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(Skin #1)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  972 ratings  ·  207 reviews
Southwest Britain, AD 43.

For the people of Caer Cad, ‘skin’ is their totem, their greeting, their ancestors, their land.

Ailia does not have skin. Abandoned at birth, she serves the Tribequeen of her township. Ailia is not permitted to marry, excluded from tribal ceremonies and, most devastatingly, forbidden to learn. But the Mothers, the tribal ancestors, have chosen her f
Paperback, 356 pages
Published February 25th 2015 by Text Publishing
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Average rating 3.73  · 
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 ·  972 ratings  ·  207 reviews

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Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
“He was as dazzling and unfathomable as the night sky: in equal measure splendid and despondent, vital and injured, tender and cruel. He had an Elder’s wisdom, yet the wariness of a child, and in the force of these splits, the whole earth turned within his sprawling frame”

Skin is the first novel by Australian author, Ilka Tampke, and the first book of a two-book series. Iron Age Britain, soon to be invaded by the Roman legions, is where fourteen-year-old Ailia works in the kitchens of the Tribeq
Oct 17, 2015 rated it liked it
I was kindly sent a free arc of this book in exchange for an honest review :) I also read this book as part of the Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon which was rather exciting and as a readathon book this worked very well because it's fun and fast paced and it's told in 1st person so it's quick to get into. This is the story of an ancient british tribe and the ideals, prophecies, magic and customs they hold dear to them with a particular focus on our main character, Ailia.

What I found whilst reading this
Christine Spoors
I had high expectations going into this book, and I was not disappointed! It follows Ailia, a girl without 'skin' in 43 AD Celtic Britain. In this book a person's Skin is like a totem which they have depending on what their family has, for example a dog or a salmon. No one know's who Ailia's parents are and so she is without skin, and so not allowed to be educated or marry.

I really loved the way Tampke wove this idea of 'skin' into her version of these ancient Celtic tribes, weaving in magic and
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Isabelle Carmody, an author I've read since I was in my very early teens, describes this book on the back cover as being a book about yearning. In just a few words Carmody captures the soul of this book.

Ailia is without skin , or in terms perhaps more understandable to contemporary readers, her parentage is not known. Whilst Ailia was adopted, and loved, by the cook at Caer Cad she was not able to participate fully in society due to her lack of skin. Ailia was unable to be taught skills learnt
Feb 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
‘Skin’ is the debut historical fiction/fantasy novel from Australian author (and member of my wonderful writer’s group) Ilka Tampke.

The book is set in AD 43 (Iron Age Britain), and our narrator is ‘skinless’ Ailia of Cad who was found by Cookmother on the doorstep of the Tribequeen. She is raised in the kitchens, and taught the art of healing by Cookmother, but still Ailia longs for what she cannot have and will not be without skin – a journeywoman.

Born to the skinless, or lost to their familie
Mel Campbell
I devoured this book in one epic reading session that went from about 10pm to 3:30am. I thought I'd stop maybe halfway through but I just kept reading. At first I found the language a little self-consciously florid and weird, as if that's what's 'expected' in fantasy, but ultimately it was utterly beguiling: basically it lulled me into the same credulous, visceral kind of reading I used to do when I was a tween and early teen. And although this is a story for adults, it's got much the same 'hero ...more
Nick Reeve
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
'Skin' is a beautifully crafted story that resonated deeply within me. Ilka has created the notion that 'skin' is identity, and consequently the novel pursues the importance to understand and uphold this.

The setting for Skin is SW England AD 43-47, time of the Roman invasion. The journey of central character Ailia, a tribesperson of Albion (Ancient Britain), leads the reader through this adventure. Real locations and historical timelines are set against a fantastic mystical dimension, with a no
I received a free copy of this book from Hodder in exchange for an honest review.

Ailia is a young woman growing up in a tribe in Celtic Britain. Her tribe believe in something called Skin which is something yu are given and taught by your mother from birth but Ailia was abandoned by her mother as a newborn and is skinless. As Ailia tries to figure out who she is, she learns that the higher powers may have something in store for her as the Roman Empire marches ever closer.

