Poison Garden Trilogy

Mar 16, 2023

Client: Jennifer Allis Provost
Genre: Urban Fantasy / Dark Fantasy

Fonts: Cinzel Decorative & Cinzel
Stock: Deposit Photos & Envato Elements


My name is Jeremy Flagg, and I am the Cover Villain. I’m here to talk about the concepts behind the cover. Today, we’re going to be talking about the Poison Garden trilogy by Jennifer Allis Provost. We’re going to discuss all three books so we can look at how a trilogy can be broken down into individual books and evolve with the series.

This particular series is going to fall under the realm of fantasy, specifically dark fantasy. So some of the genre tropes that we’re going to be seeing for this cover are going to include darker color themes, a little bit of death and a hint of supernatural without going overboard because the poison takes primary focus of this plot. And because of that, ultimately, Jennifer and I decided to go with a symbol cover instead of characters. This would allow us to feel more ambiance than focusing on individual characters.

The most important element of this book is the poison garden itself. During the design brief, Jennifer made it clear that it was essential that the poison informs the story. So each book is named after a specific poisonous flower oleander. Bleeding hearts in thorn apple. Now, this created some difficulty because right away I knew that the project would require very specific stock photography and photography of flowers is difficult to come by. It gets more challenging during the editing stage because of the transparency aspect of a flower.

Many of the elements are going to remain the same for the sake of branding. The background is cement and I tinted it green so that it has that outdoor feeling reflecting the grass. Since death is a part of the story. The skull fit naturally into the design. And there was originally an idea of putting the skull into the flowers themselves. However, this just look forced and overdesigned. The organic shapes that happen in a flower are all over the place with the vines. There’s no man made shapes. And we wanted a manufactured element to draw the eye to the center. Originally, the mirror was reflecting the flowers, but it turned more into a portal, into a darker space where the flowers can take front and center. The vines coming out help root it to the background. And this helps play with the idea of organic and manufactured light and death.

While this works is a one book concept. How is it going to evolve into books two and three just as much as the story evolves over a trilogy? I want the visual on the cover to do the same. So that actually required me to go back and talk to Jennifer more in depth about her plot and when fire came up. She mentioned the garden in the greenhouse where the garden is being kept will burn down. Okay, well, now I have a story element that translates into a visual.

When I started working on the background, I knew I wanted this idea of old and wanted to progress as the story goes on. For Oleander, I start with the fire bleeding down at the bottom. Since fire plays a role in the book, I wanted to show the progression of time and by book three we have just a wisps of smoke left.

I moved on to bleeding hearts. I started to get the idea of expanding the ivy around the outside, and as it’s going around the mirror, the rust is starting to encroach around the metal. I wanted to show that nature is taking back the manmade elements, and at the same time this allowed me to highlight the individual plants because some of the plants are white, specifically the thorn apple. I decided to go back and make sure the oleander that comes in different colors is also featured in white. Same goes for bleeding hearts. There’s pink. There’s dark reds. But I wanted the white to push forward with this idea of purity. And as the series progresses, the ivy continues to spread. But the bleeding hearts are front and center, and there is a light shining down on them to give them a feeling of etherealness.

From there, I moved on to Thorn Apple. The fire’s gone now. This creates a suggestion that time has passed and the flames have now died. There is a single soft light coming down in the center highlighting the actual flowers of the thorn apple, which aren’t the actual poisonous part. Now, the ivy has completely surrounded the circle and it’s starting to consume it. All that’s really left showing is the skull also long in the background. I wanted a more subtle element behind the focal point. The idea of regrowth occurs on closer inspection and the reader will see more green as the vines are starting to come back to life.

And that is the concept behind the Poison Garden trilogy. This is how Dark Fantasy and a little bit of grit evolves from book one, two and three to create a cohesive cover design

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