Review & Giveaway: The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead

March 9, 2011 Giveaways, Review 33


The Skin Map (Bright Empires Series) Title: The Skin Map
Author: Stephen R. Lawhead
Series: Bright Empires #1
Cover Art: N/A
Genre: Fantasy
Source:  Publisher
Reviewed by: Julia

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson, Aug. 31, 2010
  • ISBN-10: 1595548041
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595548047
The Book Depository

  Sexual Content:

My Rating:

Okay – Somewhat disappointing with significant flaws. Library/swap/borrow if you want.


“He had a sensation of being told a secret he knew to be true, but which would be far, far easier–and much safer–to ignore; all the more so since he strongly suspected that acknowledging the truth meant his life would change utterly.”

Kit Livingstone’s great-grandfather has re-appeared with an unbelievable story–the ley lines throughout Britain are not merely the stuff of legends but truly are pathways to other worlds. So few people know how to use them, though, that doing so is fraught with danger.

But one explorer knew more than most. Because of his fear of being unable to find his way home, he developed an intricate code and tattooed his map onto his skin. But the map has since been lost and rival factions are in desperate competition to recover it. What none of them yet realize is that the skin map itself is not the prize at the end of this race . . . but merely the first goal of a vast and marvelous quest to regain Paradise.

Enter the ultimate treasure hunt–with a map made of skin, a playing field of alternate realities, and a prize that is the greatest mystery of all.


THE SKIN MAP opens with light humor and mysterious promises.  Kit Livingstone embarks on inter-dimensional, inter-generational exploration in the same spirit Arthur Dent grabbed a towel and hitchhiked his way through the galaxy: hapless, unintentional adventure.  Whereas Dent remained the star of his series, Kit was soon eclipsed by supporting characters: the villain, Kit’s ex-girlfriend (Wilhelmina), and even the man you know will eventually be skinned for a map. 

As his characters are turned head over tail, Lawhead’s writing structure mirrors the physics of the world he created.  Just as realities nest together like soap bubbles, embodying every time period and possibility a traveler could imagine, so to do THE SKIN MAP’s chapters.  I never knew from chapter to chapter what perspective or time period I’d find.  Unfortunately, despite my fascination with the world building, I finished the last page of THE SKIN MAP more confused than ever. 

Above and beyond the physical structure, the writing style of this book presents flat characters and events with minimal detail or development.  The interweaving chapters could have provided that critical third dimension, but never came together in any meaningful way.  The majority of the soap bubble chapters in THE SKIN MAP seemed best popped and forgotten, filled with dangling details and characters that were never resolved or utilized. 

Despite Wilhelmina’s initial introduction as a sarcastic harpy (who inspired Kit to think that “he simply had to get a better girlfriend at the first opportunity”), it was only the glimpses of her budding Kaffeehaus empire that drew me through the bulk of this book.  If book two of the Bright Empires series, THE BONE HOUSE, promises to feature Wilhelmina more prominently, and pick up the dangling details leftover from THE SKIN MAP, I may be persuaded to continue reading.


Previous Books in Series
Also Reviewed By:
  1. N/A

Giveaway courtesy of Thomas Nelson

Two (2) winners will each receive a copy of THE SKIN MAP

Giveaway Guidelines

  1. Open to US only
  2. Leave a comment & a way to contact you if you win
  3. Entries must be received by Midnight MST on March 16th.

Interested in offering a giveaway on All Things Urban Fantasy? CONTACT ME

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33 Responses to “Review & Giveaway: The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead”

  1. Katie

    Wow! That is one hell of a cover. Too bad the story doesn't live up to it.

    bigferret at email dot com

  2. Tori

    I love the title and cover. Hate that it's confusing. I may give it a try though.

  3. lulilut

    This sounds creepy but your review makes it seem fun.

    Thanks for the giveaway.
    d.septer at

  4. Vickie

    Stephen Lawhead is one of my favorite authors. I have a collection of his Arthurian legend series on the keeper shelf.

    VWinship at aol dot com

  5. Melanie L

    I think this sounds pretty interesting. I would like to give it a try. Thanks for the giveaway.


  6. Stephanie M. Lorée

    The premise looks incredibly interesting, and I love the trailer. I'm more intrigued by live actors and get tired of seeing the same stills + text with cheesy music, so I much enjoyed the trailer.

    stephanie AT stephaniemloree DOT com

  7. Allison

    I loved this book! would love to own a copy.
    allisonvq at comcast dot net

  8. Wenj

    Hm. Never read Lawhead before, but this sounds really good! 🙂 Would love to read it.



  9. Elena

    The book sounds very interesting and intriguing to me!

  10. Julia

    Thanks for all the entries, I'll head over to to pick winners and post them tonight!