Book Review: Skin

Thursday 21 May 2015 by

Skin, Book, Ilka Tampke, Hodder & StoughtonSkin by Ilka Tampke

Published by Hodder & Stoughton

Publishing August 2015

Skin was gifted from mother to child by a song. I had no mother. I had no skin.

I was half-born, born in body but not in soul. Born to the world but not to the tribe.

When Fraid gave me my freedom, I would find my family. I did not know how, but there would be a way. I would find my birthplace, my kin and my skinsong.

Then I would be born.


I was overjoyed to get a copy of Skin for review. Ever since spotting it on Twitter, I knew I had to get my hands on it.

Skin tells the story of Ailia, partial outcast from her tribe, and her discovery of herself.  Set in pre-Roman Britain in a Celtic tribe, the people are deeply spiritual and traditional, and Ailia has no place in it. But all that is about to change, as Ailia begins to step in to the magical realms of the journeymen and -women (otherwise known as druids).

But her learning comes at great cost, as she soon discovers, in life and love. And Ailia has to make hard choices.

I was swept up in this story completely. It utterly consumed me and I loved every second of it. Ailia is a fantastic protagonist, in a female-dominated world that feels wholesome and true. Even the more magical elements don’t feel forced. It’s an adventure story at its heart – the first in a series – and its pacing is fast and fierce, leaving you breathless at the end of each chapter.

Of course, there are times that feel forced: Heka is a hard character to fathom and her anger feels unnatural and overwrought. But Ailia seems to smooth through the story, making it easy.

This is a first novel – and the first in the series at that – so there are moments when the thread hangs unfinished. It can be frustrating and bewildering but it also tempts you further in to the story, searching for the conclusion. It is the beginning of a fantastic series – could the Celtic era be the next hit? And I’m desperate for the next bit.

This book brims with magic and promise, and it is a joy to read.

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