My first novella, City of Kaiju, is finally out! Available through Amazon and Books2Read. You can see a preview of the very first chapter here. Help support a fresh new author with a fantastic read this spring season.
Warning: This story is not for the faint of heart. Contains language and gruesome moments. You have been warned.
Today, we’re reviewing Second Skin by Pip Coen, as featured in Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine. You can buy an issue here. This is a wonderfully told tale of a mysterious girl that has unique powers that transcend imagination itself. So let’s head into it, shall we?
The farm hand’s memory.
The story focuses on the title character, Mr. Musil, who adopts a mute child, Saskia Krall, to help in his sheep farm. However, he discovers that she has mysterious, empathic powers that can heal and mend, or destroy in an instant.
The plot is simple enough, but carries a lot of weight to it. It focuses on the relationship between the farmer and his helper, the daughter of a prestigious enough family, looking to make up for their daughter’s disability. Seeing their relationship unfold, especially after not caring too much in the beginning, was wonderful to read.
Seeing Saskia showcase her innate talents was a mystery throughout. She was mentioned at the beginning, which added to the mystery. You knew of her, but not who she was, other than her memories grow and then, it’s as if she never existed. She’s a very interesting character and had the story been a little longer, we could have seen her personality unfold.
Having a character shrouded in mystery like this is always fun to read. Who is she? How do her powers work? What will she do with them? It’s stories like these that keep readers guessing. After all, you want to know who this girl is and what her powers are, right?
As for the story itself, I can’t really find much wrong with it. It’s not wildly amazing, but as far as a story goes, it’s pretty solid. The vision at the end was a bit abrupt, and I would have loved to see more of the fallout between Saskia and Mr. Musil. Knowing what she did at the end would have made anyone angry, even for a guy like him.
Of course that would somewhat make him an accomplice since he’s kind of on the run towards the end, even though he is telling us such a story. It does make for a fun legend, however. The girl who just appears and disappears after committing such heinous acts.
It was admittedly a creepy story. I wasn’t sure what the title meant at first. I thought she was some alien life form and just took her human body as a second skin. But knowing the meaning of the title, it really changed my expectations. After all, who would have assumed that it’d be a fantasy version of Texas Chainsaw Massacre all of a sudden. Okay, it wasn’t that gory, but skinning a living human being is a bit creepy in and of itself. Which I wish I had known that before plopping a review with stories aimed at kids. Though we’re mature enough to handle it, right?
That’s…kinda all to say, really. It’s a short, sweet, and satisfying tale that really keeps you guessing. Simple enough, but great in execution. I liked it. Do check this one out if you’re looking a creepy side to fantasy.
+ Gripping and mysterious
+ Dark and gruesome
+ Well developed cast
+/- Gets creepy without warning.
4/5 – Good story.
That’s all for today. If you liked this post and want to see more, I have a Ko-Fi page set up. Why spend three bucks on a Starbucks Coffee when you can help support hard-working authors like me? Every bit helps and keeps me going. So thank you, and remember, the inn is always open.