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At one time, Lydia and Christopher were lovers as well as travel companions; now they are merely fellow travelers. While on a trip to Morocco, Lydia notices a small mark on her hand which begins to grow and spread in thin, tattooed lines that only she can see. Eventually, the marks reveal themselves to be a detailed map of an unknown land, and Lydia begins to understand th At one time, Lydia and Christopher were lovers as well as travel companions; now they are merely fellow travelers. While on a trip to Morocco, Lydia notices a small mark on her hand which begins to grow and spread in thin, tattooed lines that only she can see. Eventually, the marks reveal themselves to be a detailed map of an unknown land, and Lydia begins to understand that these marks, invisible to all but herself and a mysterious Moroccan man named Layesh, will lead her on a strange and perilous journey. The Tattooed Map is Lydia's journal of the days and weeks leading up to her disappearance. Each page contains her daily experiences--her growing shock and fear as the map unfolds itself, her deteriorating relationship with Christopher, her conversations with strangers--as well as the memorabilia she collects along the way: maps and postcards, train tickets and postage stamps, lists of books she's reading and souvenirs she's bought--all pasted in the margins of the journal. When Lydia disappears midway through the journey, her friend Christopher takes up the journal, using it first as a means of recording his search for her and then, increasingly, as a clue to her fate. A combination travelogue, mystery, and ghost story, The Tattooed Map is a mesmerizing, physically beautiful book. Each page is gloriously decorated with the kinds of fascinating flotsam and jetsam that travelers find cluttering their pockets and notebooks at the end of a trip, making The Tattooed Map a book you'll want to return to again and again.


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At one time, Lydia and Christopher were lovers as well as travel companions; now they are merely fellow travelers. While on a trip to Morocco, Lydia notices a small mark on her hand which begins to grow and spread in thin, tattooed lines that only she can see. Eventually, the marks reveal themselves to be a detailed map of an unknown land, and Lydia begins to understand th At one time, Lydia and Christopher were lovers as well as travel companions; now they are merely fellow travelers. While on a trip to Morocco, Lydia notices a small mark on her hand which begins to grow and spread in thin, tattooed lines that only she can see. Eventually, the marks reveal themselves to be a detailed map of an unknown land, and Lydia begins to understand that these marks, invisible to all but herself and a mysterious Moroccan man named Layesh, will lead her on a strange and perilous journey. The Tattooed Map is Lydia's journal of the days and weeks leading up to her disappearance. Each page contains her daily experiences--her growing shock and fear as the map unfolds itself, her deteriorating relationship with Christopher, her conversations with strangers--as well as the memorabilia she collects along the way: maps and postcards, train tickets and postage stamps, lists of books she's reading and souvenirs she's bought--all pasted in the margins of the journal. When Lydia disappears midway through the journey, her friend Christopher takes up the journal, using it first as a means of recording his search for her and then, increasingly, as a clue to her fate. A combination travelogue, mystery, and ghost story, The Tattooed Map is a mesmerizing, physically beautiful book. Each page is gloriously decorated with the kinds of fascinating flotsam and jetsam that travelers find cluttering their pockets and notebooks at the end of a trip, making The Tattooed Map a book you'll want to return to again and again.

30 review for The Tattooed Map

  1. 4 out of 5

    SarahC

    I believe I understood what the writer intended with this odd, offbeat story. That is, if it IS a metaphysical story of the beauty and experience of travel and how that is wrapped up with our emotional connections to each other. However, it didn't work for me because I couldn't connect with the characters. It seems sadly ordinary to compare this book with the Griffin and Sabine books, but how could you not? I love to experience books like this, however, Griffin and Sabine was a much better exper I believe I understood what the writer intended with this odd, offbeat story. That is, if it IS a metaphysical story of the beauty and experience of travel and how that is wrapped up with our emotional connections to each other. However, it didn't work for me because I couldn't connect with the characters. It seems sadly ordinary to compare this book with the Griffin and Sabine books, but how could you not? I love to experience books like this, however, Griffin and Sabine was a much better experience than The Tatooed Map.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jared Della Rocca

