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Cold Skin

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  356 Ratings  ·  64 Reviews
First love, sexual awakening, murder, cowardice, vengeance and forgiveness are the powerful ingredients for Steven Herrick's gutsiest novel yet, a psychologically complex murder mystery for teenagers.
Paperback, 267 pages
Published August 1st 2007 by Allen & Unwin (first published 2006)
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Opening Sentence: “…They named me Eddie after Mum’s father who died before I was born…”
Eddie Holding lives with his family on the edge of Burruga in NSW Australia. Burruga is a coal mining town and Eddie yearns to leave school and start work down the in the mine. His father, Albert, has returned from WWII mentally broken – he wants Eddie and his brother Larry to rise above the crowd. Working as a farmhand, Albert is obsessed with his sons staying in school and refuses to let Eddie go down the mi
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Australian author Herrick here writes a more than just a murder mystery told in verse. It's also a story of life in a small post-WWII Australian town, and the relationship between a father and his sons. Herrick vividly depicts Burruga, where husbands make the daily route between work, the pub, and home, and wives keep house. I kept wondering if this place had a library or any kind of cultural events. Surely the men could find something else to do besides drink. The mystery part of it kept me gue ...more
I found this book utterly unique in it's own way. It was written in different perspectives from suspects of a murder. It was written in poems.
If the book had a different plot, set in a different time or the characters were improved so we can relate to them better; I would have rated Cold Skin higher.Though It did get a bit frustrating at times when constantly reading in rhymes.
You would like this book if u like reading books that contain:
Apr 19, 2015 rated it did not like it
What would you do if you had the choice to either save a killer or let him die? Cold Skin is a novel about a teenage boy named Eddie who lives in a mining town after World War two. I have no idea how long after World War two, was it a month or a year? beats me, it could of been a decade for all I know. I can't tell you anything else about Eddie or any of the other characters because I literally know nothing about them. Anyway, as far as I can tell someone that he used to go to school with ends u ...more
Feb 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Cold Skin is a novel in verse that takes place after World War II in a mining town in Barruga, Australia. The story is told from many different characters points of view who are listed at the beginning of the novel and their name is repeated when they tell their side of the story. Most of the men Barruga have come back from the war, Albert Holden drove a truck but did not fight during the war. Mayor Paley never went to war and Jack O'Connor saw too much fighting. Albert's sons, Eddie and Larry, ...more
May 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Weer zo'n prachtig in versvorm geschreven boek van Steven Herrick. Langzaam wordt de spanning opgebouwd als blijkt dat er een meisje is vermoord. Wie heeft het gedaan?
Steven Herrick schrijft vanuit negen verschillende personages, zodat het je als lezer al een beetje een idee geeft wie de moordenaar zou kunnen zijn.
Hoewel ik Aan de rivier nét een ietsje beter vond, geef ik dit boek toch ook vijf sterren.
Anna Kim
Nov 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Though this story is told from multiple perspectives, the calm voice of Eddie keeps the narrative from disintegrating into shapelessness. Set in an Australian coal mining town after WWII, the steady lives of the townspeople is turned upside down when a young girl is found murdered and all of the men become suspects. As the narrative unfolds, we learn more about the characters and discover that everyone has secrets that should never see the light of day.
Heidi Schutt
Aug 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This story surprised me. It is written completely in poems from different points of views. I was hesitant to read it because it was poetry, but I loved the way the story was told. It was a successful and effective way to capture the full understanding of an event that changed the entire town. I thought the characters' voices were given more freedom to explore their thoughts.
Zori De Vara Holgate

The curves of this story are amazing. The flow is gorgeous and the writing is sincere.

There are rare books that can mold a sad story so beautifully and Cold Skin does just that.

Kayleigh Grindley
Dec 21, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ethna Brave
Jun 10, 2018 rated it liked it
I first came across Stephen Herrick when I was teaching in Australia as I had to teach ‘My Town’. I have to admit I found the verse novel a challenging text type to get used to and it took me a while to get into the book, but when I did I enjoyed it. When I recently came across ‘Cold Skin’ in my school library in Italy, I had to borrow it. I started reading it on Friday night and I was hooked and kept reading until I had half the book read. The verses are easy to read, the layout accessible and ...more
Sadie A
Feb 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The novel Cold Skin, written by Steven Herrick is unlike any other book I have read. It shows people discovering who they are, relationships being made, murder and forgiveness. Nearly every page is about a different character and reveals their side of what is happening. This is why I would compare this book to Flipped. They both share the view the characters are having on each side .It shares their own opinion of what they think of others and what they tend to say to themselves. For instance, at ...more
Oct 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I had never even heard of this book, but I picked it up off the shelf at the library and it sounded interesting. Would I recommend this book? Yes. It was a super quick read and I enjoy reading about the character Eddie.
Flossmoor Public Library (IL)
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: teen-fiction
4 stars

- Ms. Jenn
Jan 10, 2013 rated it liked it
After reading Cold Skin by Steven Herrick, I realized that this is a story of betrayal and regrets. The theme of this novel is about how unexpectedly and quickly things can change.

This story takes place in an Australian mining town, slightly after World War II. Most of the characters in this story participated in the war, and almost all of them are working in the mines. There is not a whole lot of action in this town, named Burrga, but when something like this happens, the whole town shuts down
Nov 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Readers are brought back in time to small-town Australia just after the Second World War in this mystery written in verse. Burruga is a working-class mining town, and most of the men were shipped off to fight in Asia during the war. While everyone seems to have no trouble in judging the failings of those around them, it is a tight-knit community where everyone knows everything about everyone else.

The town is shocked when Colleen, a local teen, is found dead at a local makeout location. Everyone
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for

Set in a small Australian town and the area surrounding it, COLD SKIN is the story of brothers Eddie and Larry Holding, their parents, friends, and townspeople. What ties them together besides community connections is the disappearance and murder of a young girl.

