Summary (from Goodreads):
No one wanted Ai Ling. And deep down she is relieved—despite the dishonor she has brought upon her family—to be unbetrothed and free, not some stranger's subservient bride banished to the inner quarters.
But now, something is after her. Something terrifying—a force she cannot comprehend. And as pieces of the puzzle start to fit together, Ai Ling begins to understand that her journey to the Palace of Fragrant Dreams isn't only a quest to find her beloved father but a venture with stakes larger than she could have imagined.
Bravery, intelligence, the will to fight and fight hard . . . she will need all of these things. Just as she will need the new and mysterious power growing within her. She will also need help.
It is Chen Yong who finds her partly submerged and barely breathing at the edge of a deep lake. There is something of unspeakable evil trying to drag her under. On a quest of his own, Chen Yong offers that help . . . and perhaps more.
1. Hardcover Edition
2. Paperback Edition
3. Indonesian Cover
I think all three of these covers are beautiful and they represent different aspects of the story really well. There are a couple things I like best about each cover:
This 1st cover is my favorite of the bunch. I'm usually not a huge fan of real people on covers, but this one works really well. The fabric on on her sleeves always remind me of wings, like the wings of the phoenix in the title (mini-spoiler: there's no actual phoenix in the story, but I really like the connection). the girl is beautiful, the dress is beautiful, and the necklace even has a prominent place on the cover (although I didn't notice it until I started reading the book - silly me). I really like the font and general design of this cover as well, and the bright colors of this as opposed to the other covers draw me to it.
The second cover matches the sequel, which is a plus, but on its own I don't love it. I don't really like how the necklace is the focus of the cover. Sure, it's an important aspect of the story, but I'd rather the cover focus on Ai Ling. Also, the cover is really dark, unlike the story, and it seems pretty similar to so many other covers out there - definitely unlike the story. Another thing that bothers me is the quote at the top. Not only are these not the adjectives I'd use to describe this book (well, maybe I would, but in a different context), but that quote makes me want to put the book back on the shelf. Although it is pretty, it doesn't fit this book, and it doesn't fit the kind of book I'd like to read.
At first glance, I didn't really like #3, but the more I look at it, the more I like it. Also, I think it's one of those covers that look better on the book than as a picture online. For this cover, if you have a brightness setting on your computer, I'd recommend turning it all the way up. At second glance, it's actually a lot prettier than the first glance. Although I think it could do with a little bit more color, I like how the text is the brightest color on the cover, and it's red. Also, the font is really pretty, and it goes well with the rest of the cover. I imagine the girl on the cover is pre-quest Ai Ling, which is why she doesn't have the necklace and why everything is in gray. I also like how it incorporates a lot more cultural elements than #2, and even more than #1, because that is one of the things that sets the story apart. I also really like the general design of this cover, and I think all the elements of it work really well together.
My favorite: #1
My least favorite: #2
What's your favorite? Judge this book by its cover!