    Depending on the summation you give of this book, it could be classified as a sci-fi novel (appearance of a map tattooed on an arm), romance (travelers were once romantic before fading), or some weird variation thereof. But focusing on either of these plot narratives misses what is really the draw for this book---the graphics. The book is written as a journal narrative of the two travelers, and as they travel around, they add photos, notes, maps, etc. that you would expect to see in the journal Depending on the summation you give of this book, it could be classified as a sci-fi novel (appearance of a map tattooed on an arm), romance (travelers were once romantic before fading), or some weird variation thereof. But focusing on either of these plot narratives misses what is really the draw for this book---the graphics. The book is written as a journal narrative of the two travelers, and as they travel around, they add photos, notes, maps, etc. that you would expect to see in the journal of a frequent traveler. Little notes about good prices on a hotel, addresses to mail photos to, train schedules and the like fill the margins of the book. So as interesting as the book may be (and it wasn't that great, poorly finished) I think the author really took the time to make sure the method she used for telling the story fit appropriately. And that will help you enjoy what otherwise may be a somewhat bland novel.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    If you want to read a book about unlikable characters embroiled in inexplicable events that never reach resolution, this is the book for you. It does, however, look very good, which makes me wish the author had given the narrative the same level of care she devoted to the illustrations and graphic design.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mir

    The strong point of this little book is the descriptions of the places visited, but the author does the same thing better in her non-fiction work Trading in Memories: Travels Through a Scavenger's Favorite Places. Otherwise it is rather weak plot-wise and the multimedia novel is done better in Nick Bantock's Griffin & Sabine - An Extraordinary Correspondence. The strong point of this little book is the descriptions of the places visited, but the author does the same thing better in her non-fiction work Trading in Memories: Travels Through a Scavenger's Favorite Places. Otherwise it is rather weak plot-wise and the multimedia novel is done better in Nick Bantock's Griffin & Sabine - An Extraordinary Correspondence.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shivanee Ramlochan

    Excerpted from the full review: "Lovers of ephemera, of detailed dealings in flotsam and jetsam: The Tattooed Map will be a gold-starred destination on your literary sojourns. The novel is an archivist’s dream, bordered and fringed with annotations of addresses, grammatical conjugations in foreign tongues, pencilled-in calendars, rows of photograph details, sketches and schedules, of tattered post-its and sepia postcards. Nor does what would ‘normally’ be themed marginalia live merely in the marg Excerpted from the full review: "Lovers of ephemera, of detailed dealings in flotsam and jetsam: The Tattooed Map will be a gold-starred destination on your literary sojourns. The novel is an archivist’s dream, bordered and fringed with annotations of addresses, grammatical conjugations in foreign tongues, pencilled-in calendars, rows of photograph details, sketches and schedules, of tattered post-its and sepia postcards. Nor does what would ‘normally’ be themed marginalia live merely in the margins of Barbara Hodgson’s freshman offering--maps, leaflets, full-page illustrations unfurl and explode across the shared journal. That which is pictorally visual carries as much importance as what is scripted. Hodgson has achieved an enviable balance of drawing us in through text and art. (I urge the furrow-browed cynic not to think of the concept that fuels The Tattooed Map as a carefully contrived, convenient marriage between scrapbooking and Photoshop, but rather like the brainchild-project of an author and an artist on vacation. Then, marvel at the fact that Hodgson is both author and artist on this lavish endeavour.) I read the book in one fevered setting--to fully embrace this confessional rant/purloined pocketbook of a pair of lost and longing travellers, a first, urgent reading feels like the most authentic approach. The mysteries of Lydia’s branding with a growingly elaborate cartographic plan, and her subsequent disappearance, held me in their thrall. I was unprepared, however, for the emotionally satisfying journey of Christopher’s stilted, half-crazed forays into unearthing odd truths, in his quest to reclaim his missing friend. Somewhere along this sepia-studded, map-fragmented journey, my mind declared itself a willing and active participant in the baffling mystery at the core of The Tattooed Map. I hungered for an answer that would stymie and spellbind me, a plot machination of hefty and impressive weight." You can continue reading my full review of The Tattooed Map at Novel Niche.

