The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead

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(Yes, you get a random review from me today… I’ve posted it before on Goodreads but I may start posting older-ish reviews here on occasion. :))


Title: The Skin Map

Author: Stephen R. Lawhead


I’m giving THE SKIN MAP 5 stars . . . with one reservation (which is what this review is for, naturally).

This is going to be just a little bit hard to review. I won this book in a giveaway from Robert Treskillard (a masterful author in his own right), and read it over the course of three days when I was sick, and it helped pass the time marvelously.

For most of the book, THE SKIN MAP was a resounding 5-stars. I enjoyed it so very very much and it was brilliant and unique and fascinating and awesome and funny and perfect.

Then the last 20 pages happened and it almost lost a star or dozen because, well, not to be specific or anything, let’s just say certain authors don’t mind killing characters and I may or may not have gotten really really sad and/or devastated at something that may or may not have happened. Ahem.

That being said, if I’d rated and reviewed THE SKIN MAP the instant I finished it, I probably would have been upset enough it would not have held the 5-star rating it so richly deserves. As it was, I went to bed after finishing it, with a hole in my chest and a determination to never read anything ever again. What can I say. I’m a drama-queen when it comes to books that play with my emotions.

But I let myself cool down, and now I have to say that THE SKIN MAP fully earned every one of those five stars. Again with that one reservation, which naturally only shows how well the book was written that it made me CARE that much. I didn’t like how it was handled, though. But I will say no more because spoilers…

I must say, I was surprised by how much I outright loved THE SKIN MAP when I started it. (And still do, of course!) But from the very beginning it hooked me and drew me in and I found myself thoroughly enjoying myself. So. Much. Enjoyment.

It also felt perfectly British at the beginning there (it went on to feel like other countries too, wherein lies part of its brilliance) and I just found myself loving this story to death.

The characters were so much fun!

  • I love our hero, Kit Livingstone, who had so much humor and normal Britishness.
  • The timeless old fellow Cosimo who I love love love every second of.
  • Arthur Flinders-Petrie himself, who can I just say was positively awesome; though I was a bit confused about his parts of the story and if they were all flashbacks…? But I suppose they were. The nature of time-jumping-ish stories can sometimes get confusing….
  • Wilhelmina surprised me by working her way into my heart. I don’t usually love the heroines of stories that much, but she had such unexpected spunk and determination. I found myself loving the parts with her and Engelbert and their Kaffeehaus the best of any parts of the book — which, again, surprised me, because in a way there wasn’t much going on with them compared with all the action and mystery in the other parts of the story. But the genius of Lawhead seems to be that he can make absolutely anything fascinating.

Following all these characters in all these different times/countries (modern-times, 1600s, and older; England, Prague, Egypt) was so much fun, so interesting, and masterfully handled. There was a particular “feel” to each section which was awesome. So well drawn!

The ley-line travel was fascinating and awesome and I can’t wait to read more about it.

Plus, aren’t those character names just delightful? I love almost everything about this book!

All in all, THE SKIN MAP is a fabulous read, full of mystery, awesome characters, and traveling through different times and localities, all richly painted in a masterful tapestry of ever-turning pages. I couldn’t stop reading, and enjoyed the whole adventure immensely.

Also I just learned that my library has all the sequels in this Bright Empires series, which makes me indescribably happy. I can’t wait to read the rest of these books and fill my life with more Lawhead brilliance.


From Goodreads:

It is the ultimate quest for the ultimate treasure. Chasing a map tattooed on human skin. Across an omniverse of intersecting realities. To unravel the future of the future.

Kit Livingstone’s great-grandfather appears to him in a deserted alley during a tumultuous storm. He reveals an unbelievable story: that the ley lines throughout Britain are not merely the stuff of legend or the weekend hobby of deluded cranks, but pathways to other worlds. To those who know how to use them, they grant the ability to travel the multi-layered universe of which we ordinarily inhabit only a tiny part.

