Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #1: The Covers

Most of us read the Scholastic “regular” edition that featured Harry and Lord Voldemort on the cover. It seems that the artist, for her own reasons or under instructions, decided not to present an event from the book (she had said in more than one interview that the curtains were to make a bookends set with her first book cover that also featured them). In contrast, the Bloomsbury front cover (children’s edition) seemed to be a dramatic rendering of the escape from the Lestrange bank vault within Gringotts. The spine, too, had the Deathly Hallows tri-gram, the back cover Hogwarts on ice (?), and a Stag Patronus on the inside front flap. As much as I enjoyed the Scholastic cover, I wonder why the artist didn’t choose any of the exciting moments from the book for the finale front. What are your thoughts on the GrandPre cover after finishing the series finish?


  1. Travis Prinzi says

    The US art depicts the final battle, in the Great Hall, orange sky for the sunrise, Voldemort falling backwards, Harry reaching up to grab the Elder Wand. The only error is that there’s no wand in Harry’s right hand.

  2. Yes, I agree.

    The bang was like a cannon blast, and the golden flames thaterupted between them, at the dead center of the circle they had been trading, marked the point where the spells collided. Harry saw Voldemort’s green jet meet his own spell, saw the Elder Wand fly high, dark against the sunrise, spinning acorss the enchanted ceiling like the head of nagini, spinning through the air toward the master it would not kill, who had come to take full possession of it at last. And Harry, with the the unerring skill of the Seeker, caught the wand in his free hand as Voldemort fell backward, arms splayed, the slip of pupils of the scarlet eyes rolling upward.

    I believe it is this moment that is on the cover of the US edition. It is very likely that the wand is not in Harry’s hand because it’s not his own wand (which was broken), but Draco’s wand and that would have given away an important plot piece. Voldemort, of course, in this moment has lost the Elder Wand and it is just out of sight of the scene – Harry is looking up at the Elder Wand as it comes to him. But Draco’s wand should be in his other hand and if it was shown, it may have appeared – to eagle eyed fans – not to be his own wand.


  3. It’s all artistic license. The other covers have had other things things that made no real sense. But it’s all for effect. It is miss leading, but hey. Things happen.

  4. I too thought that the US cover was the final battle.

  5. ZoeRose has nailed the cover. I’ve always enjoyed going back and analyzing it after the book is read once or twice. Spot on, ZR!!!

  6. sibelius says

    Yep, ZoeRose has it right… it’s the final battle, nicely drawn, minus Harry’s wand which enabled Mary GrandPré to give us the moment we had all been waiting for without anyone figuring out she had done it – even after they had read the book in some cases, it seems. She must be grinning today.

  7. I have several issues with that cover. First, it does give away the finale. And second, the people standing in the background seem hooded, shadowy, unearthly, whereas in fact they are just ordinary wizarding folk from this side of the veil.

    On the other hand, it doesn’t mean much unless you know the finale. And if the watchers had been depicted too clearly, we would have known what was up.

    I’m not much into cover art anyways, and much prefer the UK adult version featuring Slytherin’s locket.

  8. It was the finale ending with the roof blown off revealing the sky, and I was right all along in saying it was outside. I guess we did not get the literal going beyond the veil, did we?

  9. Did the roof of the Great Hall get blown off? The book says ‘enchanted sky’ [US Edition page 743], so I think it is the sky magically shown on the ceiling.

  10. While the final faceoff is the best candidate that we’ve heard, I’m still dubious because of the apparent “ampitheatre” setting that the cover art depicts. The Great Hall isn’t at all like that.
    The notion that “if we depict it as it really is, it gives too much away, so we’ll depict it as it isn’t” just seems to break too many basic rules, it seems.

  11. Arabella Figg says

    When I initially studied the cover, I thought the Great Fight might be taking place in possibly the quidditch field or something like that What a surprise to find out it was in the Great Hall, sort of fish-eye distorted.

    I think the artist did a terrific job in luring us with mystery (rendering) without revealing specifics (photographc). My hat’s off to her for not giving it away.

    Kitties, etc.

  12. chrystyan says

    I loved the GrandPre cover as Harry’s gaze towards heaven depicted the spiritual side to the story. We now know that it is not the locket hanging around Harry’s neck (as some might have believed), but Hagrid’s pouch birthday gift containing everything important to Harry on the terrestrial side. (Wish I had so few!) I further am grateful that the wands were not depicted as the gaze heavenward and his outstretched arms were more meaningful (to me). I believe the story hinged on the scriptures on the tombs: Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. Hopefully, people who enjoy discussions on the Harry books will read the entire chapters where these verses are found: I Corinthians 15 and Matthew 6. Attending to the position of the sun in the entire series is important (as the cover art demonstrates).

  13. NancyChennai says

    I guess it isn’t possible that the cover refers to Harry’s first battle with Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest. It doesn’t account for the Colosseum-like surroundings, what look like broken ceiling beams, and the color of the sky. Although it does support the Death Eaters watching and at least Harry’s wandlessness. However Harry’s posture seems a bit aggressive for the mood of martyrdom. Why are Voldemort and Harry turned away from each other? In the final duel their eyes are locked onto each other. Could this be another argument for a forest duel in that it suggests the time when both Voldemort and Harry are knocked out?

    I appreciate the comment (can’t find it now) about the importance of the sky throughout the book:it’s red-gold significance. IIRC, the forest duel was the darkness before the dawn.

