I was super surprised to discover I’d never actually done a list for this topic before? And since That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday is having a free topic, now is a great time to remedy that. Including all of the covers would defeat the purpose of having the titles stand on their own, so this post will have to do without.
Titles can do a lot to pique our interest, but it is genuinely hard to pull off even when the author/marketing team wants to–because often it’s more important to have the title match the genre and brand. I find that very few titles stick out. These are the ones that really impressed me (please note that I haven’t read all of them yet):
Dead Witch Walking
Did I say that authors have to choose between cool titles and branding? Because here’s Kim Harrison, proving that’s not always the case. This is still the greatest urban fantasy title I’ve ever come across even over a decade post-publication.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Possibly the gold standard when it comes to comedic sci-fi titles.
Winter Be My Shield
Do I have any idea what the title means? No. Does it sound awesome and unique? Oh yeah. This book made it onto my TBR pile on the strength of that title alone.
This one caught my attention immediately–it’s the contrast between the two words, where vengeance is such a sharp/visceral feeling, but ‘road’ implies a long steady patient journey.
A Feast for Crows
The imagery of this one has always stuck with me.
Once Broken Faith
Seanan McGuire’s extensive bibliography is a treasure trove of amazing titles, and I honestly couldn’t pick just one. From the Shakespearean-influenced titles of her Toby series like “Once Broken Faith” and “The Winter Long”, from portal fantasies like “Every Heart a Doorway”, to tongue-in-cheek short story titles like “Please Accept My Most Profound Apologies For What Is About To Happen (But You Started It)”–she’s really good at this. And she’s really good at making both evocative and genre-fitting titles.
As far as names go, this one even manages to evoke a history within the story. It’ll always be one of the first titles I think of.
Yes, I’m going to count graphic novels on this list, if only so I can include this title. It’s different, but it also manages to hint at the story’s tone with both the unusual structure and use of the word “Freak”.
Last Song Before Night
It’s the feeling evoked by this title–that sense of an ending–that makes it stand out to me. There are a few different strategies at play all over this list. This one isn’t common, and I think that’s because it’s a hard one to pull off.
The Immortal Rules
I’m actually impressed by how much information is conveyed in this title? The mention of ‘rules’ alone implies a community with a code of behavior, and the immortal aspect adds a sense of powerful entities who need to restrain themselves. To me, the title practically screams vampires, though of course it didn’t have to be vampires–this could’ve been a much more second world fantasy kind of story. Moreover, to me, this title says ‘atypical vampire story’, which makes it stand out amongst quintessential urban fantasy titles (of course, it is a YA story, so…).
That’s my list, and how those titles came off to me. But people are different, and those titles can hit others in a different way. I’d be super interested in knowing if those titles created different expectations for anyone else. Or if there’s a favorite title anyone else found really compelling.