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Abs In, Stilettos Out: Fantasy Heroine Cover Art Trends

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Orbit Books released its annual “survey of cover art elements for the top fantasy novels published in the previous year,” counting more than 70 “bad ass women” in the chart embedded above–an inspiring batch of new heroines appeared in 2009.

Here’s an excerpt from Trends in Fantasy Cover Art: “Abs are in: Fantasy’s heroines are spending less time at the tattoo parlor and more time at the gym, as toned midriffs overtook tattoos as the favored accessory … Stilettos are out: We observed a steep decline in stilettos in 2009, which just proves that fantasy readers can suspend their disbelief only so far.”

Yesterday we reported that swords dominated fantasy cover art for the second year in a row. Despite the proliferation of sword covers, the pointy symbols appeared on 20 percent less covers than last year–a dramatic reduction in an infamous cliché. The chart also measured three rapidly growing new trends: “fog/mist/smoke” and “damsels” and “headshots.”

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