Every monster is at least a little scary, but not every monster is ugly. I happen to think everyone is beautiful in their own way. Take me, for example. I’m an ogre with delusions of magi, and I’m cool with that package. I don’t even aspire to troll level handsome. I embrace my fire plug form and appearance.

But some monsters are gorgeousā€¦ Sometimes their beauty is part of their danger. Sometimes, it’s a byproduct or even a remnant of a monstrous transformation. Often, the destroyed beauty is even more striking than the original unmarred being.

Speaking of beautiful (before and after) monsters, I got concept art today from the wonderfully talented Caterina Kalymniou for the Raven Queen, Arise cover. It’s just a simple concept sketch, and I’m over the moon. She captured Illyria in (dead) body and spirit climbing out of a mass grave with her raven guide, Tourak. The composition is even better than what I’d hoped for.

The scene depicted (currently chapter four in this draft) is the last threshold Illyria must cross in her journey from the underworld back into the sun-kissed lands. Before she begins to inflict all her needful darkness upon her unsuspecting enemies.

As artists go, Caterina’s not cheap, but she’s very much worth it. We’re not even done with the first book yet, but I already know I’ll be commissioning the cover art for the other three in this quadrilogy from her.