Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead

As I mentioned in passing the other day, as part of the CSFF Blog Tour I was lucky enough to receive a free review copy of this book from the publisher, Thomas Nelson.

Which of course means that rarest of events: I will be reviewing the book during the tour!

I already mentioned that some of the plot devices and settings were (almost literally) right up my street, and if you throw in the opening line:
Had he but known that before the day was over he would discover the hidden dimensions of the universe, Kit might have been better prepared. At least, he would have brought an umbrella.
A great opening line for sure, but did it continue in a similar vein? Well, for the most part, yes. The story is a cocktail of historical, adventure, science fiction and fantasy. It tells the story of Kit Livingstone, who finds himself suddenly thrust into the family business of travelling across time and between parallel Earths by way of the extensive ley-line network, the only map of which known to exist was tattooed on the back of an earlier ley-traveller.

It also tells the story of Kit’s girlfriend, Mina, who follows him only to end up in Prague and invent Starbucks; I found these bits a little tedious at times, but Kit’s efforts to track her down (which soon got sidetracked by the efforts to track the Skin Map down) were fun enough to make up for it.

I have to admit that when Cosimo first appeared, I was reminded of something from a Thursday Next novel but without the jokes; and as for the whole ley-travelling thing, I wonder if Mr Lawhead has seen Jumper? They even have the same secret hideout near the Egyptian pyramids.

None of which detracts from what is, overall, a great story told well, with the possible exception of the slightly out of place ending. Neat twist, or deus ex machina? I’m not sure, but I’m willing to wait for volume two to get it explained to my satisfaction.

On the plus side, the info-dumps, such as they are, fit nicely into the story thanks to Kit’s utter ignorance of what is going on; and for all the time and dimension hopping and multiple viewpoint characters, the story was not hard to keep track of.

Definitely worth a read if you like historical fiction, adventure stories, time travel, or just Stephen Lawhead.

More blogging about The Skin Map here:
Red Bissell Thomas Clayton Booher Keanan Brand Grace Bridges Beckie Burnham Morgan L. Busse Jeff Chapman Christian Fiction Book Reviews Valerie Comer Karri Compton Amy Cruson CSFF Blog Tour Stacey Dale D. G. D. Davidson George Duncan April Erwin Tori Greene Ryan Heart Bruce Hennigan Timothy Hicks Christopher Hopper Becky Jesse Cris Jesse Becca Johnson Jason Joyner Julie Carol Keen Krystine Kercher Shannon McDermott Allen McGraw Matt Mikalatos Rebecca LuElla Miller Nissa John W. Otte Gavin Patchett Sarah Sawyer Chawna Schroeder Kathleen Smith Rachel Starr Thomson Donna Swanson Robert Treskillard Steve Trower Fred Warren Dona Watson Phyllis Wheeler Nicole White Elizabeth Williams Dave Wilson


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

What an excellent review. I really am glad you could participate in this one from the position of a reader. You're much more knowledgeable on the science fiction side of things, so you saw stuff I didn't.

I'm also glad you gave us another rendition of Tuesday Tunes. What would a CSFF tour be without it? ;-)

Jason said...


Whoo-hoo! An actual review. I'm always happy to see you post and participate "across the pond", and I'm really glad to see your thoughtful review this time. Keep up the good work (and the playlist).