Circles in the Stream: First Impressions

I don’t think I can start an analysis of the Avalon series without taking a look at the covers.  I remember being more than a little embarrassed when I purchased the original editions at the local Borders – and no, it wasn’t because I was in the children’s literature section of the store.  Something about the cover design bothered me.

Covers and more after the cut.

Credit where it’s due: Original cover (left) was taken from the official Avalon site, and the redesigned cover (right) was from Amazon.

The original covers are a mixed bunch: half of them are competent illustrations, and the rest are poor photomontages.  There’s only two or three of them that I like.  The cover to Circles in the Stream is not one of them.  It’s better than most; at least it doesn’t have people with blank eyes, a problem that plagues the majority of the series’ cover art.  It does, however, feature three items I loathe about the original edition covers:

  1. Unnaturally red hair for one of the characters.
  2. Open-mouthed stares.
  3. A busy, distracting border.

OK, you may not agree with me on those points, but they’ve always bothered me when I looked at the covers.

The reaction on the girls’ faces never sat right with me, either.  Seriously, this is the conversation I imagine them having:

Redhead: “I found a rock.”

Others: “Ooh, shiny.”

Now, the revised edition cover looks awesome.  Three girls stuck in a forbidding, yet enchanting forest, all of them with very character-appropriate expressions.  The brunette appears wary of her companions; the redhead is mesmerized by her surroundings; and the blonde wants to get the hell out.   Oh, and there’s a very lost ferret in the mix.  (The ferret’s never seen in the old edition covers, and that’s always saddened me.)  I find that the new edition covers better capture the atmosphere of the series: lighthearted with dark undertones.  They’re definitely an improvement over the originals, which fail to convey the sense of danger that surrounds the characters on the same level.

Next time: the first chapter of Circles in the Stream, in which we meet a redheaded girl and a leopard.

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14 comments

  1. Finally, someone else who’s annoyed by the drooling open-mouthed stares! I was always embarrassed to be seen reading the original editions in public (even in elementary school) because of the covers. Gawd, I love the art in the new editions.

    1. I know, I’ve always hated them, too. It’s one of the reasons I never brought the books to school — well, that and I was way too old to be reading them at the time. Glad to see someone else feels the same ^_^

      1. Out of curiosity, which of the old covers do you like?

        I think that the old Ghost Wolf one suits the book and has a nice color scheme. The border is one of the…tamest. I love the yin-and-yang concept on the Dark Mage cover, but the photoshopping is meh and the border is fugly–almost plastic-looking. The Cry of the Wolf border is pretty, more understated, and works with the greens in the background, but the people are some of the worst out of any of the covers, imho. They look…dead. Very uncanny valley. The new CotW cover is a massive improvement, probably my favorite out of all of them.

        1. Out of the original covers, I like the ones for the Adriane-centric books (Cry of the Wolf and Ghost Wolf) the best. They both convey the series’ dark undertone, which is absent or poorly presented in the other covers (I’m looking at you, Dark Mage). The blank-stare effect is also absent — or at least lessened — in these covers. The cover to Cry of the Wolf is also one of two original covers to feature a character that’s not one of the main girls, which I thought was refreshing. Though isn’t it rather impractical for Zach to run around irradiated Aldenmor in an Edwardian-era suit?

          Worst covers would have to be the original ones for Spellsinger (that’s just a poor Photoshop job) and Dark Mage (the look on Kara’s face kills it for me), and the revised cover for Ghost Wolf (again, the faces, but I think that cover was done by a different artist).

  2. I don’t understand all the hate for the original covers (except for “Spellsinger”). I actually loved them. I’m not really into the new anime-esque style of the new covers. Maybe it’s just because the originals were the ones I grew up with. But “Circles” was one of my favorites.

    1. For me it’s the blank stares, the distracting borders, and (for some covers) the poor photoshopping. Also, the series’ tone isn’t well conveyed in them. There are some old covers I do like, but for the most part the new covers succeed where the old ones fail.