I really, really enjoyed
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It takes you into the world of ancient Britain where women are powerful and Goddesses are worshipped. It creates a vivid picture of life in a Celtic tribe - one that is on the cusp of being invaded by the Romans. But it also takes you journeying to places that have become lost to us now... Skin is beautifully written, fascinating, and above all a rip-roaring good read. And while it is definitely one for the women, my husband is reading it now and also can't put it down!
Feb 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘Skin’ is the debut historical fiction/fantasy novel from Australian author (and member of my wonderful writer’s group) Ilka Tampke.

The book is set in AD 43 (Iron Age Britain), and our narrator is ‘skinless’ Ailia of Cad who was found by Cookmother on the doorstep of the Tribequeen. She is raised in the kitchens, and taught the art of healing by Cookmother, but still Ailia longs for what she cannot have and will not be without skin – a journeywoman.

Born to the skinless, or lost to their familie
Sean Barrs
This sounds very good!

I won it as a giveaway. I shall review the book when I’ve received it and read it.
Aug 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is 60% kick ass, 10% frustrating, 5% oversexed, 25% omfgggggggg ahhhhh amazing
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the area of England that is now Somerset, this novel takes place just prior to the Roman invasion of AD43. It centres around a foundling girl, Ailia, who is raised as a servant in the Tribe Queen's household. Because her family is unknown, and because this relates to the importance of Skin in their culture, Ailia is an outsider unable to take part in some of the rites and learning. When she displays some talents in the art of Druidry, Ailia fights for education in this area and this leads ...more
Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Before I begin the main review of the book can we all take a minute to marvel in the beauty of this cover! When I saw this on NetGalley it was the cover that originally drew me in, I personally think it’s absolutely gorgeous and I might even have to purchase myself a copy to keep on my shelf.

Firstly let me say that historical fiction is not normally my first choice of genre, although I have read a few fantastic historical fiction novels over the years. There was just something about Skin that pu
Lynn Williams
Aug 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Just finished reading Skin by Ilka Tampke which is a very unusual and intriguing book.

The story gets off to an immediate and rather gory start – so be warned on that front. Set in Iron Age Britain around AD 43. Britain is poised on the brink of Roman invasion and in the village of Caer Cad the locals look to their ancient rituals in order to guide them.

The people of this age were superstitious, they lived by ritual and believed in the sacred laws of nature
Aug 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I first learned about Ilka Tampke’s Skin, I immediately knew I wanted to read it as it hits so many of my sweet spots, fantasy combined with historical fiction set in Celtic Britain. Not to mention that Tampke at some point mixes in just a hint of the Arthurian legend that is still in the far future in this book. When I finally managed to snag a copy of the paperback last summer, I just started the first page over coffee at Foyles and I was hooked. I read the book over the course of my Nine ...more
Emma Darcy
Sep 25, 2016 rated it liked it
*3.5 stars

I can't say that I loved it, but I also read it obsessively for two days. The ending is brutal and will make you bitter. You will have so many feelings. One of them will be rage probably.
David Brush
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Julia Tulloh Harper
I loved this story! I literally could not put it down. It follows Ailia, a young person living with a tribe in Iron Age Britain as they prepare for the Roman invasion. The tribe's greatest concern is that the Romans will destroy their system of knowledge - a skin/totem system - given to them by the Mothers, the mystical beings who created and now sustain the land and their lives. But Ailia is an orphan and so never received a skin, and as such she can't do anything - learn, swim, properly partic ...more
Historical fiction with fantasy elements is not my usual reading fare, but this debut novel from Ilka Tampke turned out to be enjoyable light reading. It is set in Southwest Britain in AD43, just as the Roman legions are about to invade, and its heroine is a feisty girl called Ailia.