  6. 4 out of 5

    J.T. Therrien

    Barbara Hodgson's first novel, The Tattooed Map, is a wonderful story in the style of Nick Bantock. It is published, not surprisingly, by Raincoast Books, the publishers of Bantock's Griffin and Sabine trilogy. Hodgson's The Tattooed Map is about a couple of Canadians who spend much of their time traveling the world. Lydia is a pack rat who talks to almost everyone she meets, takes photographs of people and places, and keeps track of everything in a notebook/scrapbook. She learns languages, studi Barbara Hodgson's first novel, The Tattooed Map, is a wonderful story in the style of Nick Bantock. It is published, not surprisingly, by Raincoast Books, the publishers of Bantock's Griffin and Sabine trilogy. Hodgson's The Tattooed Map is about a couple of Canadians who spend much of their time traveling the world. Lydia is a pack rat who talks to almost everyone she meets, takes photographs of people and places, and keeps track of everything in a notebook/scrapbook. She learns languages, studies maps of their destinations, and plans an itinerary. Christopher, a former boyfriend, is the only person in the world with whom she feels comfortable traveling. He is, of course, her direct opposite. He doesn't care so much about traveling to a particular destination as being in motion. He is neat and tidy, and could care less about local customs and languages. When Lydia mysteriously disappears in Casablanca, Christopher is left to search her scrapbook for any clues. By sifting through photographs, maps, diagrams and Lydia's accumulated detritus of receipts and stubs, Christopher learns more about himself than about Lydia. When he finally unravels the impossible nature of Lydia's disappearance, no one is more surprised than Christopher to discover the truth. Fans of Bantock's work will thoroughly enjoy Hodgson's The Tattooed Map.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Karith Amel

    One of the oddest books I've ever read. Strange, visually beautiful, intriguing, and utterly unsatisfying. But somehow also appropriately itself. More travel journal than novel, it is filled with luscious descriptions of Moroccan towns, and so much lovely Arabic in the margins. I wonder if I could get away with writing a book like this -- a book that is an unfinished love letter to travel, and mystery, and the potential of unfinished stories (and the unfinished journeys of which they tell). What One of the oddest books I've ever read. Strange, visually beautiful, intriguing, and utterly unsatisfying. But somehow also appropriately itself. More travel journal than novel, it is filled with luscious descriptions of Moroccan towns, and so much lovely Arabic in the margins. I wonder if I could get away with writing a book like this -- a book that is an unfinished love letter to travel, and mystery, and the potential of unfinished stories (and the unfinished journeys of which they tell). What would happen if we gave ourselves up to them? To mystery and madness and the strange unknown? Who's to say?

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    The artwork and cartography are beautiful. It is written as if we are vouers of a travel diary. I have to say I am a succour for these types of books. The characters develop and richen throughout the book,( which is a mystery/fantasy plot-line) but then the ending just leaves us as if there is a whole half a book still to be written. There journey has just begun... Perhaps that is the point!?

  9. 4 out of 5

    Serafina Sands

    Shortly after David's sister died, I found her copy of this book in my house. I think I would have found it eerily beautiful under any circumstances, but the author's coincidental dedication to David and the way it showed up like a message gave it particularly profound impact. I reread it periodically and find it entrancing every time. Shortly after David's sister died, I found her copy of this book in my house. I think I would have found it eerily beautiful under any circumstances, but the author's coincidental dedication to David and the way it showed up like a message gave it particularly profound impact. I reread it periodically and find it entrancing every time.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Emilee

    Odd and whimsical. A little bit travel journal, a little bit mystery, a little bit fantasy. The ending was a touch unsatisfying, but also opened up all kinds of possibilities for new stories. Very quick read.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Not as good as Griffin & Sabine, but a fun read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Hell

    The journal made me want to go to Morocco and get a map tattoo. What a luxurious book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    This is a strange little book written as a travel journal, first by Lydia then by Chris, as they tour around part of Europe and Northern Africa where events take a turn for the mysterious as Lydia disappears after writing of a map that gradually appears on her arm, a map that Chris does not see either in the flesh or in her pictures. Following her disappearance, the journal is taken up by Chris and talks of his search for her and his attempts at solving the mystery of her disappearance. While th This is a strange little book written as a travel journal, first by Lydia then by Chris, as they tour around part of Europe and Northern Africa where events take a turn for the mysterious as Lydia disappears after writing of a map that gradually appears on her arm, a map that Chris does not see either in the flesh or in her pictures. Following her disappearance, the journal is taken up by Chris and talks of his search for her and his attempts at solving the mystery of her disappearance. While the story is not fully fleshed out in terms of narration (why would it be, its a journal) it is beautifully supported by inserts, add-ins and extra notes of a kind that anyone who keeps a travel journal (or any journal) would be familiar with. This is an odd little book that I absolutely loved, despite the unresolved ending (something which normally annoys the hell out of me!).