Eddie Holding is on the edge of adulthood. He'll be finished with school soon, and his dream is to put his size and strength to good use by working in the mines. It's a dang
Aug 24, 2012 rated it really liked it

"I lie in the cool grass under the rosewood tree
and look up at the looming cliff.
It has the face of an old man
with one eye closed
and a scar on his chin,
a coal-seam scar
too high to mine.
I close my eyes,
listening to the rustle of the leaves
and the distant siren from the mine.
The afternoon shift finishing at midnight.
I sleep beside the Coal Man
battered into the cliff,
miles above my town."
(p. 82-3)

"Men walk through tragedy, quietly,
calm and precise on the ouside,
tearing themselves to shreds inside.
Oct 22, 2009 rated it liked it
I'm all for murder mysteries. And I'm not adverse to poetry. The reason I only give this book *** is twofold. Firstly, the author jumps heads almost every other page. Which is fine, in and of itself, but because this is a murder mystery, that means that you are going to be inside the killer's head from time to time. In order to make the book suspenseful, the author leave thoughts out of the killer's head, so you don't know right away who it is. I dislike books, like this, where the author plays ...more
Rebecca Johnson
Eddie, eighteen, hulking and trapped in school, lives in the backwater town of Burrugo. Nothing ever happens there, ever; the most you can hope for is a chance to get a job working in the local coal mine - and even that, his father won't allow. Life in the small town is thrown upside down, however, when Colleen, a local teen beauty, is found dead by the river. Suddenly every one - everyone - is a suspect.

Problem is, despite the size of the town, no one really seems to know their neighbours terri
May 18, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-eval-book, ya
Burruga, Australia is a small town and everyone knows everyone else’s business…or do they? Several of the townspeople’s stories are told in a series of prose poems alternating among the characters. The main characters are the Holding family: father Albert and sons Eddie and Larry. Albert Holding came back from WWII a changed man, not because he had seen action, but because he hadn’t. He refused to work in the mines and forbade his sons from doing so as well. Eddie was not much interested in scho ...more
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: easy-read, kids-teens
In country Burruga, nothing ever happens, but everyone's eyes are on you anyway. Then the body of a local girl is found, and everyone is under suspicion for murder. Page by page the tension and climax build. A verse novel written with the usual aplomb of Steven Herrick. For older teen readers.
‘Cold Skin’ by Steven Herrick is another outstanding verse novel for young adults from this Australian author. Each page gives you the inner-most thoughts of one of the novel’s characters – from Albert, Edd
May 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was really different for a novel in verse. I would say that it would be high school age to adult. Basically a coming of age novel with a murder mystery thrown in. This is the story of life in a small coal mining town and the men and their children who live there. It seems that everyone has a secret that all start getting flushed out toward the end. Eddie, the main character, spends his days figuring out his feeling for Sally and trying to find a way out of his father's shadow. As their roma ...more
Jun 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-books
This was an interesting YA book. The writing set-up looks like poetry (very thin) and it took a couple pages to get used to it (since it isn't poetry). There are only 6 or so chapters, but each chapter is divided up into different character POV's. Eddie is such a darling character and he is so cute! There are some unexpected things that happen. I thought the author did a brilliant job of getting into each character's head, which could have been difficult since he switches between about 8 differe ...more
Autumn Hinkley
Oct 17, 2014 rated it liked it
The beginning of this book seemed to drag pretty bad, I didn't want to read it but felt forced into it. It felt like I was trying to make a relationship with the characters but just didn't seem to be able to. The book went from one character to another, but this book was different. It was written in verse which switching characters every few pages helped a lot. You followed the story easier in my opinion because of the perspectives you had to look through to understand the book. I really enjoyed ...more
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
I'm sorry, I just can't. Novels in verse have never been my thing, and they never will be. It was an interesting story, but me being the kind of reader that I am I felt like a lot of potential for depth and great story was lost in the format. I can understand this being a great book for a reluctant reader, or one with a short attention span, but I like to get lost in my books and that just wasn't happening here.
Eddie is not into school and gets caught up in a mystery when a girl he goes to school with turns up dead. Many of the men that live in Eddie's town is under suspicion.

I would only allow high schoolers to read this book because a lot of the material is not suited for young children. A lot of the feelings and urges that are going on in the book, high schoolers should more than likely be able to relate to and will find enjoyment out of reading and solving this murder mystery.
Sep 10, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, verse
The setting is a small town in Australia after WWII. The style is interesting, reminiscent of Edgar Lee Master's Spoon River Anthology, though with fewer characters. Free-form poetry rather than prose, it reads quickly. Since it is told from each person's perspective, we get a sense of what happens inside each person. I think that's the point of the story, what is really going on, what people really want or settle for, how you can't really know about a person, or sometimes even yourself.
Meghan Douglas
May 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
Cold Skin is a departure from the norm for Steven Herrick. It's still written in verse, from multiple perspectives and focuses largely on a male protagonist. However, it is also a historical novel and a "murder mystery" of sorts. It's colder and darker than his other work, examining regret, disgust, fear and cowardice alongside the hope and young love of youth.
Kylie Sparks
This was enjoyable enough, but not especially compelling. It's a story of a small town murder in a mining town, in verse. The verse reads just like prose. There's little suspense to the story. All of the characters are fairly one-note. There is a little romance, but mostly it's just a simple story. I'm a little puzzled by the YA designation--I can't imagine young adults would like this.
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“Men walk through tragedy, quietly, calm and precise on the outside, tearing themselves to shreds inside.” 11 likes
“My father said to remember your enemies as well as your friends, and don't trust either of them.” 9 likes
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