Mortal Engines: New Look, New Series Title.

NOTE: This post dates from June 2015, and is just here for historical interest – assuming anyone is interested in the history of the Mortal Engines series. The Era of the Crap UK Covers is over now, and the original cover illustrations by David Frankland have been restored. However, this was how I tried to make the best of a bad situation back in 2015…


There are some changes coming to the world of Mortal Engines. As of next month the original quartet will be re-launched in the UK with new covers, and a new series title: PREDATOR CITIES.  Here are what the new versions will look like:


The covers are certainly an improvement on the previous ones, which had no illustrations at all. Personally I far prefer the original covers or the David Wyatt ones, but I’m heaven knows how old and I guess these are aimed at, y’know, the kids…  The Bookzone For Boys blog has a very generous assessment of them, and some interesting responses from young readers, here.

The Predator Cities series title is a good move, I think, and this is a good time to make the change as the series will be re-published in the USA next month, too (with yet more new covers, which I’ll post here shortly).  If I’d set out to write more than one book when I started Mortal Engines I expect I would have come up with a series title back then, and perhaps it has been a handicap to the books that they didn’t have one. Also, it was always my intention that the Fever Crumb books would be a separate series with a slightly different feel, so it makes sense to split them off from Predator Cities.  Perhaps the Fever books will end up with a series title of their own one day.

(Of course, the chances of me actually remembering to call them Predator Cities after thinking of them as The Mortal Engines Quartet for ten years, are minimal.)


  1. Anonymous
    May 27, 2012 @ 09:24:04

    Wow!! Wish I was discovering them now so that I could buy them all!! Much better than the primary coloured editions! 🙂


  2. Anonymous
    May 27, 2012 @ 09:58:28

    The old covers were better, I think. These covers don't do justice to the epic creations enclosed inside them; apart from the one for "Predator's Gold", it makes the world of Mortal Engines seem like a trashy sci-fi world. WHICH IT ISN'T! <3


  3. Jaqi
    May 27, 2012 @ 10:07:28

    TBH, I don't particularly like them (although I'm not the target demographic…) but hopefully they will attract new readers!
    I'm happy to stick with my much loved original David Frankland cover editions 🙂


  4. L. M. Silva
    May 27, 2012 @ 10:10:32

    I like how Predator Cities sounds, but I'm sticking to Mortal Engines Quartet!

    The covers look pretty good (as a librarian, I know for sure it'll catch a kid's attention) but I still like the first editions the best! 😀


  5. Anonymous
    May 27, 2012 @ 10:33:50

    I am sad and confused by these strange images.


  6. Philip Reeve
    May 27, 2012 @ 10:59:35

    They seem to be dividing opinion pretty neatly. I should point out that I have no say in cover designs. It does seem that they appeal to boys, which is good. My fear, however, is that they will appeal to nobody else…


  7. Xander
    May 27, 2012 @ 12:08:28

    I quite like the covers (24 year male), especially compared to the 'new' versions with just the title and logo-type design… but I also agree that they aren't a patch on the original covers


  8. Stefan
    May 27, 2012 @ 12:23:14

    I was always a fan of "The Hungry City Chronicles". And lets say I'm glad I own the old covers 🙂


  9. Margaret C
    May 27, 2012 @ 12:55:50

    Sorry, Stefan, but I think "Hungry City" sounds like a knock off Hunger Games – and Mortal Engines is far superior to those ! I'm not sure why they aren't sticking to 'Mortal Engines', which I love for the complexity of the words, makes you ask questions and "Predator Cities" simply doesn't. Again, not a fan of the new covers – that's not how I envisioned those scenes!!! – but, again, not the demographic as a mid-30 woman !! Little sad that they are aiming for a demographic at all. I read Mortal Engines to my class of 10yr olds and several of the girls went out and bought the series after. Surely a good book transcends demographics ?
    One thing, I got VERY excited when I saw the Predator Cities box above, because I thought I maybe had missed a book or series… alas, I'll just have to do a re-read over the summer hols !! Roll on Fever Crumb 4 !!!


  10. Rosanne
    May 27, 2012 @ 14:00:15

    The original covers were best, they were what drew me to the series! But in the end, as long as people are reading them, it doesn't matter what the cover's like.


  11. Anonymous
    May 27, 2012 @ 14:10:01

    These new covers are good but there was just something about the original covers that really drew me to them. Though now I am older I probably just like what I grew up seeing and loving…


  12. Anonymous
    May 27, 2012 @ 14:28:03

    I prefer the adult edition ones with just the text on the front. The stalkers look a bit too shiny and prop-like, and I'd prefer being able to imagine the characters myself (I presume that's Wren and Theo on the A Darkling Plain cover?). I like the general theme of them though, Predator's Gold is probably my favourite of these.