  3. I only heard of the Avalon books when they were rereleased, and the cover for Circles in the Stream grabbed me as I was visiting Barnes & Noble children’s section. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but I really don’t think I would have given them a chance with the old covers, so I’m very grateful for the new ones.

  4. I half agree, I remember first getting these books when i was like seven and being all excited since the covers were all colourful and ‘oh wow its a drawing but it looks like a photo!’ Yeah, basically my young self was awed. I don’t have that much of a problem with the old covers, but the expressions do kinda bug me.
    But I still like Circles and the first six original covers except spellsinger which is just so WRONG i can’t comprehend how they ever thought it would be okay to publish that. But I didn’t even realise there were six more books in the series, cause i was satasfied with the trial by fire ending so when i found out i was kinda shocked. anyway the new covers are cool except Song of the Unicorns which is a good illustration but totally embarrassing for a 13yr old like me to be purchasing. And adriane’s face on ghost wolf bugs me a bit.

  5. Well, I suppose I should add my impression of the covers as well, but I’m going to organize it cuz that’s what I do. ^-^

    OLD COVERS

    1. The colors are pretty, but totally overwhelming. Honestly, it gives me the impression that the girls are tripping LOL. The open-mouthed stares don’t help either.

    2. Uh, no. Kara’s hair is totally freaked! It looks like there’s rainbow grass growing off her head every direction. Also, unless you zoom in, the jewel looks like a tiny piano… Also, I don’t like the way they drew the d-flies either. Plus, Adriane looks like she’s wearing make-up. ADRIANE.

    3. Adriane: “duh” stare. Storm looks like a zombie wolf. Zach: not only why is his hair perfectly combed when he’s been riding a griffin all day, and is that suit really practical? And his mouth looks a bit odd.

    4. Hm… I like this one better than the others. The only thing is that Lorelei has no expression, and maybe Emily’s chin sticks out a bit. And her hair suddenly got short like it was supposed to be, but of course it’s grown back out by the next book.

    5. I don’t like this cover, but I don’t know why everyone thinks this is the worst. In my opinion, I prefer it to #2. Emily’s face looks weird, and Adriane’s expression isn’t something she’d usually wear, but it’s not that bad.

    6. Kara’s hands look white. And they should show the Sorceress’s hair instead of her hood, but overall this one was pretty decent. The Fairy Map looks pretty cool.

    7. The unicorns… a giraffe unicorn!? And the orange one looks like his chin is saggy. However, Emily looks nice, Adriane’s expression cracks me up (it’s exactly how I imagine her reaction would be to rainbow unicorns), And Kara is so far in the back you can hardly notice her, but her face looks a bit like Matilda from the Matilda movie if you look closely.

    I’ll have to continue this later; I have work to do elsewhere. 😉

    1. All the original edition covers look like the product of a bad LSD trip. I’d love to know what the original cover artist was on when he made them. Scratch that, maybe I don’t. Then my site will look just like those covers ^_^

      Love to hear the rest of your opinions on the original covers! I have original covers for Dark Mage and Full Circle stashed around here somewhere if you want to see them.

  6. Here I go again! 🙂

    8. Okay, the pink fairy looks like it’s not wearing clothes. :-/ Kara looks okay, but I thought her hair was longer than that? And I like Starfire in the background, but I wish they had acually given him features instead of just being shaped like a horse.

    9. Storm’s eyes look dead again. Other than that, this one’s okay, and I like Adriane better, except that (of course) her mouth is open again. *facepalm* And her shirt is wrinkled strangely. I also wish the artist had used a more complementary border, like black or purple, instead of red.

    10. Ah, finally, a border that makes some sort of sense. Emily’s hair looks a little crazy-if it’s going to be tangled, make it a little more realistic? The Fairimental’s shininess is cool, but the shape of her body is just a little awkward. I wouldn’t really notice unless I were looking closely. And if the light is shining on Emily’s legs, why are they purple? However, the color scheme is more pastel than the ultra blinding first book, thank goodness.

