Review: Seventeen Names for Skin by Roland Blackburn

Published August 31st 2020 by Weirdpunk BooksISBN1951658167 (ISBN13: 9781951658168)

Buy it here: Weirdpunk Books, Bookshop, or Amazon


After a cancer diagnosis gives her six months to live, Snow Turner does what any introverted body-piercer might: hire a dark-web assassin and take out a massive life insurance policy to benefit her ailing father. But when a vicious attack leaves her all too alive and with a polymorphic curse, the bodies begin stacking up. As the insatiable hunger and violent changes threaten to consume her, she learns that someone may still be trying to end her life. Can Snow keep her humanity intact, or will she tear everything she loves apart?


Seventeen Names for Skin, the newest book in the flawless publishing record of WeirdPunk Books, takes place in a dreary Portland, one where the main character, Snow, has just learned that she has a tumor in her brain and decides to hire an assassin off of the dark web to kill her. This is a pretty dark opening to the novella, but what happens after the attack, turns this story on it’s head. The tone of the book changes after the attack, and it turns from a story that is very bleak to a story that is almost filled with whimsy and mystery. Snow tries to navigate a new life that is plagued by uncontrollable polymorphic abilities, and she is struck by not only the problems of these actions, but by the way that it is effecting her life, her job, her clothes, her money, and her relationships. Blackburn writes it in a way that makes the reader feel amused more than terrified at the prospects of what is going on. I mean sure, there is still violence, blood, and gore, but the overall feel of the story is more pretty entertaining and almost could be categorized as bizarro.

I like the way that the story unfolds, and I like the way that Blackburn plots and executes the ideas. He did a good job of disguising what was going to happen next, and it was satisfying even if it was somewhat obvious the direction he was going. I did come away with a few questions about the plot (e.g. the purpose of her dog, Talbot, having the same affliction and how they always transformed at the same time), but these are not nagging enough to distract from this being an enjoyable, fun book to read. There were some great sentences in this book, some that I reread a few times because of the structure and the magnitude of feeling and description that he was able to put into so few words. Mix some poetic moments with a story that is fun and interesting with characters you enjoy, and what is not to really love about this novella? 

End Note:

There has not been a single novella I have read that I have had to search for in the house more than this one. Even though my two year old twins like to carry my current reads around the house, they would take this one and hide it. I found it several times in their room, under the bed, or just right next to them while they watched TV. I figure it has something to do with the size (perfect for little hands), and maybe the front picture, but it was interesting knowing that I had to track this one down every time I wanted to read it.

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