I thought I had my top reads of 2018 post finally sorted, but then along came Skin Deep by Liz Nugent who has well and truly put a spanner in the works. Read on for my thoughts but as always here’s the book description first…..
It is not difficult to pretend to be somebody else. I could probably have been an actress. Isn’t that what I’ve been doing for most of my life?’
Cordelia Russell has been living on the French Riviera for twenty-five years, passing herself off as an English socialite. But her luck, and the kindness of strangers, have run out.
The arrival of a visitor from her distant past shocks Cordelia. She reacts violently to the intrusion and flees her flat to spend a drunken night at a glittering party. As dawn breaks she stumbles home through the back streets. Even before she opens her door she can hear the flies buzzing. She did not expect the corpse inside to start decomposing quite so quickly . . .
Liz Nugent has been on my “must read authors” list for a while now, and after reading the book description for Skin Deep I knew I had to read it “sooner rather than later” and I’m so glad I did, what an utterly compelling and thrilling read it turned out to be. This has to be one of the darkest and most chilling psychological thrillers I’ve read this year, and I mean it. There’s so much to love about this book, with themes of dishonesty and abandonment at its core, it’s a story that shocks and yet compels the reader onwards.
“beauty is only skin–deep”, while someone may be beautiful on the outside, when you scratch below the surface, there lies an ugliness that far outshines a beautiful face, and this sums up Cordelia’s character perfectly. Cordelia has to be one of the most damaged, chilling and unlikable characters I have ever come across in the pages of a book, and yet I was mesmerised by her story. The author has done a magnificent job in creating such a character, she’s memorable (for all the wrong reasons), intriguing and yet there’s something so chilling about her whilst reading this book I had a constant feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach.
Skin deep is set between the desolate Irish Island of Iniscran surrounded in myths and legends and the French Riviera with all its glamour and wealth. From Cordelia’s childhood on the island to adulthood there is one constant in her life, her ability to leave a trail of destruction, heartbreak and misery in her wake. As the reader you learn more about Cordelia’s childhood and her dysfunctional family, her father particularly is a very troubled soul to say the least. Cordelia has so many layers, her character is complex beyond belief, the lengths she will go to for her own gain make her a character I won’t forget anytime soon.
The chapters told from her “victims” POV were the ones I found the most intriguing, Cordelia is able to move forward without a second thought, but her victims are left devastated, some unable to put their fractured life’s back together, It’s these chapters that make any sympathy for Cordelia disappear in a flash. Liz Nugent has written a superb psychological thriller, the settings, the characters, the pace and the style of writing are perfectly balanced, and Skin Deep sits firmly one of my top reads of 2018. Highly recommended
This is going to come as no surprise but I’m giving Skin Deep the very prestigious Gold Star Award Rating. It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and kept me in its grips until I reached the very last page.
- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Ireland (5 April 2018)