The Skin (Black Hind’s Wake #1), by J. E. Hannaford

The Book

The Skin
Series: Black Hind’s Wake
Pages: 418
Age Group: Adult
Published on 10/18/2022
Publisher: Self-published
Available on:


‘You cannot fix this world alone, selkie.’

´I know. But, when we die, all that is left are shadows of our lives preserved in the memories of those who remain. I plan on leaving an exceptionally long shadow, filled with ripples of moonlight for those I helped, and darker than the worst of nightmares for those who wronged us.’

How far would you go to save your skin?

I’m a selkie, trapped above the waves until I can recover my skin. Humans used to call us seal-wives many years ago – before they broke the planet. I thought that less humans, after the warming, would mean less danger. My kind believed our world was finally recovering.

We were wrong.

Up here, the magic is fading and Old Ones like me are being traded as trophies for rich and powerful humans to display in collections.

Without the Old Ones, the magic fades, without magic, the planet dies.

Humankind has gone too far and someone has to put a stop to it, I just wasn’t expecting it to be me.

As the selkie begins her hunt, far to the south on his enormous pleasure ship, Barge, Lord Sal hunts for missing Old Ones with a grand plan to leave his own mark on the world. Icidro and Prince Ulises are searching for them too, and this is a world where money talks louder than morals.

My Review (4 out of 5 )

The Skin is the first book on the Black Hind’s Wake duology, by J. E. Hannaford, who recently released the second part, The Pact (actually, it is being released the same day I write this review). It is a marvelous book, an ode of love to mythology, and a really engaging story. Before diving into a review of the content, we must talk about the visual aspect of the book, as it is a beautiful book, from the cover to the end, with stunning pieces of art in each chapter, which complement perfectly the story that is narrated inside.

We are introduced to the myth of the Selkie, one of the most unknown creatures from my perspective, and one which Hannaford takes with a ton of affection. Here we have the story of a selkie who has lost her skin, used as a foundation to build a character-driven story and a really interesting world. With a really outstanding use of prose, Hannaford crafts a great novel, but which I kinda found difficult to connect at the start, being this the reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5. And let me clarify this, I think The Skin is an art piece.

Once I dived into the story, I found really difficult to put down the book, as I was enjoying so much how the story evolves, how the narrative potential of the shapeshifting is used to craft a great plot, while using the travel on the Black Hind as a way to introduce us to the Old World, a twisted version of our own world, but intertwined with mythology and magic. Relationships between characters are really well fleshed, being also one of the main ways of making the story advance, while being almost a study on how experience and perspective might change the view of a person.

When we are getting comfortable with the plot, Hannaford takes all of these and gives it a new twist, making it even darker, submerging us more into the fantasy side of the story. Unexpected plot elements just help to enrich the whole novel. I don’t really want to deep dive into spoilers, but the use of the found family trope in this book is probably my favourite use of it.

I recommend this book to almost anybody who loves fantasy, and also to mythology lovers. Just the great prose makes it worth reading, as it feels like an art piece. It is true that for me, it took a little bit to get hooked, but probably I wasn’t the most suitable reader for The Skin; and even taking this into account, I enjoyed and towards the end, I love the book. Do yourself a favour, and read The Skin.

The Author/s

J.E. Hannaford

J.E. Hannaford

J E Hannaford is powered by coffee, dragons, and whisky. She teaches Biology in the real world and invents fantasy beasts to populate her own.She lives in Suffolk, UK, and pines for the coast and mountains of Wales.A love of nature and the ocean washes through the pages of J E Hannaford’s stories and pours out of the characters who live in it.

Her debut series is The Black Hind’s Wake Duology.