  13. grubstreethack
    May 27, 2012 @ 14:29:29

    I much prefer the original editions, which are some of the greatest covers I've ever seen. They really captured the tone of the series within – the cover of Mortal Engines, for example, is muddy and grimy and rusty-red, and the art style itself is smudged and jagged at the edges.

    These look like the kind of CGI things you get when you google "desktop background."


  14. Cary Watson
    May 27, 2012 @ 16:26:08

    This is Xbox-style artwork. The Predator Cities banner across the top really reinforces this idea, and there's nothing here to suggest the strong element of grrl power in the books. Not the the worst covers I've ever seen, but definitely very…meh. Here's my review of A Web of Air:


  15. Tim Knight
    May 27, 2012 @ 16:49:54

    These look like computer game covers to me – but (much like several other commentators above) I guess at 45 I'm way outside the target demographic anyway 😉


  16. Rhys
    May 27, 2012 @ 16:55:16

    I've already expelled my thoughts into the ether on this matter, but I thought I'd do it publically: I can appreciate that teh new covers will bring the books to a whole new audience (something which is very good), but I personally, as an artist and a reader, prefer the first eds because I feel they capture the series perfectly and are absolutely lovely to look at.


  17. Joanne Sheppard
    May 27, 2012 @ 16:59:04

    They've clearly been designed with boys in mind, and the artwork and the layout is obviously heavily influenced by gaming. They basically look like something my nephew would play on XBox. Which is great when it comes to targeting teenage boys, who are supposedly the hardest to reach when it comes to books, but not so great for encouraging girls to pick them up. Whereas the previous covers were pretty gender-neutral in terms of appeal, I would have thought. The new covers are very hard-sci-fi, rather than having the quirky steampunk fantasy feel than the older covers did.

    I certainly think the older covers had much more crossover appeal in terms of attracting adults as well as younger readers. I've got to admit that as a woman in my 30s, I probably wouldn't pay much attention to books with these covers, whereas the previous covers caught my eye. (I do appreciate I'm not really the target audience though, of course!)


  18. Anonymous
    May 27, 2012 @ 18:40:11

    I like these. But I'm a 20 year old female who enjoys video games as much as books, so I quess that's why I'm okay with them. The title could have stayed the same though. And I'm from the U.S., so maybe the new art here will be decent.


  19. Bleck
    May 30, 2012 @ 13:23:13

    I enjoy these covers, but I do enjoy the originals as well. It all differs on your tastes in art and i figure these will definitely get Sci-Fi readers interested in the series. @Phillip I understand your fear, but when I started your series 3 years ago i was only 15 and the covers really make no difference because you really can't judge these books by their covers.


  20. heliconian-julz
    May 30, 2012 @ 14:25:21

    Well, if they're going to draw more readers in then that's great! It's quite a different aesthetic. Not my cup of tea but then I am a 21 year old female. I still love the original editions I grew up with.


  21. Azvolrien
    Jun 09, 2012 @ 23:41:59

    I quite like the one for Predator's Gold, but I'm not so keen on the CG models they've used for the other ones… They don't seem to have rendered the faces very well. Still, if they attract a bunch of new readers, then it's all for the best. Predator Cities does roll off the tongue a little easier, too.

    (Long time fan, first time commenter here. At the risk of sounding creepy and obsessive, I have loved everything of yours that I've ever read.)


  22. Philip Reeve
    Jun 22, 2012 @ 07:40:14

    Thanks for all your comments, everybody! It's been very interesting to read other people's reactions to these. Sorry I haven't had time to reply individually.

    Azvolrien. I'd agree that Predator's Gold is far better than the others – and it looked better still before they slapped that strange blue and white strap across the top to make it look even more like a computer game.

    Joanne, I do fear you're right about them lacking appeal to girls, but we shall see. This is the first time there have been figures on the covers (or at least figures large enough for us to make out their faces) and although they're not very good faces, at least half of them are girls, so perhaps that will make a difference.


  23. Margaret C
    Jun 22, 2012 @ 11:58:35

    During a reading lesson on the importance of a good cover, I brought my class of 10yr olds onto this page and had a GREAT discussion ! I guess the publishers are bang on demographically because all my boys, bar one, preferred these covers, stating many of the reasons covered above ( my class are smart cookies !) The girls were a bit more 'meh' about them, and the 'Predator Cities' vs 'Mortal Engines' was pretty evenly split.
    As I say, it was a really good discussion, hooking the children far better because it was something they were actually interested in – I just wish HMI had been around to see it !