  14. 4 out of 5

    Marne Wilson

    I have no idea how this book got on my to-read shelf in the first place, and I thought it was totally weird while I was reading it, but I keep thinking of people I need to tell to read it, so that must mean that I liked it. This is an example of the genre of book that pretends to be a diary that you have found, and you must puzzle over it to get the meeting. The surface-level story is of a couple traveling through North Africa together. I enjoyed the story very much on that level. It made me wan I have no idea how this book got on my to-read shelf in the first place, and I thought it was totally weird while I was reading it, but I keep thinking of people I need to tell to read it, so that must mean that I liked it. This is an example of the genre of book that pretends to be a diary that you have found, and you must puzzle over it to get the meeting. The surface-level story is of a couple traveling through North Africa together. I enjoyed the story very much on that level. It made me want to travel to all the places described. The fantasy/magic realism story of the tattooed map was much less successful, in my opinion. I would have liked the book just as much without it, to be honest.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tessa

    This book is quite beautiful, but the plot was weak. If the ending had been clever instead of open-ended it would have tied the entire book together, but instead it left the book very flat. It reminded me of Griffin and Sabine but not as good. I really enjoyed hearing about Chris from Lydia's point of view and then reading from his perspective--it was interesting. Still, kind of a lame book. This book is quite beautiful, but the plot was weak. If the ending had been clever instead of open-ended it would have tied the entire book together, but instead it left the book very flat. It reminded me of Griffin and Sabine but not as good. I really enjoyed hearing about Chris from Lydia's point of view and then reading from his perspective--it was interesting. Still, kind of a lame book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Licha

    What!? I just finished this snoozer of a book and what a disappointment. I kept waiting for the end to justify my trudging through such a boring book and NOTHING! I don’t understand what the purpose of this story was. We need to pay more attention to our partner? Is that what it was? Why so much snooze fest travelogue just to get this message across, IF that’s what the reader was supposed to take from this story? I feel like I missed something along the way. Visually, the book is beautiful. It is What!? I just finished this snoozer of a book and what a disappointment. I kept waiting for the end to justify my trudging through such a boring book and NOTHING! I don’t understand what the purpose of this story was. We need to pay more attention to our partner? Is that what it was? Why so much snooze fest travelogue just to get this message across, IF that’s what the reader was supposed to take from this story? I feel like I missed something along the way. Visually, the book is beautiful. It is written as a journal in the “altered book” style. The clippings within the book though don’t add much to the story. I would find it hard to believe that if someone were to keep a travel journey, they would stick just random newspaper clippings to decorate their book. The story is about a couple who used to live together but are now just friends. They travel for what seems to be a living, although it is never quite clarified exactly what either one does, other than the fact that Chris, the guy, buys furniture and oddities from the towns they visit for wealthy customers and that is where his source of income comes from. Chris and Lydia are complete opposites. Chris mostly seems to ignore her. During one of their stays at an inn, Lydia gets some flea bites (or so she believes) that start turning into a tattoo. The tattoo keeps growing into what looks like a map, all across her arm. And who is the mysterious man that seems to appear wherever Lydia is? Sounds quite mysterious, but it really isn’t. The mystery man never gets explained, the reason for the tattoo doesn’t either. Just a terrible book. I can’t even recommend it on the visuals alone, because as beautiful as the book is to look at, the graphics are nothing to brag about. Usually I will pass the book onto another reader, but I will skip on this one. I’d be terribly ashamed to put someone through such misery.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lori Anderson

    This book reminds me a lot of the "Griffin and Sabine" books, what with its beautiful drawings, maps, photographs, and icons all over the thick, glossy white pages. The story even has a twist that sucks you in and captivates your imagination. The book relates the story of Christopher and Lydia, once lovers but now comfortable and compatible traveling companions. Both are well-versed at obscure travel, travel that doesn't include a Hyatt or Hilton at the end of the trail, and this book takes us th This book reminds me a lot of the "Griffin and Sabine" books, what with its beautiful drawings, maps, photographs, and icons all over the thick, glossy white pages. The story even has a twist that sucks you in and captivates your imagination. The book relates the story of Christopher and Lydia, once lovers but now comfortable and compatible traveling companions. Both are well-versed at obscure travel, travel that doesn't include a Hyatt or Hilton at the end of the trail, and this book takes us through Northern Africa to Morocco. The book is Lydia's journal, chronicling her travels, her deteriorating relationship with Chris, and a strange tattoo that appears and grows upon her hand -- invisible only to her and a mysterious man she meets in a cafe. I won't tell you any more, because the ending was, to me, the best part. For some, it may not end with enough finality, but I think it ends on the perfect note for those of us who are travelers not just on real soil, but in spirit and heart. Lori Anderson My Blog

