Isserley always drove straight past a hitch-hiker when she first saw him, to give herself time to size him up. She was looking for big muscles: a hunk on legs. Puny, scrawny specimens were no use to her.So begins Michel Faber's first novel: a lone female scouts the Scottish Highlands in search of well-proportioned men and the reader is given to expect the unfolding of some latter-day psychosexual drama. But commonplace expectation is no guide for this strange and deeply unsettling book; small details at first, then more major clues, suggest that something deeply bizarre is afoot. What are the reason's for Isserley's extensive surgical scarring, her thick glasses (which are just glass), her excruciating backache? Who are the solitary few who work on the farm where her cottage is located? And why are they all nervous about the arrival of someone called Amlis Vess?
The ensuing narrative is one of such cumulative, compelling strangeness that it almost defies description--the one thing that can be said with certainty is that Under The Skin is unlike anything else you have ever read. The result is a narrative of enormous imaginative and emotional coherence from a writer whose control of his medium is nearly flawless and who applies the rules of psychological realism to a fictional world that is terrifying and unearthly to the point that the reader's identification with Isserley becomes one of absolute sympathy.
Michel Faber's debut deserves to inherit and expand upon the acclaim bestowed upon his short-story collection Some Rain Must Fall. Under the Skin is a reviewer's nightmare and a reader's dream: a book so distinctive, so elegantly written and so original that all one can say is simply to experience it. An extraordinary first book. -- Burhan Tufail
"A wonderful book - painful, lyrical, frightening, brilliant . . . I couldn't put it down" (Kate Atkinson)
Teases and prods the reader up a plethora of literary blind alleys before hauling them screaming towards its final, thrilling destination" (Daily Telegraph)
This is a man who could give Conrad a run at writing the perfect sentence" (Guardian)
". . . strange, adept, original . . . Would that more first novels were as adventurous or as funky and daring in their conception" (Independent on Sunday)
Profound and disturbing . . . Faber writes superbly" (Sunday Times)
"Brilliantly compressed drama of threat and ambiguity . . . Recalling writers such as Jim Crace and Russell Hoban, Under the Skin, like Faber's short stories, is an extremely assured and imaginative work" (Observer)
"Under the Skin is a shocking and fantastical take on modern humanity" (The Week)
"One measure of a book is its stickability, its ability to remain in the mind long after being read. Michel Faber's Under the Skin passes this test with ease, or should that be unease? Faber builds a credible thriller on what seems the shakiest of premises . . . Its triumph, however, is that it plays on the mind long after a first reading. It is the best first novel of the year and a worthy successor to Faber's short stories" (Herald)
"Astonishingly, this is Michel Faber's first novel. It is audacious, fascinating, repellent and quite unlike anything I have ever read" (Mail on Sunday)