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Fantasy-Faction is excited to host the cover reveal for Jeannette Ng’s Under the Pendulum Sun! Due out in October 2017 from our friends at Angry Robot, Under the Pendulum Sun is a creepy, dark gothic fantasy in which missionaries visit fairyland to spread the word of the Lord. What they don’t bank on however, is the tricksy nature of the fae folk, and before long their simple mission is anything but.

Sound interesting? Here’s the official synopsis:

Catherine Helstone’s brother, Laon, has disappeared in Arcadia, legendary land of the magical fae. Desperate for news of him, she makes the perilous journey, but once there, she finds herself alone and isolated in the sinister house of Gethsemane. At last there comes news: her beloved brother is riding to be reunited with her soon – but the Queen of the Fae and her insane court are hard on his heels.

Here at FF we’re huge fans of Angry Robot. In particular, their covers are consistently original, exciting, and high-quality. Jeannette Ng’s debut – by cover artist John Coulthart – is no different.

Look at this bad boy!

Under The Pendulum Sun (cover)

Here’s what author Jeannette Ng had to say about this stunningly intricate cover:

I’m so excited about how the cover captures Under the Pendulum Sun’s take on the gothic: imposing architecture, kaleidoscopic faerie dreams, malevolent mirrors and the oppressive presence of the Pale Queen herself. Mab being a composite being particularly appeals to my own take on the fae.

I love how John has used real 1800s missionary cover designs as it mirrors the adapted historic texts I’ve used in the novel. I first had the idea for a missionary going to fairyland when accidentally coming across a series of Victorian missionary manuals at the back of the university library. After a mocking read-through in my living room with friends of how really quite awful they are in their xenophobia, I began wondering what it would be like for them to actually encounter beings that really are as truly alien as they describe. When one of the fae taunt Cathy about how obsessed her people are of the fae and that they project fae-like otherness onto other undeserving humans, it was this that I thought of.

And here’s artist John Coulthart’s take on his subject:

I had two intentions with this cover: the first was to follow the missionary theme by attempting a pastiche of 19th-century missionary literature (assuming there was anything to be found that was worth pastiching). The second intention was to try and reflect the wealth of invention in the story. I’ve always liked film posters that show many things happening simultaneously, and I often want to try something similar on book covers. Space is more limited on a book cover, of course, but I felt there might be a way to fill out this one without it becoming incoherent. The symmetrical composition helps; our brains seem to cope more easily with profuse detail if it’s arranged in a harmonious manner.

The symmetry was determined in part by the frame which is my adaptation of a cover for The Church Missionary Gleaner from 1874. This gave me the arch design and the idea of using scrolls for the titles. Online copies weren’t good enough quality to use directly so I drew my own version of the arch and added a stronger border. The “Pendulum Sun” typography is copied from the Gleaner lettering while the other letterforms are from a small book from 1882, The Art of Garnishing Churches. It’s more work to hand-create all the lettering but doing this gives you something unique.

Under The Pendulum Sun (cover)The Pale Queen is such a dominant character in Jeannette’s novel that she was a natural choice for the focus of the composition. I had in mind a figure like Spenser’s Faerie Queene or Elizabeth I, hence the inflated sleeves (layered with bird feathers) and the ruff-style neckpiece which is made from pieces of dragon wing. This is yet another illustration in which I collaged together many tiny bits of 19th-century engraving in order to create something that looks like a product of the period while still being original; you can’t tell but her face is an amalgam of three different faces blended together. Sometimes I spend so long doing this I feel it would be quicker to simply draw whatever the object or person is but I like the restrictions imposed by the collage method: being limited by period sources can raise possibilities you might not otherwise consider.

The rest of the queen’s dress is a lace bodice with a skirt made from butterfly wings; subtle details such as the Death’s-head hawkmoth and the snake coils twining from the folds allude to the queen’s sinister nature. Elsewhere, the floating fairies were the one useful detail I found in a book of Victorian stories, while the house is another convenient find from one of Jim Harter’s collections of engraved illustrations. I have a large collection of Harter’s books which I use as source material together with the scanned volumes at the Internet Archive. The scrolls are from the Internet Archive, adapted from examples in their collection of old typographic catalogues.

We hope you’re as excited as we are to read this intriguing debut! Under the Pendulum Sun is scheduled for release by Angry Robot on October 3, 2017. If you like to find out more about the novel you can check out the author’s website or follow her on Twitter!



  1. Avatar ScarletBea says:

    That is a truly amazing cover – so intricate, you keep discovering new things…

  2. […] Under the Pendulum Sun by Jeannette Ng. Releases in October 2017 from Angry Robot. I don’t usually talk about cover artists, but I have to give a shout out to artist John Coulthart, who designed this gorgeous cover. You can read more about the cover reveal over at Fantasy Faction. […]

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