Kit Livingston isn’t really much of an adventurer—of any sort. He seems rather content in London, and the relationship with his girlfriend, Wilhemina, is flat lining. Though life seems a bit droll at times, he’s also not too eager to change. Of course, discovering that your great-grandfather Cosimo, long thought dead, is alive and a worldwide traveler adds a bit of spice to life that Kit wasn’t asking for. To top it off, he discovers that the traveling Cosimo does is not only geographical, but also through time. Cosimo belongs to a small group aware of ley lines (which act as pathways to parallel universes) and is in search of the Skin Map, a map which shows many of the ley lines. Unfortunately for them, others with more devious plans are also in search with the map.
While reading The Skin Map, I felt that it most closely resembled The Paradise War, one of my favorite Lawhead books in that Kit and Lewis are very similar characters. They start out very passive, but are dragged to another world where they must learn to adapt and fight some force of evil. However, I felt like Lewis is the stronger character between them. Though Lewis started out passive, he quickly grew into a very active and strong character. I felt like Kit stayed passive for much of the story, merely reacting to situations as they came around. I also found many of his scenes to be the most uninteresting.
To my surprise, my favorite story thread was Wilhemina’s. After an attempt to travel through a ley line goes wrong, Wilhemina is left stranded in a world set hundreds of years in the past. Determined to do something productive, she teams with an aspiring baker and starts a bakery. Though the description sounds rather boring, I really enjoyed the story elements. I think a large part of that is because Wilhemina is such an active character. Unlike Kit, she actually has a backbone and tries to act instead of react. The only part I didn’t like about her story thread is when she is first separated. Though initially mad at Kit, she grows used to the world extremely quickly. It seems like she quickly forgets Kit and forgets that she came from a life with computers and electricity and still manages to help start and run a successful bakery. Though enjoyable it was extremely unrealistic.
Still, The Skin Map does present an intriguing story. Many of the supporting characters are fairly flat and cliché, but there were enough twists and turns, and some big surprises at the end which kept me reading. Though this is far from Lawhead’s best work it is also not terrible, and I can see how the sequel’s may progress the story.