Pandemic Picks – Skin
Text Publishing, 2015
Review by Fiona Dorrell, 2020 NT Writers Festival Director
For something compulsively readable and almost entirely escapist, I suggest picking up Australian-author, Ilka Tampke’s historical-fantasy fiction, Skin. Ailia is on a quest to obtain the knowledge that will protect her people in the terrifying Roman invasion they face. But, abandoned at birth and without ‘skin’, she is forbidden to learn.
For the witchy, late-night reading teenager you thought you left firmly (if tragically) in your past, this book will be a happy feast. Ailia, if sometimes love-obsessed and eager-to-please, is ultimately a gutsy heroine on an exhilarating journey to come into her own more-than-human powers. Best of all, she is ruinously ensnared in a lush love-triangle that crosses between real and magical realms.
While being plenty fantastical, the book also raises some big questions. In imagining an animistic and matriarchal Iron Age Britain, and reanimating an old invasion saga, the book asks what gets lost in the violence of colonisation. As an Australian writer, Tampke is perhaps exploring the parallels with Australia’s invasion history and asking how the British came to become colonisers themselves.
If this has you curious, the great news is that there is an equally readable and thought-provoking book two, Songwoman.
Check out our upcoming Online Writing Clinic with Ilka Tampke CLICK HERE