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Judging a book by its cover

by David Haber

We finally have images of the covers of the American and British versions of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and if these covers are anything like previous Harry Potter book covers have been, these new covers potentially tell us a lot of what is going to happen in Book 7.

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Reader Comments: (Page 3)

If you click on the US version and enlarge it you can see that there is some sort of mist that Harry appears to be reaching for. He is looking at it, and looks to be drawing it towards him. Volemort, although his face is partially shielded by his robes, looks either frightened or furious. He seems to be pushing it away, or trying to. The whole thing looks positively apocalyptic!

In the adult UK cover the locket is lying on some dark wooded tree. A yew perhaps since that is Volemort's wand wood and is strongly associated the black magic. Just a wild guess there. Also it might just be reflecting the bark of the tree but on the lower right the edge of the locket seems to take on the texture of snakeskin.

And yes, there are the arches in the US cover as well as the one in the UK cover. Could Harry have dragged Voldemort through the veil of in the Ministry? And they have to battle it out there? Maybe the shadowy onlookers are the ? Possibly they have to battle it out there because strictly speaking they BOTH ought to be having been hit by the Avada Kedavra curse. Maybe the UK cover is showing Harry, Ron and Hermione tumbling through the archway after Voldemort. Harry may be able to come back because of Fawkes, but not Ron and Hermione?

Must say of the three covers the one I really like is the US cover. I like the focus of it and the shadowy otherworld feel. But there are more clues, and no doubt more red herrings in the UK children's cover.

About Harry being at Privet Drive. That's the form the books have always taken, and now we now about the protection Harry has always had there, it makes perfect sense both in practical and literary terms. Nearly always in quest stories the hero or heroine has to set out from a place of safety into the adventure. Think of Bilbo leaving Bag End to go off with the dwarves, or Frodo with Sam. I'm sure Harry remain at Privet Drive until he turns seventeen or nearly so. Also I think Harry and Aunt Petunia have some talking to do. I think that is a very loose end that needs to be tied up. No matter how much he loathes the Dursleys, Harry needs to put that behind him before he goes on. Despite her feelings Petunia did take him, and kept him even after the Dementor attack in OOTP. She knew then what she was risking, yet for some reason she over ruled her husband. Don't think we're going to see a Big Hug there, but a simple thank you would be okay. And Petunia may well give Harry some more information about Lily.

Posted by Elizabeth from Australia on March 28, 2007 6:01 PM

very interesting there's what i think is nagani and there's harry's patronous or perhaps is it james?

Posted by eddy from Monterrey,NL, Mexico on March 28, 2007 6:01 PM

It is interesting that Ron also seems to have an injury on his face in the UK version. This definitely indicates that all of them are fighting something. As to the US version, it kind of looks like Harry's scar may be blended in with his hair, although his scar has always been more pronounced in other books. Unless, perhaps, something is happening during his battle with Voldemort that is eliminating his scar. Another thought occurs, does the archway in the UK version have anything to do with the archway Sirius fell into?

Posted by Revan from MC, IN on March 28, 2007 6:01 PM

Is it me or could the curtains be what Sirius Black fell through in the Order of the Phoenix? You never really knew what was on the other side. Maybe this explains why neither of them appear to have wands. Also the muttering that Harry and Luna hear at the Ministry could be coming from those shadowy figures in the background of the cover.

Posted by Anonymous from Connecticut on March 28, 2007 6:35 PM

I have a couple of things to add.

First, if you look at the British cover closely there is something reflected in Harry's glasses which he seems to be focused on (Ron and Hermione each look like they're preoccupied with things off to either side; Hermione looks like she might be diving for/trying to catch something (maybe?)), which looks a bit like a bright silhouette.

Secondly, on the American cover, a couple of people said they don't see a scar. I zoomed in on Harry's head and I think I DO see a scar, though it's hard to distinguish from the bits of hair. One clump of "hair" seems to form an abrupt 90-degree angle which is inconsistent with the way the rest of his hair is drawn.