    11. Okay, the border’s a little overboard there. And Kara looks more mildly annoyed than angry/scared. But the Yin-Yang bit is cool, and I’ve always liked blue and gold. But Kara doesn’t look evil or mean at all, which is SO unrepresentative of the book. Right now, it really looks like Kara is the Princess in Shining Armor and Adriane is the wicked witch.

    12. Finally! The border actually matches the city (of course, the city didn’t actually look like that, but putting that aside for a moment). More open mouths, but they actually look real and less like clay. Emily’s hair is almost magenta, and I really wish the colors could be subtler, but I like the glass look in the pool. Lastly… why is Ozzie not there? Come ON! And his jewel looks like a bunch of bananas.

    I’ll do the new series now…

  7. NEW SERIES

    1. Hm, well, I like the foresty bit. It’s also fun trying to find all the animals and fairies, because they blend in quite well. However, the shading on Adriane’s face makes her look a little bit like she has stubble, and Storm is too fuzzy looking. Also, Ozzie’s eyes creep me out. The color scheme is cool though, and the girls’ expressions and hair are awesome.

    2. Okay, in this one, Kara’s hair doesn’t stick up from her head. The little brimbee by her feet is really cute too. And yeah, the colors are super bright, but you know, this is KARA’s book. But, alas, now Lyra’s mouth is open. xD

    3. First impression: WHOA. I love how the colors all fit one theme (unlike the aforementioned Ghost Wolf in the original series), which, for an added bonus, is the color of Adriane’s magic! Adriane’s eyes look almost like the Dark Sorceress’s here, but it’s still cool. The mist looks AWESOME.

    4. This cover is my personal favorite. The color scheme of purple with teal accents is GORGEOUS, and the snow looks like stars. I love equines of all sorts, so I’m sort of biased here, but they drew Lorelei SO amazingly. Emily’s hair, although being unusually straight (go figure), is an unobtrusive color of red, with gold highlights, which actually matches really well when you wouldn’t expect it to. (The best part is the scene with the snow is ACTUALLY IN THE BOOK, although I’m not sure Emily was in snow gear and a jacket at the time…) I just wish the title (in the metallic colors, which actually were the color of Emily’s hair in the original series) was less crazily bright, but you are supposed to be drawn to it, I guess.

    5. Okay, lots of stuff here, good and bad.
    First of all, What the hey, Ozzie? He was hardly even IN this book! While the original series didn’t show Ozzie at all, this one seems to feature him a bit too much. I love Emily in this picture. Her shoes are to die for, and her expression is perfect. Adriane looks a bit like a boy, but I suppose she’d be happy about that. Kara’s jacket is over the top (and if you notice on the back cover, her stomach is showing, which I suppose the publishers didn’t see fit for the front), as is her outift, but, you know, whatever. I maybe feel a bit embarrassed carrying this around, because of the bright colors and the puffy jacket. Still, the songnotes surrounding the title are a nice touch.

    6. Oooo, firey. I really wish Adriane had been in the front here. This should be her book, if we’re going in the E-K-A pattern, as apparent from the first five. Sigh. Anyway, Adriane looks a little boyish again, perhaps on purpose? I really wish they had added the Drake here, too. He has yet to be featured on a cover. And, of course, they had to cover up cute little Dreamer with the title and author’s name. Still, the color scheme and the monsters really do set the proper tone for the book, and somehow, Emily’s pose reminds me of the drawing of the orphan in the play Les Miserables. http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-lKkx04E5Gto/UOjGepQHjzI/AAAAAAAAFKY/5EjGqdAKF9g/s1600/les-miserables.jpg
    If this goes through, you should see what I mean. I find it funny. And there’s Ozzie. Again. However, this is more justifiable, as he was with Emily for the entirety of the book.

    Okay, I’ll do the second half later. 😀 This is FUN!

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