Review: Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

Skin Deep by Liz Nugent


The sinister new novel from the No 1 bestselling author of Unravelling Oliver and Richard and Judy Book Club pick Lying in Wait.

‘Once I had cleared the bottles away and washed the blood off the floor, I needed to get out of the flat.’

Cordelia Russell has been living on the Côte d’Azur for ten years, posing as a posh English woman fallen on hard times. But her luck is running out. Desperate to escape her grotty flat and grim reality, Cordelia spends a night at a glittering party. Surrounded by the young, beautiful and privileged she feels her age and her poverty. As dawn breaks she stumbles home through the back streets. Even before she opens her door she can hear the flies buzzing. It hasn’t taken long for the corpse in her bedroom to commence decomposing …

Liz Nugent’s novel is the dark, twisted and shocking story of what takes Cordelia from an island childhood in Ireland to ruins in Nice.


My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

I’m at a bit of a loss what to say about this book as I’m not entirely sure what I thought about it. There were moments I loved but there were probably more where I felt a bit more meh and reading it became a struggle.

It’s possible I was just too excited about it and my expectations were too high. I absolutely loved Nugent’s previous book Lying In Wait so had really high hopes for this. It turned out however to be a very different type of read than I was anticipating.

It does begin with yet another fantastic opening line and a scene that draws you right into the action and it is a brilliant character study of a not very nice character but it just didn’t grab me the way I wanted it to.

Delia, the main character, whose story we learn over the course of the novel is certainly not likeable but for me wasn’t quite horrible or twisted enough for me to care about and I’m afraid it’s the characters who make or break a book for me. I don’t have to like them, in fact often it’s the nasty ones that intrigue me the most, but there has to be something about them that I either love or hate. Delia shows so little emotion and cares about so little that I found myself reflecting that back on the story.

There were moments and certain characters which intrigued me but as the story covers some 40+ years these were fairly brief and viewed through Delia’s uncaring eye.

Her perspective makes up the majority of the story but there are a few pages here or there from a different pov which give you their thoughts and feelings. These did bring additional insights but also felt quite factual and unemotional to me so I never really connected to those characters either.

What I did love however were Delia’s recollections of the stories her Daddy told her about the island she grows up on. It’s dark and violent folklore and really adds another element to the story. The superstitious and insular nature of such a small town community really fascinated me.

The pace of this story is slow and I can’t say I found it particularly exciting but the writing is good and the characterization brilliant.

I think this was just a case of not the right book for me or possibly just not the right book for when I read it. It is memorable for main character Delia and I think if you like a dark, cold and manipulative character whose actions are often shocking you’ll love this.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.

13 thoughts on “Review: Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

  1. Nice review!
    it took me a while to finish this one… i think mainly because it was indeed really slow
    i did enjoy it quite a lot though. i think it was good that i dragged it out. if i tried to read it in 2 days (as i usually do), i think it would have overwhelmed me

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks
      Maybe, reading it too quickly is where I went wrong, or possibly I was just in the wrong frame of mind. I felt like parts were supposed to be shocking but they never really shocked me. I did enjoy a lot of it, it just didn’t wow me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Shame this got a bit meh at times and that this didn’t quite live upto your expectations. It’s a pity it felt slow, but it’s also understandable that it might not have been the right book for you/the right timing (been there) great review though!

    Liked by 1 person

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