  18. 5 out of 5

    Roland Volz

    Not sure what I expected from this novel. I don't usually read the more literary fiction because it doesn't appeal to me, but this one is probably closest to speculative fiction anyway. The story is somewhat spoiled from the back cover. If you hoped to learn more about what happens to the protagonists beyond the back cover, you will be sorely disappointed. There are plenty of hints of possibility, but that's it. I liked it, but I didn't love it. I think it could have used one or two more passes th Not sure what I expected from this novel. I don't usually read the more literary fiction because it doesn't appeal to me, but this one is probably closest to speculative fiction anyway. The story is somewhat spoiled from the back cover. If you hoped to learn more about what happens to the protagonists beyond the back cover, you will be sorely disappointed. There are plenty of hints of possibility, but that's it. I liked it, but I didn't love it. I think it could have used one or two more passes through the editor/author process. The experience of reading the story is greatly enhanced by the marginalia: photos, maps, notations, and other ephemera designed to make the book look more like a person's journal. In fact, I originally rated it higher, until I considered the story absent the marginalia. By itself, it's not as strong.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    Perhaps I read The Tattooed Map too fast, but the travel journal format, the insistent vagueness, the endlessly unanswered questions, and an ending that is too similar to Griffin and Sabine felt more gimmicky to me than clever or enchanting. The book didn't make much sense (and let me emphasize that as an avid fantasy reader, I delight in suspending my disbelief), and I finished it disappointed, but not totally bereft. I did come away with a stirred sense of adventure and the feeling that I had Perhaps I read The Tattooed Map too fast, but the travel journal format, the insistent vagueness, the endlessly unanswered questions, and an ending that is too similar to Griffin and Sabine felt more gimmicky to me than clever or enchanting. The book didn't make much sense (and let me emphasize that as an avid fantasy reader, I delight in suspending my disbelief), and I finished it disappointed, but not totally bereft. I did come away with a stirred sense of adventure and the feeling that I had been on a brief armchair journey, and sometimes that is more important than a satisfying resolution or a plot that makes sense.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rosminah

    I went through my Sabine and Griffin phase in the mid-90s. The tattooed map is a similar srotytelling genre that combines ephemera with a mysterious storyline and a leap of faith. This book, in particular, appealed to my senses because I was already involved in some fieldwork in Moorish Spain and Morocco. In fact, it's what helped solidify that I would complete some of my studies in Morocco. No spoilers, other than what I've already written, but I can say the twist gave me goosebumps. Even the s I went through my Sabine and Griffin phase in the mid-90s. The tattooed map is a similar srotytelling genre that combines ephemera with a mysterious storyline and a leap of faith. This book, in particular, appealed to my senses because I was already involved in some fieldwork in Moorish Spain and Morocco. In fact, it's what helped solidify that I would complete some of my studies in Morocco. No spoilers, other than what I've already written, but I can say the twist gave me goosebumps. Even the second time reading it. It pulls at the heartstrings of those suffering from wanderlust.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jenessa

    I picked this book up at "A Novel Idea" bookstore in Lincoln, Nebraska. I had no idea what it was about and I really enjoyed not knowing anything going into it. The book is written as a journal. Lydia, the journal writer, has an incredible talent for journaling. As her and her friend Chris travel from London towards Morocco, she keeps mementoes, maps, notes, and glues them to the journal pages. The book is not only beautiful to look at but the story is also compelling. I picked this book up at "A Novel Idea" bookstore in Lincoln, Nebraska. I had no idea what it was about and I really enjoyed not knowing anything going into it. The book is written as a journal. Lydia, the journal writer, has an incredible talent for journaling. As her and her friend Chris travel from London towards Morocco, she keeps mementoes, maps, notes, and glues them to the journal pages. The book is not only beautiful to look at but the story is also compelling.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Leslea

    Absolutely brilliant!!! Love this kind of book, narration and interesting photos, sketches etc... Great story of a woman and her male travelling partner touring with a tattooed map slowly forming on her hand and creeping up her arm - she eventually disappears leaving her journal behind and her companion trying to find her and decipher all her journal entries, photos etc... Loved it!!!

