Yesterday I wrote about the cool parts of The Skin Map. Ley lines, time travel, other dimensions: all the things that make for a great science fiction. Today I want to explore the Writing Factor of this book.
Stephen Lawhead has been around for a while. He is probably most famous for his fictional work on the Arthurian legend and early Celtic History. His most recent work is a retelling of Robin Hood (I have not yet had the pleasure of reading the series, but it is on my list). All that to say, Stephen is good. Really good. And I found that to be true of The Skin Map.
One way I like to rate books is how fast I want to get back to reading the book again after doing housework or other mundane things in life. Some books can feel like homework (ok, gotta finish the book). Some are somewhat interesting (yeah, the plot is kinda engaging). Some are good (I look forward to reading it some more). And then some make me come up with an excuse why the dishes/laundry/and sometimes kids can wait until the book is done because I have to finish it. The Skin Map fell between good and I have to finish this book.
Why is this? I like to dissect a book and see why I found myself engaged so I can include it in my own writing. One thing that pops out at me about books I find myself loving are the characters. I have to fall in love with at least one character to hook me. If I’m not invested in a character or characters, I will eventually not want to follow the book anymore. Same goes for tv, movies, etc…
The plot was engaging, the descriptions great (Stephen Lawhead includes a lot of food descriptions… I constantly found myself hungry when reading J). But what hooked me was one of the characters: Wilhelmina. Funny enough, the main character was okay (Kit Livingstone). I related to Wilhelmina because she acted like I think any strong willed no nonsense kind of woman would act in her place: scared, but with enough wits to navigate her way in the world and time she found herself in.
I won’t give away any spoilers, but I really enjoyed this book. The Skin Map is fast paced, moving between time and dimensions, but also realistic in how the characters deal with their surroundings and the ley lines. That can be a pet peeve of mine: people who don’t really act surprised when they find themselves in a different time or place.
Stay tuned tomorrow as I explore the Spiritual Factor of The Skin Map.
In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.