Ailia’s tribe, the people of Caer Cad, has a belief system based on ‘skin’. At birth girls are given their skin and sung into being. This entitles them to participate in ceremonies, and to learn the ancient knowledge
Martin Belcher
Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
I found myself utterly and completely enchanted by this book, it pulled me in to a wonderfully vivid world of Ancient Britain of AD43 just prior to the Roman invasion. Ailia is a young girl born without 'skin' not in the conventional sense but meaning without mother, without passing on skin gifted by song from mother to child. Ailia is left outside a village hut, abandoned as a child, unwanted, unloved but with a strong sense of purpose, she lives out her childhood in the village of Caer Cad, se ...more
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
"I see what you mean, it's weird."
"Well- the bits at the start aren't so weird-"
"Michelle, it starts with a human sacrifice and then a sex ritual."

- a direct conversation between myself and my flatmate who recommended the book because "you like weird Celtic stuff". Which is true. And I did really like this story! It had a lot of interesting stuff in it! It's just... okay, it's just that the main character was fourteen for most of the story, and fourteen year olds are the most irritating creature
May 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I know I really enjoyed this book, I found it engrossing, I loved the setting and the style of writing and thought the time period was really interesting, however, my overriding thought was "when is she ever going to listen?!"

I felt that every time Ailia was told not to do something, THAT was EXACTLY what she was going to do! Don't go there, next page she's knee deep EXACTLY there. Don't do that, next chapter she's doing it. She was meant to be this meek creature who felt like she lacked so was
Apr 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first picked up this book I thought it sounded intriguing yet I was not overly excited. In fact, I put it down but a few days later came back to it when looking for my next book to read. So glad I picked up this book. I read it in one day. This time I actually have to agree that the reference to Khaleesi is a good reference. Albion is a dynamic woman. The special abilities that she possess is cool. Although at this point I have not felt any strong feelings towards the two male interests. ...more
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
The world of Caer Cad feels very real in this rivetting and unusual coming of age story, set in pagan England as the Romans invade. Ailia is a headstrong and impulsive young woman who moves between the 'hardworld' and the mystical realm of the Mothers as she learns to manage the power she has been given. I loved the earthy, evocative language, which never falters, and the gradual revealing of Ailia's story. I wonder what skin I would have...
Marnie Nitschke
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Historial fiction/fantasy isn't usually my 'go to' genre, but Skin hooked me in immediately with it's strong, gritty female characters and beautiful prose. Ilka paints such a vivid picture of life in iron age Britain - I'm unsure how much of this story is fact and how much is fiction. Supernatural forces seem perfectly normal in the world of Caer Cad, and the life of protagonist Ailia, where brutality and romance intertwine to create a magical story you just don't want to end. I loved this!
Belinda Rule
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, fantasy
I had read bits of this in a workshop with Ilka back in the day but have only just (slacker) got to reading the whole thing, and am so pleased I did. It's compulsively readable - I chugged it in three hours flat. And the whole fish... situation is even more delightful than I remember.

The ending is very dark, for those who don't like that.
Elena Peñafiel
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
I would give 4 and a half stars if I could. The only reason why I'm not giving it five stars is because is a bit predictable sometimes, but only sometimes. Apart from that I really enjoyed it, it's wonderfully written and the story is awesome. The characters are great too. I hope there's a second part.
Bev Walkling
This book falls a little outside the usual genre of books that I read other than that it is set in a long ago time period. I borrowed it from my local library attracted by the cover art and title. The book has also been published under the title "Skin" in other countries and apparently is the debut publication by this author. I was extremely impressed!

It is set in the time period shortly before the Romans overtake Britain. It is an era that we really don't have a lot of primary sources to search
Reilly Windsor-Daly
Oct 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
This book was a real surprise, I was really not sure what I was going to make of this book at the time I picked it up. It was originally given to me as a present because of my love of beautiful book covers, and this book has one of the best covers I have ever seen! It even gained an extra 1/2 a star because of how much I loved the book cover!

This boom is unlike anything I have ever read and in some ways that is a great thing. I loved how the ending was realistic, being neither really happy or sa
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Ilka Tampke teaches fiction at RMIT University. Her first novel, Skin, was published in eight countries and was nominated for the Voss Literary Prize and the Aurealis Awards in 2016. Ilka lives on five acres in the Macedon Ranges of Victoria.

Other books in the series

Skin (2 books)
  • Songwoman (Skin #2)

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