Reviewed by C.J. Darlington
The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead
"Holding just enough clues close to his vest without frustrating the reader, Lawhead has penned an exhilarating start to an exciting new series. "
Sci-fi or fantasy? Adventure or suspense? The Skin Map is one of those special books that crosses genres. In a way, it’s all of the above, which makes for a delightful reading stew. A novel that’s been cooking in Stephen Lawhead’s mind for over fifteen years, it was well worth the wait. Chapter One wastes no time in introducing us to main character Kit Livingstone, a man living a mundane existence who in the span of a few minutes finds himself embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. Make that multiple lifetimes. And dimensions. And countries.
From the moment he meets his long dead great-grandfather Cosimo (clearly alive and well) in a strange London alley, Kit is thrust into a web of intrigue that sets his mind spinning. Apparently Cosimo has discovered a way to travel through space, time, and alternate universes using ley lines, forces of energy that are intersections between worlds. But there are enemies of Cosimo and his cause that are bent on bringing him and his fellow Questors to ruin. All because one brave traveler tattooed on his body a map of these ley lines for future adventurers. It’s this skin map everyone’s after (yes, it was made from his skin after he died), and it’s what Kit and Cosimo must find at all costs.
Mix in a detailed sub plot featuring Kit’s girlfriend Wilhelmina who accidentally lands in 17th Century Austria, and there’s something in The Skin Map for just about everyone. The adventure elements draw comparisons to Matt Bronleewe’s August Adams series, minus the rare books. Aside from a few British swear words, Lawhead keeps things clean and in the vein of the great books and movies of yesteryear. Think National Treasure with a lot more depth and even some philosophical references to ponder.
Some Lawhead fans could
find themselves missing his straight fantasy since the fantastical elements
are limited to time travel, but I recommend having
a little faith in Mr. Lawhead to spin a yarn worth reading no matter the
genre. For those who enjoy tales of intrigue and who wonder how much changing
the past can affect the future (a literal grandfather paradox in this book!),
there’s much to enjoy. Holding just enough clues close to his vest
without frustrating the reader, Lawhead has penned an exhilarating start
exciting new series.
C.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.
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