oh. So. Pretty. Worth waiting for?

  18. Widow Aodh says:

    Thanks for facilitating this discussion.
    The cover looks great…a fine solution. However my only worry is that this London silhouette is everywhere, from cushions to children’s bed linen in high street chain stores.Its almost an Olympics motif. Just feel that it could date too quickly.

  19. Jenny Barber says:

    It is gooooooorgeous! Can’t wait for it to be out!

  20. Reviewer Rachel says:

    Yay! I love intellectual novels…thanks for the heads up, I’ll be looking for it!

  21. @girlinthelens says:

    The new cover is AMAZING Tom! Need that on my shelf now.

  22. Rob Cutforth says:

    Ooh, very nice!

  23. @BBookLBook says:


  24. @Robins_Books says:

    I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but it looks many times more appealing now.

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