This. Cover. I've stared at it a lot. I think seeing both glowing reds/oranges and such strong black and white starkness enchanted me. So, I asked author Brandy Colbert a few questions about how it came to be. Turns out, she loves it too--even without blood. Here's Brandy:
"My editor (the indomitable Ari Lewin at Putnam) and I had casually discussed cover concepts while I was deep into edits on the book, but I mean casually. She mentioned bloody pointe shoes ('Like, a pair of pointe shoes just sitting in a pool of blood, yes?') and I was completely on board! I like dark, slightly disturbing covers, and that would have fit the theme of the book quite well. So I always sort of had that image in my mind, and had convinced myself that's what it would be.
"My editor did ask, but I didn't have much besides bloody pointe shoes. I know what I like when I see it, but I'm not a particularly visual person. And I've worked as a magazine editor for quite a while, so I know when to leave the artistic vision to the designers. I love Penguin's covers (and my imprint's, in particular), but I have to say I was a little nervous about the possibility of having a face on the cover. I finally brought it up with my editor and we had a very honest discussion about whitewashing, which put me at ease. I was one hundred percent positive I was in great hands after that.
"The moment I saw my cover was actually really sweet. I was on my way out the door to run errands and stopped to answer a call from my editor. She told me to check my email, and I expected it to be another revision letter to talk out, but it was my cover. I was so happy I started crying and then my editor got teary and my first thought was that it was so beautiful, I couldn't believe it was the cover for my book.
"My editor welcomed comments, but after I couldn't stop staring and gushing over it for a couple of days, I figured I had nothing to suggest. All of the elements worked so well together, I loved the surprising color of the font, and I immediately began thinking of the cover girl as my main character, Theo.
"As you can probably imagine, there aren't a lot of stock photos of black ballet dancers out there, but my designer (the very talented Lindsay Andrews) ended up finding the cover image on the site of an artist named Hwa-Jeen Na, whose photos are gorgeous. The silhouette was perfect to me, as I'm not really a fan of faces on covers (though there are some that work very well and that I love). You can see very clearly that she's a dancer, from the lighting behind her tulle skirt and the bun at the top of her head, but there's also a somber mood, which I like.
"I absolutely love the cover, and have actually grown to love it more the longer I've looked at it, which I didn't think possible. I've fielded a few questions about the soft white circles floating down from the top, but I'm still not sure what it is and I like the ambiguity. I think the cover ties in very well to the book. The black background immediately speaks to the darkness of the story, and the fiery reddish-orange color in the title hints at something startling or surprising within."