  24. Anonymous
    Jun 22, 2012 @ 19:15:31

    I definitely prefer the older covers. They were quite plain- simple which I prefer. I think these illustrations take away the great uniqueness of the brilliant content.
    Oh well- I suppose this is the future!


  25. Custom Logo Design
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 07:29:00

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  26. Joe Coleman
    Jul 10, 2012 @ 19:17:21

    i'm only 13 so you probably wont listen, but i think the old covers were better. these look a bit too photoshopy if you get my meaning. also i am not so keen on the idea of showing stalkers on the covers as i liked how could picture them in your own mind. i like the new title though.


  27. Philip Reeve
    Jul 11, 2012 @ 12:47:49

    Thanks for your comment, Joe. If you're 13 then you're EXACTLY the sort of person these covers are aimed at, so that's very interesting to hear.


  28. Ed Ei
    Jul 14, 2012 @ 12:36:11

    I read the first two books when I was 10 or 11 and I can safely say that I wouldn't have if these would have been the covers.
    First of all, they look very digital. Like they've been rendered in a computer program rather than painted by an artist.
    Second of all, they lack the steampunk feel of the originals, they come off as some sort of bad sci-fi video game.
    Third of all I think it's stupid to show the characters on the covers, it dampens the imagination. Cover art should be limited to structures, vehicles and animals.


  29. Anonymous
    Jul 15, 2012 @ 20:30:04

    i'm a boy, I love philip's books but the covers are really bad, the others looked a lot more interesting, now they look tatty and horrid. I also love terry Pratchett, i started reading his books when i was 9, and it does matter on how they look!


  30. Sam Wilderspin
    Jul 22, 2012 @ 21:51:23

    Sad to say it, but I think these new covers are really awful. I don't like the new series name, although I do think it's a good move, particularly thinking about the younger readers.

    Unfortunately, those CG covers look cheap. The cloudy series tab at the top speaks nothing of the tone or content of the books and the whole thing feels a bit cheapened.

    A boy above mentioned how he felt disappointed they are dictating the look of the stalkers. So true.

    Does it not seem obvious to stick a well crafted image of A MOVING CITY on the front? I enjoyed the original covers, as well as those ones with the pretty art behind a flappy door/cover/thing.


  31. Edward Ramsden
    Aug 21, 2012 @ 12:55:52

    I'm sorry. I love these books more than any others. I'm now reading Scriveners Moon and am enjoying it, but these new covers look like a poorly made PC game that is only sold on pound land. They look terrible, I wouldn't have read them in a million years with covers like that. Id hate to have started reading this amazing series thinking that the stalkers look like gold plated ravers from the 90's. What made you agree to this change and swapping the name from Mortal Engines to Predator cities is also a terrible move. All I can hope is that there is more books to come. I love the series but am dis-heartened that you let you beloved series become a trashy sci-fi novel.


  32. Philip Reeve
    Aug 24, 2012 @ 18:16:32

    Thanks for your comments Edward. Speaking personally, I agree with you: I am deeply unhappy with these covers and I rather like your description of these Stalkers as 'gold-plated ravers from the '90s'. However, since you ask 'What made you agree to this change?' I have to stress that I had no say in it (or only a very minimal say: on the original version of the Mortal Engines cover Shrike had EVEN MORE SALIVA and the figures on ADP were even worse). If I had had my way the books would have stuck with the David Wyatt covers (the artwork from which is what I use on this site), but without the fragile outer covers which made those versions so easy to damage and so hard for bookshops to put stickers on.


  33. AtticusLye
    Sep 05, 2012 @ 00:49:01

    I do LOVE the original covers, especially the font, for some reason. I'd also like to point out that the stalker (presumably Shrike)is WAYYYYY off what I imagined. But on a more positive note I LOVE THE SERIES, whatever it's called. I recommended it to all my friends and they loved it too! IT'S EPIC!!!!!


  34. Khaiya
    Sep 13, 2012 @ 04:01:15

    I absolutely adore these old covers:

    They are what encouraged me to pick up the series way back when they were coming out! I am an illustrator and they are fantastic! The story and characters, of course, are what kept me hooked, they MORE than fulfilled the promise that the covers made to me.

    As far as book covers go though…

    Right now, when I walk into the young adults section of book stores I almost feel ashamed to be there because of the number of horrible covers! All these stark photos of whitefaced people surrounded by black looking down on me forlornly. These are not inviting! My goodness!

