Oh, I am both delighted and terribly sad to publish my review today. It means I have finished Skin Deep and believe me I would have stayed in Liz Nugent’s dark and sick latest novel forever!
I would like to thank Penguin UK and the delightful Georgia for sending me a copy of this novel in exchange for a review during the blog tour!
Title: Skin Deep
Author: Liz Nugent
Date of publication: 15 November 2018
Publisher: Penguin UK
Number of pages: 372
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…
“Beauty is only skin deep … Ugly cuts to the bone”
Isn’t this one of the most intense and catching taglines ever? Those words haunted me as I flew through this beautifully cruel, raw and shiver-inducing novel.
No serial killers, no big fat obvious monster. Just shadows hiding in skins too small for them and their ambitions.
I am being extremely vague here, aren’t I? Well, I’m sorry to say this is on purpose! Because Skin Deep is like candy. It is no fun to grab a lollipop that has been used, right? Who in their right mind would do this? (and why did this image come to me?!) I MUST thank the team at Penguin for coming up with an intriguing blurb that doesn’t spoil anything about what Skin Deep is made of. In fact, the synopsis had me wondering what I was getting into. Decomposing corpses? I know how to deal with this. But there is so much more to the story that my brain hasn’t recovered from such a twisted character-driven tale yet.
Cordelia Russell (the fact her last name is the English version of mine scared the hell out of me, I’ll be honest!) is no ordinary main character. She is obsession material. See, I am a protagonist lover. I want to root for them, I want to protect them, I want to see them grow and evolve. I usually get attached to at least one main character and it is an important element of the level of enjoyment I take from a read. But this time. Oh, this time everything was different.
This time, I turned into a voyeur, a psychologist, a judging passer-by, feasting on a horrendously addictive narrative which doesn’t shy away from revealing the most secret thoughts of a woman. Cordelia managed to cast a spell on me from the pages she was imprisoned in. I was fascinated by this woman throughout the entire novel. Yet, I couldn’t really paint her to you. I have a million adjectives for her, but none would actually do her justice. You have to meet her to understand. Now I’ll believe it when they say external beauty can only hide so much…
Adored by her father from the day she was born, little Cordelia quickly learned how to get her way. Do I believe that people can be rotten from an early age? I don’t know. But surely, there was something wrong from the start. Beauty comes with a price, and for Cordelia, it means a life of appearances. Not that she cared much about it. With every page, Liz Nugent pulled on Cordelia’s skin, and with every page, I couldn’t wait to see when it would crack.
How long can you be selfish? Can we turn into someone else a million times? Can we really live without creating bonds with others? Isn’t this what we are on earth for? How can someone deny the most important people in their life the slightest gratitude or even respect?
Now you really are wondering what I am talking about, right? GOOD!
During 372 pages, the author scratches at the surface, bit by bit, until she reaches the bone, revealing the core of an islander right out from a long-lost tale. I truly believe Cordelia belongs to another time, another place. But for each action taken, for each blow sent, karma condemns and sentences. A decomposing body in a flat on the Riviera is the price to pay for a lifetime of coldness. Or am I being too harsh? After all, Cordelia’s biggest issue is that she doesn’t fit in today’s expectations of a woman. Well, that and a dead body.
Rather than getting a one-dimensional character that is easily put in a box, we are given a mirror ball. Oh, I loved this game of trying to fit Cordelia’s shoes. Loved, adored, drank every drip of this delicious but dangerous game, safely sitting on my couch. One sitting is all it took!
I said earlier that there was no monster in this novel. I lied. I loved to hate Cordelia. Does this make me a monster? I don’t care!
Liz Nugent doesn’t give you a bone to play with, she creates an entire world filled with familiar faces, elements, pieces of life, and she shatters them with something out-of-this-world. An unnatural being drawn by a razor-sharp writing style that I couldn’t get enough of.
Skin Deep is a dark mystery when you open it and turns into a magnificent and gripping novel you won’t be able to forget!
The paperback is out tomorrow! Here’s the link to your next best read! Amazon
Don’t forget to check the rest of the tour with brilliant bloggers discussing this fantastic novel!
Unravelling Oliver and Lying in Wait have both been number 1 bestselling and award-winning novels.
In October 2017, Liz won the Irish Tatler Woman of the Year Award in Literature.