The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead
Late for a shopping date with his girlfriend, Wilhelmina, Kit Livingstone is having a bad day. The world itself seems to be conspiring against him. After many failed attempts to take the train, he decides to walk the three miles to his destination. Trying what he hopes to be a shortcut down a narrow alleyway, Kit soon discovers that the alley appears to have no end. As he reverses direction he hears someone calling to him, a strange old man who introduces himself to Kit as Cosimo, his great-grandfather. Thus begins the story of The Skin Map.
Amidst a cast of lively characters a quest takes shape which involves a map that the late Arthur Flinders-Petrie had tattooed across his chest. Kit is drawn into this quest by his long-lost great-grandfather who tells Kit that the map is rumored to contain the secrets to the universe or perhaps something even more significant.
I have been a Lawhead fan for years, ever since I read his Song of Albion Trilogy. While that trilogy remains my favorite, I thought I caught a hint of another good adventure tale in The Skin Map which is the first book in The Bright Empire Series. To be sure the story is engaging and leaves the reader hungry for more. At the same time I was a bit disappointed at the end of this first book because it left me feeling like the story had barely started before it closed suddenly leaving many questions unanswered. I realize that these questions will be answered as the series progresses but books in a series should leave the reader with a definitive ending to that particular segment of the story. At the end of the book I simply felt I had read a lengthy while entertaining introduction to the story.
If you are a Lawhead fan, this book is a must read. If you are new to his works I highly recommend reading either the Song of Albion Trilogy or his excellent stand-alone novel Byzantium first in order to get a true flavor of his story telling skill. Nonetheless, The Skin Map was an entertaining read and I look forward to the second installment of this series.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255