    At least these covers do not follow THAT publishing fad!!!


  35. Ashton Lye
    Sep 18, 2012 @ 22:14:40

    Just out of interest, what was the font on the original covers? I've been looking and looking and haven't been able to find it!


  36. Philip Reeve
    Sep 21, 2012 @ 14:31:03

    Hi Ashton. The lettering for the originals was created specially for them; I'm afraid I don't know the designer's name.


  37. Anonymous
    Sep 30, 2012 @ 20:26:01

    I'm a11 year old boy and I hate the new covers. The originals were much better.


  38. Anonymous
    Sep 30, 2012 @ 20:42:17

    As an 11 year old boy I'm very disapointed. The new covers look cheap and worthless and the stalkers are nothing like I imagined them to be. The limpet ( I have to suppose ) is really just a fail and the tracks on London are way too small and all together I hate the new covers if I had been buying them now I would have not cast them a second glance and predator cities is not as good by far to mortal engines so a no from me on the new covers.


  39. Anonymous
    Sep 30, 2012 @ 21:24:00

    These would look more at home in a game store


  40. Anonymous
    Nov 23, 2012 @ 18:52:05

    As a twelve year old girl myself, my whole family has been through a phase of loving the Mortal Engines Quartet. We were all appalled at these new covers – They look like video games! They don't capture the rusty, dystopian, original feeling that makes Mortal Engines so unique. One of the greatest things about Mortal Englines is that it appealed to everyone, but these just don't seem right.
    Love the books, but PLEASE, go back to the original illustations, THEY were amazing.


  41. Philip Reeve
    Nov 27, 2012 @ 15:54:09

    Well, it's pretty clear what you all think, and I agree. I've also had a lot of complaints about the new covers at signings, and whenever people have a choice between the new covers and the earlier ones they choose the latter; this is true of children in schools just as much as older readers. Unfortunately I have no say in the look of the books, so, as much as I'd like to see them go back to the earlier covers, it's not up to me!


  42. Anonymous
    Dec 15, 2012 @ 23:27:44

    I (17 yr old male) do not like the new covers, because usually the sort of books which have CGI covers are really rubbish spin-off books from CGI tv-shows or video games. The type of people that these covers will attract are people who will be dissapointed that what they have picked up is not an Xbox game after all. However what I find most worrying is the fact that the author has basically no say in the matter.


  43. Johnny
    Jan 03, 2013 @ 15:44:45

    These books, I think, are the types that, if not willed or copyrighted otherwise, will be made into films when Philip Reeve is dead.


  44. Philip Reeve
    Jan 05, 2013 @ 09:47:05

    Now there's a cheery thought…


  45. Philip Reeve
    Jan 05, 2013 @ 09:47:48

    I'd much rather they were made into films while I while I'm still alive!


  46. sinister agent
    Feb 16, 2013 @ 00:46:56

    I'm 28 years old and I hate to say it, but these covers are terrible. They're just all wrong, missing the feel of the books and looking bad (the blue strap is awful) in general, so cheap and generic that I seriously doubt I'd have even looked at them twice when I was a boy (the kind of throwaway scifi/fantasy pulp they look like is ten a penny). I used to work in a library, and I probably shouldn't admit it, but the original artwork by David Frankland is what drew me to the series in the first placeback in 2006 – I saw them every other time I went in the childrend's library and eventually I just couldn't ignore them any longer, they were too pretty and exciting and interesting to look at. I'm so glad I did.

    The David Wyatt covers aren't my favourite, but they are vastly better too. I'm really saddened to hear that even an established author like you has no real say in these things, especially when you are absolutely right.

    But to close on a positive: I'm a huge fan of Mortal Engines (Hester Shaw is one of my favourite characters in anything ever) and have just today got another friend (I'm up to four now!) reading them. My oldest friend is nearly 30 and when I asked him about the ending he said "I blubbed, and I am not ashamed". They're just too wonderful. Thank you so much for writing them.


  47. dsfsdasd
    May 29, 2013 @ 08:39:03

    I work in the children's department of Waterstones Oxford and it feels as though the series has fallen under the radar somewhat. I know that you should never judge a book by its cover but unless I have described the content FIRST, the customers are always put off by these covers when they see them. It's a real shame in my opinion.


  48. dsfsdasd
    May 29, 2013 @ 08:39:42

    I won't stop recommending them though!


