Skin Grows Over

Lucy Elizabeth Allan


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Ghost Orchid Press
19 July 2022
ISBN: 9781739996840
208 pages

From the publisher

A young woman who has never learned how to grieve begins to come apart following the loss of the one friend who truly understood her. A mysterious and obsessive Humanist celebrant prepares to perform the most important funeral of her life. A world-weary and weather-beaten museum custodian resigns herself to hosting a mysterious ceremony that goes against everything she believes in. Connecting the three of them, a centuries-old bog mummy, hovering around it all, watching, waiting to be put to rest.

Skin Grows Over weaves realism with uncanny horror, using images of deep history and the otherworldly Scottish wilderness to tell a very modern tale about grief, queerness, and female embodiment. In a culture where dead women are objects of immaculate peaceful beauty existing only to be mourned by others, this grotesque and earthy dead woman who refuses to stay dead comes to represent the uncanny overlap of grief and female embodiment, in all its ugly humanity.


Praise for Skin Grows Over:

"Skin Grows Over is a haunting meditation on death, bodies, and difference. Ali, an untethered and unmoored young woman, is deeply affected by the death of her childhood friend Ana - even more so, because she had begun to push Ana away, and camouflage her own differences to better fit into the modern world. When Ali forms a tangible and uncanny connection with a female bog body, due to be laid to rest in a half-mystical, half-elegiac ceremony taking place in the wilderness of Flanders Moss, she is forced to confront her own buried grief, and the power - and sadness - those differences might bring.

Fans of Andrew Michael Hurley will find much to love in these remote, folk-horror-redolent landscapes; fans of Lucie McKnight Hardy will be delighted by Allan's intricate and deft characterisation, presenting many potential visions of female power and resilience. This is, quite simply, an extraordinary book, and Allan an astonishing new talent."​​​

—Ally Wilkes, author of All the White Spaces


"Eerie and beautiful, this story explores the heartbreak of death and loss. Let it lead you through a deep, mystical world of incantations to the edge of the earth where haunted souls submerge, roped together in grief."

—Anna Cheung, author of Where Decay Sleeps


"Skin Grows Over has the chilly bones of pure gothic horror with a warm, tender, utterly human heart at its centre. Fiercely queer and feminist, it draws together the historical and supernatural to tell a profoundly contemporary story about memory, identity and how we might find ourselves through those we have lost. 

I loved this sensory, cinematic haunting which carried me from city to rain lashed country and moved me completely. Lyrical, literary and pacy, Skin Grows Over will capture the imagination, chill the marrow and move the emotions in equal measure and belongs among the best of contemporary horror writing."

—Rose Ruane, author of This is Yesterday


"Blood under skin can’t be like water under the bridge; sexuality and grief, the strongest of human experiences, make Skin Grows Over that veiny red thumping. Lucy Elizabeth Allan has cut together a gripping narrator, Ali, who has dirt stuck under her skin and an inability to connect, emotionally, with women unburied. Yet no longer able to see herself in their rotted flesh, she must confront the unsaid and bring herself back out from under her own surfaces. Skin Grows Over is a truly smooth, haunting novella to be read—and feared—in one unstraight sitting."

—Pascale Potvin, Editor-in-Chief of Wrongdoing Magazine