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Book Review: ‘Girl Unknown’ by Karen Perry

Hello everyone and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all doing well. Today I’m going to be posting my review of Karen Perry’s brilliant novel ‘Girl Unknown’. I actually typed out this review about a month ago, but wanted to post some Christmassy/end of 2016 posts first. Just to let you all know, there’s a few reviews I’d written towards the end of 2016 that I have yet to post, so keep your eyes out for more reviews on my blog! So, here goes…



‘Girl Unknown’ was released on 1st December 2016, written by the duo Karen Perry (Paul Perry and Karen Gillece), who both live in Ireland. This is the duos third book together, after ‘The Boy That Never Was’ and ‘Only We Know’. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this – thanks so much to Sarah from Penguin Random House!

‘Girl Unknown’ has been described as “one of the most richly satisfying psychological thrillers of 2016” (The Irish Independent) and “This story of psychological attrition builds to an incredibly tense finale – before delivering an amazing final twist” (Sunday Mirror).

‘Girl Unknown’ is one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read for a long time. It’s got everything you could want from a psychological thriller – tension, excellently-executed characters, mystery, and incredible plot twists! It essentially follows the story of David and Caroline, who are thrown a curveball when Zoe turns up to David’s office one day and tells him he is her father. They try to integrate Zoe into the family gradually, but there is much more to Zoe lurking beneath the surface, and the family struggle to cope with the difficulties she causes them.

The narrative switches in perspectives between Caroline and David throughout. Both perspectives are equally important and interesting, as we see how both characters struggle with the problem that is Zoe. Personally, I was able to relate to Caroline much more as a character, and I felt that sometimes David was very frustrating.

David is a university lecturer of History. He is very intelligent and is passionate about History, and wishes to climb up the career ladder and impress those who are higher than him. But he’s also very caring towards his students; leaving his office door open so that students can come and visit him to help with any struggles they may be having in regards to university work. He loves his wife Caroline and wants to protect his family as much as possible, but when Zoe comes along he is drawn to her, often taking her side instead of Caroline’s. At first, David is very naïve, essentially believing that Zoe is an angel who can do nothing wrong – but as readers, we know this is definitely not the case. He slowly comes to his senses, but by then is it too late?

Caroline, on the other hand, sees Zoe for who she truly is almost immediately. Caroline has just returned to her job at an advertising agency, which she had left when her son Robbie was born. Upon first meeting Zoe, her and Caroline really do not get along, and Caroline feels that Zoe is secretive and strange. There’s something about her that she doesn’t like. Zoe begins to do things that make Caroline uncomfortable or upset, but her husband David often doesn’t believe her. I really warmed to Caroline and at times I felt very sympathetic towards her, feeling pity for the ways she was being treated.

Zoe is not the character you expect her to be. She’s not this sweet, angelic figure that she makes herself out to be in the beginning. She’s cunning and intelligent; and perhaps even has the potential to be dangerous. She poses a threat for Caroline and the family. She has many individual issues that she drags with her into this family life, threatening to split their tight-knit family apart. Holly (the other daughter) never warms to her, but Robbie (the son) does…in a way I definitely did not expect.

This is essentially a story about what happens when you don’t follow your instincts, and what happens when a dangerous outsider enters a close family unit. It’s a tale about truth and lies – as we discover with Zoe, there can be a lot more to a person that first meets the eye. It’s a novel full of secrets and mystery, as a young girl tests all of the family members’ relationships, and explores what people are truly capable of.

The shocking climax of the story occurs when the family all go on holiday to France. For the final part of the story (Part Three), I was literally on the edge of my seat. There are so many twists and turns, I almost couldn’t cope! There’s a really shocking event, resulting in their lives all being changed forever. I couldn’t believe it! Such a good twist. And right at the end of the story, again the authors throw a new curveball – an astounding revelation! The story was pretty slow going at some parts, but the finale was just exceptional, and I couldn’t put the book down.

Overall, this was a really good read. I enjoyed every minute of it, and the events definitely didn’t go where I was expecting them to go! If you like psychological thrillers, I’d highly recommend that you read this book. Parts of it, I’m not going to lie, are a little bit strange, and I wondered if they were really necessary. But as a whole, I really enjoyed the book, and it was very cleverly written. I’ll definitely be reading more from Karen Perry in the future!





Happy reading 🙂

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