I’ve never read a back cover blurb quite like that one before. It’s intriguing, isn’t it? And confusing, wouldn’t you agree? That seems to be the point.
The story begins with Kit, who happens to run into his great-grandfather Cosimo, who should have been dead years ago, in a back alley in London. He soon discovers he has a gift for travelling between dimensions, realities, whatever you want to call them, using ley lines. Cosimo gives him little enough explanation before sending him home to process this information. Kit returns to his girlfriend, eager to prove he did not make up what just happened to him. He decides to prove it by showing Wilhelmina – and consequently loses her somewhere in space, time, or both.
Stephen Lawhead jumps between storylines like his characters jump between realities. We follow Kit with Cosimo and Kit without Cosimo. We spend time with Wilhelmina in her new reality. We are introduced to Arthur Flinders-Petrie, who mapped skin provides the title of this book. It is rather difficult to keep track of the when of each character’s reality, but it’s surprisingly not difficult to keep track of each character’s story.
The premise of this book really is intriguing, and Lawhead really writes a good book. My only complaint is that this book, the first in the Bright Empires series, seems to be entirely exposition. It’s just the backstory, which could be elaborated in a chapter or two, but instead is filler for an entire novel. There was plenty of action to keep the story going; it just seemed almost superfluous to the real meat of this plot. This novel doesn’t get to the real meat at all. That is saved for future books in the series.
I’m looking forward greatly to reading the remainder of this series, where I hope Lawhead finally lives up to the potential of his premise – omniverse, ley lines, and all.