Wednesday 24 April 2019

Book Review: Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

Skin DeepSkin Deep by Liz Nugent
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Skin Deep isn’t what I expected. It’s billed as a psychological thriller and in my view it isn’t. I’ll explain why in a moment.

Firstly, I’ll give my views on what it IS. It’s the dramatic tale of a woman’s life from a damaged childhood on a remote island, through tragedy and trauma to middle age. The narrative is driven by one woman, Delia, focusing on her family and the impact she has on the lives of others she touches during her life’s journey. It’s about survival and the lengths Delia will go to in order to protect herself. It’s about character and we get to know the many complicated and contradictory layers of Delia’s personality as she moves from place to place, country to country, trying to escape her past and reinvent herself in her new setting.

There’s a dead body, but this only plays a small part at the beginning, to hook in the reader, re-appearing within the context of the story at the very end. The novel is extremely gripping, it’s full of drama.

For those interested in why it isn’t a psychological thriller, in my opinion, a psych thriller usually involves an unreliable narrator of some kind – here, Delia is unlikeable, but at no point in the story are we misled by her narrative. Or anyone else’s. Delia pretty much tells it straight, in terms that are hard-edged and always without emotion. There’s no play on the anxiety of a victim. Unlike a psych thriller, there are no attempts to create tension in the audience, to create dissonance between what the reader ‘knows’ and what the character hasn’t yet worked out. Yet, it IS a page-turner - because Delia’s life is fraught and we watch her stagger from one disastrous situation to another. If you like Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley character, you’ll no doubt enjoy this.
Highly recommended!

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Thursday 11 April 2019

Mini Book Review: The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

The Bones of YouThe Bones of You by Debbie Howells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautiful, tender, touching, deviant, harrowing murder mystery! Love a psychological thriller that can be savoured because the quality of the language is so good, rather than 'raced through' because the plot alone holds a book together. Highly recommended.

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