Also the locket someone pointed out that he's wearing looks to me like it might actually be a small bad of some kind... dunno what would be in it...

Posted by Elizabeth from Mobile, Alabama on March 28, 2007 6:39 PM

Elizabeth, I thought that too. It looked to me like a Native American medicine bag. Or maybe it has garlic in it, to ward off Vampires... Has anyone seen Snape anywhere?:-)

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on March 28, 2007 6:42 PM

Did anyone else notice that Voldemort is green? I don't know it just seems weird that Voldemort is always described as chalk white and then suddenly he looks like a lizard.
Now more than ever I wish I lived in the UK so that I could have the book with Slytherins locket on the front.
Does anyone in the US know where I can get a British copy? That cover is so cool!

Posted by Ashley from Missouri on March 28, 2007 6:44 PM

Anyone can buy the UK versions of the books online by going to That's how I got mine!

Evie: I think you may be right. I looked closer and I think it may not be a house-elf, it may be a goblin. Look at the ears and the fingers.

If that's true, then most likely the British cover depicts a battle at Gringotts, and the arch in the background is probably an open vault, and all the stuff in the foreground is the treasure spilling out of the vault.

Posted by Dave Haber from Los Angeles, CA on March 28, 2007 6:52 PM

Maybe the Armour on the UK cover is the Goblin made armour that was talked about in the Half-Blood Prince...

Posted by Anonymous from Connecticut on March 28, 2007 7:08 PM

American readers may purchase both British Editions AND Stephen Fry books on CD from UK.

The snake in the 'rememberall', Crystal Ball, Stasis Field, may indeed be Nagini but there are also styilized stars depected there. It could be a glass ball with stars and almost like a 'slytherin christmas globe' with some magical property as well.

Have we seen any Gringott's doors which are circular in the past? In HBP the defences guarding Horcruxes were in more than one level. It is possible that the injuries suffered by the trio were caused by the outer level defences and that the cover depects their arrival at the 'inner' and more powerful defence.

The Veil is described as 'a tattered black curtain or veil'. No mention is made of anything to hold it back towards the arch, or that it is divided. The ampatheatre on the Ministry side has seats. The Cover illustration has apparently both sky above and no seats.. it is more like a bull ring, or a gladiator's arena where the walls are steep and seating only appears above the walls of the arena. They do take artistic license with artwork of course, but it is also a very good red herring to have more than one curtain involved here.

Posted by Charlie Tarbox from Gettysburg, Pa on March 28, 2007 7:11 PM

Now i just have to convince my mother to be nice and get me a British copy... She isn't too pleased that I'm making her get an American copy in it of itself!
But I think it is a house elf, presumably Dobby, who do anything for Harry. Kreacher probably betray Harry like he did Padfoot, and Winky is in "considerable distress"
I doubt very much that it is a goblin because goblins aren't too friendly with wizards.
First off, wizards their species. Second, wizards are untrustworthy (thanks Ludo Bagman for owing them money and then running). All around goblins don't like wizards too much, so I seriously wonder if the goblins would ally themselves with wizards in a battle like that.

Posted by Ashley from Missouri on March 28, 2007 7:28 PM

I really like the intensity and drama of the US cover. I can definately see a scar on Harry (it's slightly hidden by his hairline). As to the object around harry's neck, my first thought was that it was THE locket. Although, I can see how it might be some sort of protective (medicine?) bag, too.

The British children's version does give us quite a lot of clues. I see a snake (nagnini?), a dog (sirius) and a stag (James/Harry's patronus). To me it looks like all the kids are injured. I really think that it may be Dobby on Harry's shoulder, only because I could ee Dobby coming to the aid of the kids. However, there are so many unaswered questions about Kreacher, he certainly is a likely suspect. It must be Griffindor's sword. Why are Ron and Hermione so dressed up? Where were they?

As for the British Adult version...didn't really give us much, did it?

Rather than reiterate everyone else's observations (like them all)---bravo Dave Haber once again:)

Posted by Heather from NJ on March 28, 2007 7:36 PM

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