  23. 4 out of 5

    DoctorM

    A lovely enigmatic illustrated tale... Hodgson's use of marginalia and found illustrations is wonderful. A novel that's in some ways in the same tradition as "The Sheltering Sky", though far more dream-like and haunting. A lovely enigmatic illustrated tale... Hodgson's use of marginalia and found illustrations is wonderful. A novel that's in some ways in the same tradition as "The Sheltering Sky", though far more dream-like and haunting.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    A man and woman travel to Morocco. The woman keeps a diary. She begins to see that a map is appearing on her hand. She disappears. The man tries to find her. Much cooler than I’m describing here, with lots of maps and bus ticket stubs and drawings and side notes.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Hermien

    Loved the illustrations.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    I started this book in late 2012, but lost interest due to some family issues-I had recently found it again, and as I had some time on my hands I sat down to really dig into it. My rating? In one word-Meh. Note-This is an entertainingly weird book. The story is beautifully written, with richly detailed descriptions of the various cities and people of Morocco and Tunisia. Plus, the book is wonderfully fleshed out with maps of the various cities the characters visit, as well as old photos and vinta I started this book in late 2012, but lost interest due to some family issues-I had recently found it again, and as I had some time on my hands I sat down to really dig into it. My rating? In one word-Meh. Note-This is an entertainingly weird book. The story is beautifully written, with richly detailed descriptions of the various cities and people of Morocco and Tunisia. Plus, the book is wonderfully fleshed out with maps of the various cities the characters visit, as well as old photos and vintage art from North Africa. Barbara Hodgson gave me the sense that I was in the Souk in Fes, buying honeyed dates amidst a sea of people; or that I was riding an antique train, taking in the atmosphere whilst enjoying tea, fruit and crumpets. The main characters were also very well detailed. This is, sadly, where the book begins to break down as well. The two main gripes I have with this book are the characters and the plot (two pieces of a story that should be the main anchor points for a great novel). They are, in short-Where is the character development, and what did it all mean in the end? Now don't get me wrong-I LOVE weird novels. 'House of Leaves' and 'Anansi Boys' are two of my favorite stories, as well as anything by H.P. Lovecraft or Neil Gaiman. The main difference between those two seminal works of literal art and 'Tattooed Map' are twofold: a.) 'House of Leaves' and 'Anansi Boys' have characters that develop over time. 'Tattooed Map' does not. b). Both 'House of Leaves' and 'Anansi Boys' have complete, fully realized plots. 'Tattooed Map' doesn't. (Note-I didn’t say fully UNDERSTOOD plots. 'House of Leaves' still has me confused as to its ending.) Both the main characters in 'Tattooed Map' (hereafter abbreviated TM) are cookie-cutter, to say the least. Lydia is a 'traveller', never putting down roots anywhere. She is happy-go-lucky, footloose and fancy free. Her traveling companion (and ex-lover), Christopher, is a very solid individual, purchasing antiques and exotic items for clients around the world. There is no true interaction between them, though. They bicker, they interact with the locals, then... Nothing. Why are they traveling together? Why are they even friends? Secondly, (mild spoiler follows) after Lydia disappears Chris searches for two weeks, then gives up and goes home. However he is so enamored with finding her that he goes to a local library, behind to read up on Morocco, Tunisia and North Africa, THEN has a realization and GOES BACK to the area. Why didn’t he just stay and continue to look for her? He has no job to go home to-his job is anywhere he is at (as is described in the book). So why leave? Character problems mesh with the larger (and more important, IMHO) problem with this novel-The plot was not fully realized, or rather not complete. The story just... Ends, like the television shows 'Lost' and 'Twin Peaks'. None of the major plot points are wrapped up-Or even explained! What is the nature of the aforementioned tattooed map? How do the characters receive it? Does it give them special abilities, or is it a curse? Does Christopher find Lydia again? (Mild spoiler) Who in the hell was the guy who talked to both of them after they had received the map? Why is this story..?! Final judgment: If you're looking for a novel to wile away some time and entertain you with a beautiful writing style and illustrations, please give this book a gander. However, go in with the idea that you're reading this to enjoy the beauty of the book, NOT the story. Do not pick this up if you want a satisfying, complete story from beginning to end. 3/5