  49. Philip Reeve
    May 30, 2013 @ 12:12:16

    Well thanks, dsfsdasd! I'm afraid you're right. Before this latest re-jacketing I used to sell twenty or thirty of these books easily when I did a signing or an event, now I just get a queue of people asking where they can find copies with the original covers. For all practical purposes it's as if the series has been put out of print : (


  50. jman280292
    Jan 06, 2014 @ 20:35:32

    As a teenager, I read the entire series and was blown away (and slightly disturbed) by the extreme dark nature and sheer depth of the series. I mean ODIN for example, I was so intrigued by it that I became obsessed at what it would look like to the point where i started looking on image search engines to look at artists impressions of it. Around 6/7 years later, you could imagine my surprise when satellite weaponry made its entrance into the latest Call Of Duty title and ODIN made a very dramatic visual appearance. I've tried explaining the significance of this to my friends and 2 brothers but none of them have read the Mortal Engines Quartet so my ramblings fell on deaf ears…


  51. Philip Reeve
    Jan 07, 2014 @ 21:17:10

    I'm sorry if they were disturbing! A number have people have mentioned the new Call of Duty and wondered if their ODIN satellite is a reference to my ODIN satellite – sadly I suspect it's just coincidence. It does look good though, from the screenshots I've seen.


  52. Anonymous
    Mar 22, 2014 @ 20:15:02

    the covers look like they should be for a video game not a book.
    my brother introduced me to the series recently and I fell in love with it!
    Mortal Engines has a better sociopolitical built world then a lot of other young adult dystopia that have been coming out recently.
    It even inspired me to to dress up as a tractionist London historian for costume a party I'm going to.
    Keep up the good work!


  53. Anonymous
    Nov 02, 2014 @ 16:02:18

    My Year 8 boys are troubled too by the Stalker/Shrike images not fitting what they have imagined themselves; they are fascinated by some of the line drawings of traction cities found on the web. They all like the name 'Mortal Engines'. As a department, we very nearly didn't buy the two sets of these we eventually did because we thought the new covers were so trashy. The book itself has gone down a storm so far. I think authors should put their feet down more, as in days gone by. Marketing departments have far too much sway (I say this, too, as a former editor).


  54. Philip Reeve
    Nov 04, 2014 @ 09:56:25

    Thanks, Anon. That very much ties in with my experiences since these covers came out. I've several times been doing a signing where people came hurrying in saying they MUST get a copy of Mortal Engines for their nephew/niece/whatever, only to look at the jacket and decide that maybe they wouldn't bother after all. It's been the most depressing thing that's happened to me in my writing career, and for a while I considered giving up entirely – if Marketing can breeze in and scupper a series you've been working on for ten or twenty years, what's the point? But working with Sarah McIntyre and OUP on our Reeve & McIntyre series has cheered me up no end. And Mortal Engines must be due another re-jacketing soon…


  55. blipblop26
    Oct 16, 2015 @ 13:47:39

    I think the cover makes the book stereotypical as the dark colours show interest for video game and sci-fi passionate boys. The old covers were better as they had more colours and more original designs to encourage girls to pick them up.


  56. Philip Reeve
    Oct 16, 2015 @ 23:12:26

    Hello! I think you’re right. But luckily, this is a post from a few years back, and the old covers have now been restored, so these horrible things will never be seen again!


  57. Astrid
    Jan 05, 2016 @ 13:34:59

    I didn’t see that this was an old post until I read the latest comment! When I googled you it was one of the first hits, very strange. Thank god you’re back to the old covers! They made me imagine the world of mortal engines in a way I have never imagined a book before; I saw everything as if it were an animated film and as if it were made by Studio Ghibli. I don’t know exactly where it came from but I don’t think I would’ve done so if it weren’t for the covers and I think it changed my reading experience entirely and made it one of my favorite book series ever. Because of this I’ve wished for the books to be made into a film by studio Ghibli ever since I first read them! I think it would be such perfect match. If they we’re made into non-animated films I just don’t think they’d capture the same feeling. I really couldn’t imagine them not being animated. Haha. But then I’m sure others could 🙂 (Please sell the movie rights to Studio Ghibli if you haven’t already sold them ;))


    • Philip Reeve
      Jan 06, 2016 @ 08:36:34

      Thanks, Astrid – I’ll add a note at the top of the post, in case other people are confused. Mortal Engines movie rights were sold long ago, and not to an animation company, although when I discovered the Studio Ghibli movies (years after everyone else) I realised that they have a very similar vision. If you haven’t seen it, there’s a beautiful little animation of the first few moments of the story on YouTube, by an animator called Julia Zhuravleva. I blogged about it here:


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