Michelle Rene, An­nor­lunda Books (MARCH) Soft­cover $9.99 (147pp), 978-1-944354-35-0

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight / Fantasy -

A hos­pi­tal­ized girl is roused from a coma, wak­ing to a world where Judg­ment Day has come and gone. Michelle Rene’s Tat­too, a novella from a press spe­cial­iz­ing in the form, jux­ta­poses postapoc­a­lypse with re­birth as old forces re­visit a new gen­er­a­tion.

Be­cause the Maker’s hand tat­toos cit­i­zens’ sto­ries on their bod­ies as they’re hap­pen­ing, there are no se­crets any­more. Whole pro­fes­sions are reimag­ined; po­lice read skins rather than col­lect­ing ev­i­dence, while tat­too artists traf­fic in il­le­gal skin al­ter­ations. Skin’s not just a tes­ti­mony to the out­side world, it’s also a record of a per­son’s in­di­vid­ual iden­tity and mem­ory. Change the skin, change the per­son.

When Jane Spar­row, a bald young woman bear­ing no tat­toos, sud­denly ap­pears on the streets of Dal­las, she’s an un­known quan­tity, even to her­self. For most, her blank skin threat­ens the sta­tus quo. No tat­toos means she’s ac­count­able only to her­self. While the sys­tem seems in­tent on mak­ing her dis­ap­pear, five peo­ple—an in­sane mother, a young sa­vant, a prison guard, a tat­too artist, and a lawyer—see some­thing quite dif­fer­ent: “ev­ery­thing frail and true left in the world.”

When peo­ple’s bod­ies are in­scribed with their sto­ries, there’s no such thing as merely skin-deep. In Rene’s re­demp­tion story, sur­faces re­veal deep truths about hu­man­ity. And ac­cord­ing to the pow­ers be­hind Jane Spar­row’s ad­vent, noth­ing sig­nals this more than blank white skin, sym­bols of frailty and fragility, “pre­cious trea­sures to be treated with kind­ness and love.” Of course, this is also a world where gods and peo­ple are try­ing for re­demp­tion one more time, so there are no guar­an­tees that they’ve got the for­mula right just yet.

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