Friday, February 19, 2021

COVER REVEAL: THE NINJA BETRAYED by Tori Eldridge: Sneak Peek into the Symbolic Cover Art for Lily Wong Series, Book 3



Check out that cover! I’m overjoyed with the results and thrilled to share it with you. What better place for a Lily Wong mystery cover reveal than on the fabulous Mystery Readers Blog, Mystery Fanfare? 

As with the other two books in the series, this cover has layers of symbolism in all of its elements. The color, the icons, even the grid, have meaning—sometimes, more than one. The cover makes an initial impact then offers new discoveries as you read the book. 

First, the color. 

Every book in the Lily Wong Series features a bold solid color steeped in symbolism. The yellow cover for The Ninja Daughter and red cover for The Ninja’s Blade spoke to Lily’s (and my) Chinese heritage—firecrackers, red envelopes, yellow gold. The ninja element was represented by the ninja black and gray icons. What color would be right for The Ninja Betrayed

In the third book, Lily and Ma travel to Hong Kong for a surprise board meeting for her grandfather Gung-Gung’s international finance company. When Ma’s L.A. director position is threatened, Lily digs for the truth behind friendly façades of partners, directors, and family. Her Hong Kong vacation quickly devolves into a scorpion’s nest of trouble and shady deals. 

We needed a color that symbolized Lily’s mother, risk, and finance. Lucky jade green fit the bill. 

Like yellow and red, green is a bold color that evokes strong emotions. It’s associated with wealth, luck, danger, and—as the third color in a stop light—action. Although Hong Kong money comes in a variety of colors, green is the color of money in the U.S. 

The shade of green was equally important. Anyone who’s read either of the previous books, knows that Violet Wong wears signature imperial jade jewelry. When I picture Ma, I always see her jade and diamond earrings, ring, and Sì Xiàng bracelet. 

I was so appreciative that the design team at Agora Books were willing to work with me to find the perfect shade of jade. 

Not only did my editor, Chantelle Aimée Osman, ask me for ideas about color and icons, she asked for feedback at every stage of development. I can’t begin to tell you how rare and wonderful this is. Most authors have limited involvement at best. 

“Lily is a duality herself, she is at once a proud product of her heritage, but also an embodiment of the modern evolution of it, and we wanted the covers to embody both of those qualities.” 

My good fortune is not only reflected in lucky colors but lucky numbers, as well. 

The number eight, featured in the grid on all of the Lily Wong covers, is the most auspicious number in China. The Mandarin word for eight is Bā, which sounds similar to the word Fā, the character on the mahjong tile in the upper left quadrant of The Ninja Betrayed. Fā is the first half of the saying, fā cái, which translates to “get rich.” The ink on this mahjong tile is always green to symbolize wealth. In The Ninja’s Blade, the second book in the series, two of those panels are dominated by an awesome Chinese tiger. 

In The Ninja Betrayed, two of the grids are taken over by a line of protesters to signify the pro-democracy struggle in Hong Kong, a major theme in the story. 

In addition to protecting Ma and investigating Gung-Gung’s international finance company, Lily befriends and protects a teenage activist during the height of the 2019 protests. Things get volatile as peaceful demonstrations erupt into violence. 

There’s also a strong romantic component to the story that the cover needed to reflect. As Lily copes with riots, triads, and family strife, her budding romance with Daniel Kwok—there on business—flourishes into the possibility of true love. Chantelle came up with the perfect icon. 

“When Tori pointed out, quite rightly, that we were missing a symbol for the romantic element of the plot—which is stronger in this book than the others, readers can look forward—we immediately landed on the lily. Not only is it, obviously, the name of our protagonist, and a symbol of romance, but it also symbolizes Lily’s finally coming into her own and accepting herself for who she is.” 

The lily flower also symbolizes purity and fertility, fresh life and rebirth. There’s a lot of nuanced meaning to unpack in the presence of that flower and all the other icons on The Ninja Betrayed cover. The only way to discover them is to read the book! 

The Ninja Betrayed releases September 14, 2021 from Agora Books. Pre-Order links can be found at


Lev Raphael said...

It's wonderful to have true cover consultation! I've had that with independent presses, a trade arm of a university press, a boutique press, and a smaller New York house. When it came to the larger, more famous houses like Doubleday, grrr.

Tori Eldridge said...

Yes. I fear I may be spoiled from the start, in the best of cover consultation ways. I've heard that about the big pubs. Fingers crossed and hope for the best. Good to count our blessings when we have them!