Book Review: Skin by Ilka Tampke

I reviewed this book as part of the Lovereading review panel.

skin1Southwest Britain, AD 43.

For the people of Caer Cad, ‘skin’ is their totem, their greeting, their ancestors, their land.

Ailia does not have skin. Abandoned at birth, she serves the Tribequeen of her township. Ailia is not permitted to marry, excluded from tribal ceremonies and, most devastatingly, forbidden to learn. But the Mothers, the tribal ancestors, have chosen her for another path.

Lured by the beautiful and enigmatic Taliesin, Ailia embarks on an unsanctioned journey to attain the knowledge that will protect her people from the most terrifying invaders they have ever faced.

Set in Iron-Age Britain on the cusp of Roman invasion, Skin is a thrilling, full-blooded, mesmerising novel about the collision of two worlds, and a young woman torn between two men.

Wow. It’s not often that I’m lost for words, but with this book, it’s hard not to be. I devoured Skin within hours, sneaking chapters between meals and forsaking other things just to get a little bit more.

Tampke writes with confidence; her prose is beautiful, her story compelling. Alilia, our skinless protagonist, is a mixture of all things that make us human – doubt, despair, desire to learn – and I loved her utterly from the first page. The mystical setting of Iron Age Britain is wonderful, full of magic and wonder and beauty. It’s everything I love in a historical fiction. And it’s set in the south west, a place I will always call home.

Not that this is an award you’d put on your mantelpiece, but I do believe that Skin is my book of the year. Sequel, please!

Skin by Ilka Tampke will be released in August, and will be available from Lovereading.co.uk, the UK’s No 1 book recommendation site.

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