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by Patricia Ward

SKINNER LUCE by Patricia Ward

Talos/Skyhorse * January 2016 * 272 pages

Skinner was what servs called each other. It was because they were fake, their skins a disguise...”

All around us, under most of humanity’s very noses, lurks a dangerous alien race. The Nafikh inhabit human bodies while visiting Earth, and an underground system designed to disguise and protect them from being discovered allows them to indulge their wildest and often violent urges. The circumstances of these brutal visits require the sacrifice of servs.

Servs are aliens themselves, created by the Nafikh to attend to their every need. Physically indistinguishable from humans, they are destined to live in pain, their very livelihood regulated by the Source, a powerful force of energy inside each of them that burns like a white-hot fire under the stress of their servitude.

Lucy is a serv who arrived a baby, and by chance was adopted by humans. She’s an outcast among outcasts, dwelling in both worlds but belonging to neither. For years she has been walking a tightrope, balancing between the horrors of her serv existence and the ordinary human life she desperately longs to maintain, her family unaware of her darkest secrets.

But when the body of a serv child turns up and Lucy is implicated in the gruesome death, the worlds she’s tried so hard to keep separate collide. Hounded by the police, targeted in the dog-eat-dog world of servs, she'll find herself fighting to protect her family and the life she's made for herself. SKINNER LUCE is Lucy’s story.

Patricia Ward was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, immigrating to the United States when she was eighteen. She is the author of the award-winning novel The Bullet Collection, a story of two sisters growing up in wartime Beirut, as well as an artist specializing in miniature books and dioramas.


Skinner Luce has been selected as one of Amazon’s Best Books of 2016 in the science fiction & fantasy category. View the list of the 20 best SFF titles here.

Praise for Skinner Luce:

"Skinner Luce paints a heroine who's more human than most in her fears and ambitions and who will grab your heart. This book will haunt you long after you put it down."—Amazon Book Review, Omnivoracious, "The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of January" & 20 Best SFF of the Year

“Ward delivers a gut-punching novel, consistently taut and bleak. Readers will feel Lucy hanging on by her fingernails just beneath the human world and bloodied by every hard climb upward as she tries straddling two lives while fitting into neither.”—Publishers Weekly

“High-caliber, often engrossing literary sci-fi.” —Kirkus Reviews, best speculative fiction of January 2016

“A really creative and interesting read . . . The narrative voice stuck faithfully to Lucy, not once giving the reader pause.”—Fresh Fiction

“A fiercely original premise carried to a logical and thought-provoking conclusion.”—SF Signal

“A masterly written slowburner . . . Skinner Luce is a dark and beautiful dystopian hallucination that will keep you simultaneously cringing and wanting more. Lucy glows like an ember of rage and strength in search of personal liberation and redemption.” —Seb Doubinsky, author of Song of Synth and Goodbye Babylon

“A darkly clever concept with an oppressive atmosphere that never lets up.” —Kit Whitfield, author of Benighted and In Great Waters