One explorer knew more than most. Braving every danger, he toured both time and space on voyages of heroic discovery. Ever on his guard and fearful of becoming lost in the cosmos, he developed an intricate code–a roadmap of symbols–that he tattooed onto his own body. This Skin Map has since been lost in time. Now the race is on to recover all the pieces and discover its secrets.

But the Skin Map itself is not the ultimate goal. It is merely the beginning of a vast and marvelous quest for a prize beyond imagining.

The Bright Empires series–from acclaimed author Stephen R. Lawhead–is a unique blend of epic treasure hunt, ancient history, alternate realities, cutting-edge physics, philosophy, and mystery. The result is a page-turning adventure like no other.


Genre/Category: Well gee, how am I supposed to answer that? Contemporary / Time Travel / Fantasy/Sci-fi / Historical Fiction…

Age Group: Young Adult

Published: 2010

Pages: 403

Series?: Book 1 in the Bright Empire series. Followed by The Bone House, The Spirit Well, The Shadow Lamp, The Fatal Tree. Series list on Goodreads.

When Read: February 2015

Favorite Character: Cosimo. (Closely followed by Arthur. Also have a soft spot for Kit… And Wilhelmina was awesome, so…)

Source: Won in a giveaway.

Thanks for reading!

Dream away in those pages!

~ The Page Dreamer


33 thoughts on “The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead

  1. Well, hello there book I’ve had on my shelf and have been meaning to read for the longest. I NEED MORE TIME TO READ.

    This book just sounds so up my alley. Time travel and alternate universes and awesome characters and just EVERYTHING. I can’t believe I haven’t read it yet. And wait, it’s YA?? I had in my head Lawhead wrote more adult-type stuff. Now I want to read this even MORE. Your reviews always make me want to read whatever book you’re reviewing so badly! You’re the best reviewer!

    Liked by 1 person

    • YES this series and I think the Dragon King series are YA! I think most of his other stuff is adult yes… but The Skin Map is YA and clean and just all around awesome and totally up your alley! 😀

      And awww you’re the sweetest, thank you! ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was blown away by this book, too. What about the others in the series? Have you read any of them yet? I’m wondering how they stack up to that brilliant beginning. . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Stephen Lawhead is one of my all-time favorite authors! The only book of his I didn’t love was Patrick – mostly because I felt like he crossed the line with the adult content in that one, not because the story wasn’t fascinating, and I understand that it was there to show the contrast of who Patrick was before he became a Christian… but I still didn’t appreciate it. I feel the rest of his books do a fairly good job not crossing that line, even when there are “scenes” that take place – and pretty much always between characters who are married to each other, which bothers me less.

    Thanks for reminding me about the kaffeehaus bits! I remembered enjoying that in a book somewhere, but couldn’t remember which book it was!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I’ve heard that his Patrick book is pretty dark. o.o But he’s such an amazing writer and I sooo need to read more by him! 🙂

      Ooh, yay! Glad I could help with that memory bit… The kaffeehous parts were so awesome. 😀


  4. Oh! So glad you reviewed this book, darling! It has been on my wishlist on ThriftBooks for awhile, but I was still iffy about it. However, now it looks like it’ll be in my next book shipment thanks to you!

    Love and Rich Blessings –

    ~ Aspen

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. Thanks for the simply splendid review! I stumbled across this when hunting for a friend’s blog and was very pleased to see that not only did you like my book, apparently you ‘got’ it — something I am discovering is something of a rarity among readers. I will be quite curious to know what you think of the series as the story progresses.
    Again, thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, thank you so much! I’m delighted to hear you say I “got” it, and honored you should read my little review and tell me what you thought of it! (And you’re so welcome — I’m very glad you liked it.)

      Me and my entire family are all huge fans of your books — I grew up hearing tales of Murdo from the Celtic Crusades read aloud, and reading about Jeremy Vole and company. You’re really a household name around here… so to say my day was made by hearing from you is the understatement of the century!

      I loved The Skin Map and am really looking forward to the rest of the series soon! I’ll definitely be reviewing the next books as well. 🙂


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