Ileandra’s July Indie eBook Review: Skin

Cover art for Skin by AJ Malone

A.J. Malone

Author: A.J. Malone
Title: Skin
Genre: Urban Suspensy-Thriller-Ish
ISBN: 9781311111043
Words: 69,000
‘Ordinary family guy and pacifist Dennis Small just wants a place for his family to grow up in peace. Drawn into a world of perverse crime, tattoo cults and unspeakable violence, he has to ask himself what will he do to save his family. Will he pay the ultimate price to keep his loved one’s safe? Sometimes you have to believe you can win, even when the whole world knows you can only lose.’

I’ve never read a book like this before. It’s a good thing. I’m learning, with each new book out there that there is lots of talent and thousands of different writing styles. This book is something new for me on all counts.


3.5 star ratingActually, I do like it. Very clean, very clear, though having read the book I don’t feel that the picture best hints at what lies within the pages. Looking at it, I think somewhat more about strip clubs. I wouldn’t be surprised if, somewhere through the rest of the series, strip clubs made and appearance, but that’s not what the tale is about. The cover image does show off a lot of skin, which I guess is good, but I will dock some points for the fact that it doesn’t seem to match up.


three starsThere’s a lot going on here. I found myself confused from time to time. Dennis Small is exactly what his name sounds like, a normal, small sort of man who likes things to be just so. He does what’s right as often as he can and is stuck in the middle of the road of his life. Everything about his life is mediocre. Oh, and he doesn’t like tattoos.
Things go to hell when 1) there are a series of violent murders on his estate and 2) when he finds out about his son’s borrowing from a dangerous loan shark.

Simultaneous to this we have Interpol agents coming to investigate and relatives of the first murder victim doing investigations of their own with the assistance of ‘magic’ tattoos. I put those quote marks in because I’m aware that I’m using the wrong word, but that’s the simplest way to describe it. I know nothing about the culture of tattoos or the religious/spiritual implications of certain types, inks, locations or whatever else. But there is a lot of that here and it adds interesting flavour to the piece.

Despite that flavour, I have to admit I got a little bit lost. Maybe I read it too fast, maybe it just wasn’t my cup of tea, but I couldn’t engage with the story as well as I wanted to and I think that’s in part because there were just too many viewpoints.


three starsSlightly too many for my personal tastes, making it hard for me to pin point specific things I like/dislike. I felt closest to Dennis, despite him being such a weak character (not in the writing, but in his personality). I find myself hoping he’ll grow into his role of protector of the family and figure out how to help them before he gets his legs broken.
Travis and Sammy felt a little overblown, though I understand the need for Sammy to be there. At this point in the series I’m not sure what Travis adds beyond another dimension into the investigation of the murders.
My favourite character has to be Theo Petrakis. His romantic life aside, I feel that he has the most going for him in terms of personality strength and drive. I want to see more of this chap.

Overall experience:

2.5 starsUnfortunately, despite the merits, I found this book very difficult to follow. And it’s not the multiple viewpoints, actually. Considering the fact that I’m also ploughing through A Story of Ice and Fire right now, that is really not an issue for me. No, the issue is that some of the story is in first person, the rest in third and there isn’t enough to get me close to one character. I have no idea who I should be rooting for because I don’t quite spend enough time with any character.

But that’s just me. I’m sure there are folk who would get more into the tattoo aspect of the story who would appreciate the different parts of the story. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t for me.

Final score:

three starsAverage across all scores comes to 3.00 stars.
A nice clear average there.

I think if there was more of the investigative side, or even more of Dennis I would have enjoyed the story more. Unfortunately the flitting from one part to another just didn’t do it for me.

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About Ileandra Young

I'm a thirty-*mumbles* year old (purple loving, cheese worshipping) author of fantasy, juggling a pair of beautiful twin boys with my burning desire to make up stories and write them all down. When I get the chance, I play games, listen to music, and in days long past I even ran a radio show. Though I occasionally write non-fiction, my heart lives in fantasy and my debut novel, Silk Over Razor Blades is now available through Amazon along with part two of the trilogy, Walking The Razor's Edge.
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