Today, as part of the blog tour marking the novel’s release, we have an excerpt from Tim Major‘s Snakeskins. Here’s the synopsis:
Caitlin Hext’s first shedding ceremony is imminent, but she’s far from prepared to produce a Snakeskin clone. When her Skin fails to turn to dust as expected, she must decide whether she wishes the newcomer alive or dead.
Worse still, it transpires that the Hext family may be of central importance to the survival of Charmers, a group of people with the inexplicable power to produce duplicates every seven years and, in the process, rejuvenate. In parallel with reporter Gerry Chafik and government aide Russell Handler, Caitlin must prevent the Great British Prosperity Party from establishing a corrupt new world order.
Read on for just a small taste of this intriguing novel.
The light became less gold and more purple, then finally green. The fairy lights turned grass-green too. Without a particular sense of surprise, Caitlin realised that the colour change was due to the green aura that now surrounded her.
A tickling sensation began at her toes, then crept upwards, as though she was being immersed slowly into a warm bath. The tickliness soothed her skin and somehow supported her, making her body feel lighter and her limbs floaty and difficult to locate. She felt a glimmer of panic, too, as the green light threatened to eclipse her view of Evie and her family, but it was as though the fear were something small and hard and unthreatening, buried beneath the pleasant sensations.
There was beauty in this. She felt a flush of pride. She thought of her mum, watching. Her mouth opened.
The feeling disappeared.
She looked to her right.
There she was.
The first thing that struck her about the Snakeskin was her nakedness. Rather than feel prudish on behalf of the other girl, Caitlin had the sudden notion that her own clothes must make her look ridiculous. The Snakeskin’s body was stunning. Not because of its shape – though seeing her own body from this angle was both alarming and oddly gratifying; she realised that she was more curvy and less gangly than she had always imagined – and more because the Skin held herself in such a way as to appear unashamed of herself.
Even so, Caitlin swung the blanket off her shoulders and offered it to the other girl. As she did so, she noticed that the red scar on her own arm had disappeared entirely. Her body had been healed, rejuvenated. She really was a Charmer, now. During each successive shedding, the changes would be more pronounced. She would continue to reap the benefits long after her Skin became ash.
The Skin took the blanket, careful not to let her fingers touch Caitlin’s. Only now did she start shivering.
Caitlin heard her dad speak, somewhere far away. His voice sounded small and dry.
Out of the corner of her eye, Caitlin saw Tobe reach over to take the crimson notebook from her dad. He read haltingly. “We honour you. And with your arrival we acknowledge this important milestone in the life of Caitlin Usborne Hext. With your passing, she will learn and grow. You are the instrument of her maturation. We thank you.”
Caitlin kept her eyes on the Snakeskin. The girl blinked and her teeth chattered. Her eyes glistened with tears. She was gazing upwards, as Caitlin had intended, at the last pinks of daylight. It suddenly struck Caitlin that the Skin wasn’t allowing herself to look at Evie or Ian. Perhaps it was too painful.
“Can you remember?” Caitlin whispered. “Everything?”
The Snakeskin turned. She didn’t respond, but Caitlin knew the answer. That crumpled look was exactly the expression she herself would make, if she found herself in her situation. She had read all the science books about Snakeskins. She understood the phrase ‘trace memory’. But that didn’t cover it. The Skin had Caitlin’s memories, her character, maybe even her soul, whatever that might be. The only difference was that the Skin was the one wearing the blanket. She must know that she was the copy. And she must know she had only moments before she would be gone forever.