How about a fun cover microtrend from 2021 YA books? I like to call these microtrends because unlike noticeable, obvious design choices that parallel one another, these only pop up when you really pay attention. They don’t hit a lot of books, but just a few, and yet because it’s such a hyper-specific design aesthetic, it’s noteworthy.
One that I can’t stop thinking about — perhaps because I believe there’s another one of these hiding in plain sight from either 2020 or 2021 or, perhaps, a forthcoming 2022 title — is the YA tarot card book cover.+ I keep thinking the one I can’t remember is this one or this one, but it is neither. Tarot has popped up quite a big in recent YA, but the actual use of tarot cards on the cover hasn’t really come up. But in 2021, I can immediately identify three that do. They each play with tarot cards a bit differently, so let’s take a look.
Book descriptions are from Goodreads. This little roundup makes me want to pull together a whole list of Tarot in YA books.
Maeve’s strangely astute tarot readings make her the talk of the school, until a classmate draws a chilling and unfamiliar card—and then disappears.
After Maeve finds a pack of tarot cards while cleaning out a closet during her in-school suspension, she quickly becomes the most sought-after diviner at St. Bernadette’s Catholic school. But when Maeve’s ex–best friend, Lily, draws an unsettling card called The Housekeeper that Maeve has never seen before, the session devolves into a heated argument that ends with Maeve wishing aloud that Lily would disappear. When Lily isn’t at school the next Monday, Maeve learns her ex-friend has vanished without a trace.
Shunned by her classmates and struggling to preserve a fledgling romance with Lily’s gender-fluid sibling, Roe, Maeve must dig deep into her connection with the cards to search for clues the police cannot find—even if they lead to the terrifying Housekeeper herself. Set in an Irish town where the church’s tight hold has loosened and new freedoms are trying to take root, this sharply contemporary story is witty, gripping, and tinged with mysticism.
Ten years ago, Cat’s volatile mother, Mary, left her at her grandmother’s house with nothing but a deck of tarot cards. Now seventeen, Cat is determined to make her life as different from Mary’s as possible. When Cat’s grandmother dies, she’s forced to move to New Orleans with her mother. There, she discovers a picture of Mary holding a baby that’s not her, leading her to unravel a dark family history and challenge her belief that Mary’s mental health issues are the root of all their problems. But as Cat explores the reasons for her mother’s breakdown, she fears she is experiencing her own. Ever since she arrived in New Orleans, she’s been haunted by strangely familiar visitors–in dreams and on the streets of the French Quarter–who know more than they should. Unsure if she can rebuild her relationship with her mother, Cat is realizing she must confront her past, her future, and herself in the fight to try.
Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.
But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.
While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.
*It bothers me to no end when the publisher does a cover reveal and can’t bother to include this information.
+Update: thanks to Iza G (@izag) on Twitter, the mystery of the missing title is solved!
A modern-day Practical Magic about love, loss, and embracing the mystical.
It’s been one year since Edie’s mother died. But her ghost has never left.
According to her GG, it’s tradition that the dead of the Mitchell family linger with the living. It’s just as much a part of a Mitchell’s life as brewing cordials or talking to plants. But Edie, whose pain over losing her mother is still fresh, has no interest in her family’s legacy as local “witches.”
When her mother’s teenage journal tumbles into her life, her family’s mystical inheritance becomes once and for all too hard to ignore. It takes Edie on a scavenger hunt to find objects that once belonged to her mother, each one imbued with a different memory. Every time she touches one of these talismans, it whisks her to another entry inside the journal—where she watches her teenage mom mourn, love, and hope just as Edie herself is now doing. Maybe, just maybe, Edie hopes, if she finds every one of these objects, she can finally make peace with her loss and put the past to rest for good. But this journey to stake her independence from her family may actually show Edie who she truly is…and the beautiful gifts that come with being just a little different.