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Kat

    Written as fictional travel journal to Morocco, The Tattooed Map is a visually remarkable novel that evokes the spirit of The Griffin & Sabine Trilogy. The detailed, primary documents (library cards, colorful stamps, snippets of notes written in French, Arabic and English) that grace the pages, along with the mysterious connections between characters across time, are delightful. But this book failed to hook me in like the Griffin & Sabine Trilogy. The beginning of the book reads like a long intro Written as fictional travel journal to Morocco, The Tattooed Map is a visually remarkable novel that evokes the spirit of The Griffin & Sabine Trilogy. The detailed, primary documents (library cards, colorful stamps, snippets of notes written in French, Arabic and English) that grace the pages, along with the mysterious connections between characters across time, are delightful. But this book failed to hook me in like the Griffin & Sabine Trilogy. The beginning of the book reads like a long introduction, lacking tension and plot. Conflict and intrigue was introduced very late in the timeline, the premise of the mystery difficult to believe, and the abrupt ending made me wonder if the author was in a rush to finish. The visual aspects of this book are engaging, but the writing prosaic.

  28. 5 out of 5

    PatrickCS

    I initially intended to give 3 stars but can't quite swing it. This book gets a BIG meh from me. The setting of Morocco (especially when combined with the pretty but otherwise irrelevant artwork) is really atmospheric and the premise and format are interesting, but none of it really works at all. The meat of the story takes far too long to develop into anything worthwhile, and unfortunately this one follows the trend of ending right when there's promise of some actual development. It's as if the I initially intended to give 3 stars but can't quite swing it. This book gets a BIG meh from me. The setting of Morocco (especially when combined with the pretty but otherwise irrelevant artwork) is really atmospheric and the premise and format are interesting, but none of it really works at all. The meat of the story takes far too long to develop into anything worthwhile, and unfortunately this one follows the trend of ending right when there's promise of some actual development. It's as if the author had no idea what to do with the third act of the story so she removed it entirely. The illustrations - maps, scraps of paper, torn-out newspaper articles, faded photographs, scribbled notes about prices and translations and contents of various rolls of film, etc - they're neat, but none of them actually add much to the story. As mentioned, they help construct a certain atmosphere, and in that sense they work, but it would be great if the papers and items shown in the sidebars were actually part of the story rather than just set dressing. What good is the inclusion of a newspaper article if it's in French and torn down the middle, partially obscured by another document placed over top? Wouldn't it be better if these items fleshed out the world that this story takes place in? Even something as simple as a food and drink menu from one of the cafes the characters visit would help. I'm curious to read more from Hodgson because I'm aware this is her first book - maybe she honed her craft further on down the line. Unfortunately, the more of these 'illuminated' epistolary books I read, the more I'm coming to the conclusion that this genre consists almost entirely of subpar stories propped up by gimmicky attempts to expand on the story using photos/letters/etc.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gaby Meares

    This book is a lovely item in it's own right. Hodgson has used her skills in design to create a visually lovely book. It is as if you are reading the narrator's very own diary, illustrated with her photos, lists and ephemera collected on her trip through Morocco. Her descriptions of the sights and sounds of her journey are visceral and make the reader wish they could transport themselves to these exotic places. The story is quite strange, and I'm not sure the ending is successful, however, the j This book is a lovely item in it's own right. Hodgson has used her skills in design to create a visually lovely book. It is as if you are reading the narrator's very own diary, illustrated with her photos, lists and ephemera collected on her trip through Morocco. Her descriptions of the sights and sounds of her journey are visceral and make the reader wish they could transport themselves to these exotic places. The story is quite strange, and I'm not sure the ending is successful, however, the journey is entrancing!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Hernandez

    This should be a quick read, unless, like me, you are delighted by every detail, note, picture, map, and other marginal decoration appearing in this "journal" of the fictional Lydia, trying, like her travel companion Christopher to solve the mystery. Having been to Morocco twice, I found the descriptions of the people, places, foods, and all pleasantly vivid. The story will leave you thinking and questioning the nature of relationships, wanderlust, and life's purpose. This should be a quick read, unless, like me, you are delighted by every detail, note, picture, map, and other marginal decoration appearing in this "journal" of the fictional Lydia, trying, like her travel companion Christopher to solve the mystery. Having been to Morocco twice, I found the descriptions of the people, places, foods, and all pleasantly vivid. The story will leave you thinking and questioning the nature of relationships, wanderlust, and life's purpose.

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