The book is quite serious in tone and deals primarily with the emotional journey of the protagonist, Kaiya, as she comes to terms with life after the liberation of her town from an occupying army at the end of a six-year war. At the beginning of this war her father, who had been Police Commissioner, led a resistance against the invaders, but was betrayed by an officer who, as reward for his betrayal, was made the new Commissioner. Kaiya’s father disappeared, and she comes to know during the book that he was for some time in an enemy POW camp. Half way through the war Kaiya also lost her mother and fiancé, both taken in a town-wide punishment for protests against the brutality of the police force. These losses are the backdrop for the opening of the novel, which occurs very shortly after the war has ended.
Thematically, the book revolves around who is and is not a legitimate arbiter of punishment for prior transgressions, and the way that experiences of trauma can manifest themselves in future violence. A secondary theme also permeates the narrative, that of the rightness or otherwise of using new technology to eliminate bad memories, and the implications of this process on those who are left behind (this is possible in the alternative universe of the book).
Kaiya blames ‘collaborators’ for the war and takes part in two riots calling for the immediate punishment of anyone who aided the enemy or corrupt local police during the war. Vigilante punishments, up to and including hanging, are common, though the most frequently described are the stripping, shaving, and assault of women who slept with enemy soldiers. During the second riot Kaiya beats a man almost to death, which propels her into a restorative justice program and the acknowledgment that the true cause of her anger is her rape at the hands of an allied soldier she had hosted during the war.
While there is a great deal of violence and Kaiya loses both a friend and her recently-returned fiancé throughout the book, she also develops new attachments which give her some image of a bright future, and her outlook changes throughout the book as she comes to accept her circumstances and the need to build a new life.
IMPORTANT: This book is not a war book. While there is violence, this is not what the cover should focus on. The narrative style is 'distant', as though the character's experience of the events is somehow muted. The main character's violent actions are a hard shell to a hurting inside. Further, the character's relationship with police is not simplistic - it is complex. While she protests against them in the book, an old family friend is the new Commissioner, and she becomes close to an officer throughout the story.
The most important and recurring images within the book are (1) lavender and (2) the world as seen through a window. This latter 'image' is reflected in the narrative itself, where (as described above) the character's experiences of events are somewhat deadened. Hangings are also a recurring image. The use of these images is not mandatory. If using such images (either in a literal or abstract form), they should not be really "in your face". This narrative is restrained - it's not (for example) a crime novel.
The cover should not be ‘busy’ with images and events. It could convey a sense of authority, perhaps authority derived from institutions such as courts and the law. This authority, however, should be decaying. There could also be a sense of Kaiya’s desire for an imagined, perfect future and this being inside her and contrasted with the violence and darkness of the current world as she perceives it. The title font (or illustrated title) would be better described as ‘stately’ or ‘looming’ but not ‘lyrical’ or ‘elegant’. Note that in this previous sentence I am addressing only the font of the title, not necessarily the entirety of the cover.
A design that can get these ideas across as minimalistically as possible would be good.
EXTRA NOTE: Regarding the title "And the Righteous Shall Punish". If one is playing with different sizes or positions (or anything that requires that some words will be more important than others), then the word 'Punish' is the most important. Following that very closely in important is 'Righteous'. Shall is much further behind, with 'And the' being the least important. So two lines of text where 'Shall Punish' go on the second line, with 'Shall' being more prominent than 'Righteous' and equally prominent than 'Punish' doesn't focus attention on the most important words in the title.
Print size: 5.25x8