  14. The final battle is inside Hogwarts. The shadowy, blurred faces refers to Harry’s view as he’s circling around with Voldemort, the faces outside of the circle a blur. The distortion of the scene, the fish-eye view, also reflects the way Voldemort and Harry were circling each other. The enchanted sky would reflect the sky outside, which was casting golden light on the two figures. I was kind of disappointed when I first saw the cover, but having read book 7, I think it’s brilliant.

  15. Jayne1955 says

    I like the covers and the art. I always have. But I never try to look for clues in them.

  16. esoterica1693 says

    We know that GranPre said she did the curtain as a mirror of book 1. If you look at her cover for SS, I think it’s more than the curtains that she’s mirroring. The basic angle of Harry’s arm is the same, in both cases he’s reaching for something, looking over his shoulder. Perhaps it is this subtle mirroring of SS that influences the stadium-like appearance of the Great Hall. In Bk 1 he’s reaching for the Snitch; in Bk 7 he’s recently opened the (exact same) Snitch which ‘opens at the close’ and has thought of ‘catching the snitch’ as a metaphor for finishing his journey.

    Comparing and contrasting the two covers tells us so much about how the story and Harry have journeyed over 7 yrs. The cover does a good job of reflecting the chiastic structure of the series. In Bk 1 he’s very childlike, playing a mere game, even if physical and dangerous, a game which is his first taste of success and inclusion in this odd wizarding world he’s just joined. In Bk 7 he is a mature young man at the crucial point in a duel which will determine his life and the fate of the wizarding world. In Bk 1 the outstretched arm is merely a function of the Quidditch game, his Seeking. In Bk 7 it makes his body take the form of a cross. In Bk 1 the signs of evil are subtle and small–Fluffy, and maybe some dementors in the far distance. In Bk 7 he’s F2F with Evil. In Bk 1 he’s grasping for a snitch which is a mere game piece. In Bk 7 he’s grasping for the Elder Wand which makes him the uniter of the Deathly Hallows and master of Death.

    I initially ordered a Deluxe Edition, but then after reading the book went out and bought a regular edition too, b/c I like its cover art much better–I find it a much better icon for the book and the conclusion of the series.

  17. bethwilson says

    It seems to be a complete for the UK adult edition. My cover is a photograph type dark cover of the locket. Which seems brilliant as it doesn’t give away anything about the plot yet is exciting for those about to read it remembering what happened in HBP.

  18. I am so glad that the Christian ending and theme that is running through all of the books came to light. As well as my prediction that the cover is Harry in the Christ pose looking up, very saint-like. I am so happy that I was right. Unbelievable that in our time we would see a popular book, show such an old, wonderful story and meaning. Amazing!!!

  19. I think the final cover has a dual meaning:
    1. I do think it alludes to the final battle. I think the curtains both offer the book ends to the series, but also point to how either Harry or Voldemort will travel through said curtains.

    2. The second meaning– Harry is simply waving goodbye. 🙁 *sniff*

  20. Reyhan: “I’m not much into cover art anyways, and much prefer the UK adult version featuring Slytherin’s locket.” (

    Me too! In the 1980s, publisher Collins (now Harper Collins) couldn’t understand why their Agatha Christie sales were sluggish. Focus groups revealed that the gory scenes depicted on the covers made the books appear to be trashy novels. New designs were developed even while the research continued, and bloodied corpses were replaced with a singel icon, eg: a pair of broken spectacles or a rose bud. Sales soared.

    Having said that, I approve of the bright and lively children’s edition cover depicting the raid on Gringotts ( – not that the book needed any help from its cover!

    However, when I first saw the American edition cover ( I didn’t recognise it as the Great Hall, and wondered whether they were in some vast amphitheatre somewhere as yet unmentioned, so full marks from me for misdirection, and none for realism!

    I’ve provided image link urls in case anyone isn’t familiar with the covers mentioned.

  21. As an Art Historian, I must redirect your attention to the Christian meaning of the U.S. cover. He is in the Christ pose and the look on his face is that of spiritual ecstasy. This is so obvious if you study Christian, European art. It is so widely used. It also is a Saint pose, as attributed to their holy role in the bible and Christian history. It is no accident that this pose was chosen for book 7, especially since we now know the true Christian story that has been interwoven into her books. It is not necessary to have to know of the Great Hall, just that Harry has offered sacrifice of himself to save many people. That is a Christian quality to Christ and to the Saints.

    To see my visual example of paintings with this theme, go back to the cover art section on this site before the book was published, maybe the March archive, I am not sure.

  22. Arabella Figg says

    I still prefer the GrandPre cover, for the reasons listed above. I love the alchemical colors, the design, the spiritual implications and the idea of the curtains “opening” and “closing” the play, agreeing with perpetualnovice’s point that “the curtains…also point to how either Harry or Voldemort will travel through said curtains.” And I love how the cover spine looks so beautiful and happy at the end of the darker-colored tomes on our shelf.

    I find the Gringott’s cover rather gaudy and the Slytherin locket elegant, but the book isn’t about either–it’s about the showdown between Harry and Voldemort.

    House Cup for Grandpre. She featured the most exciting event of all.

    Hairy Plotter is about to have a showdown with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Tamed…

  23. IMournForTonks says

    I always loved the colors of the GrandPre cover, from the first time I saw the preview. And I still have the cover as my desktop because I’m so inspired by the look on Harry’s face. I see such remarkable, confident determination…what I really see is Faith, Hope, and Love.

  24. I never liked anything about GrandPre’s work, and I still don’t. This was absolutely the wrong scene to put on the cover; if readers understood it, it would give the entire story away, and if they didn’t (far more likely), it would only be confusing. And after finishing the novel, the reader would realize the extreme inaccuracy of the picture.

    I very much prefer the UK adult cover.

Speak Your Mind