Girl Unknown [review]

Title: Girl Unknown
Author: Karen Perry
Publisher: Penguin, Michael Joseph


‘I think you might be my father . . .’
When first-year student Zoë Barry walks into Professor David Connolly’s office and tentatively says these words, he is left reeling. But it is the lives of his family – particularly his wife Caroline – which are turned upside down by the arrival of this stranger.
A daughter, a sister, a friend . . . an enemy?
Though no one knows quite who Zoë is, she is soon entangled in their lives. Yet her stories don’t ring true and Caroline is determined to learn if the girl is the unlucky innocent she claims to be or someone with a far darker agenda.
A deadly cuckoo in the nest . . .Because by letting Zoë in, David and Caroline aren’t just leaving themselves vulnerable. They’re risking the most precious thing in the world – the lives of their children…

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[My Review]

I started reading Girl Unknown without knowing that much about the novel, but from pretty much the beginning I was hooked!
Zoe, a student at the university that husband and father of two David lectures at, walks into his office and tells him that he is her father, from a relationship of his a long time ago. From this point on, both David and his wife Caroline’s lives completely change – and, at least for Caroline anyway, not for the better! Zoe is not all that she seems, and she behaves very differently depending on who she is around. Her behaviour towards Caroline means that Caroline is not at all fond of Zoe, and this in turn begins to wear away at Caroline and David’s relationship as David feels like she’s being unnecessarily unwelcoming and cold towards Zoe.
You really get a sense of Caroline’s desperation, because the story is told from both David and Caroline’s perspective. This way the reader can see how and why they feel the way they do, meaning you know a lot more than either of those two characters do, who can only really understand their own points of view! However, whilst I felt really sorry for Caroline, I still empathised with David a little – in his mind he was just trying to make up for lost time with his long-lost daughter, after all. There are, though, plenty of times when David behaves like a real idiot – he should really trust and support his wife. No doubt this in itself will divide people – who should come first: your wife or (someone claiming to be) your daughter?
There are times when the novel is a little far-fetched perhaps, but it makes for great entertaining, and I liked that David DID doubt Zoe a bit at some points, when he had cause to. He wasn’t made out to be completely blind to everything, which made him a far more convincing and realistic character.
The story slowly builds as Zoe’s infiltration of the family continues, and things become more and more desperate (and twisted!). I really enjoyed reading Girl Unknown from start to finish, and found myself completely wrapped up in it, finishing reading it really quickly. It’s well written and intriguing, and I am looking forward to reading more from this duo writing as Karen Perry (I have also read and hugely enjoyed Only We Know; read my review of it here).
Definitely recommended!

[Rating: 4/5]

* Many thanks to Penguin – Michael Joseph for providing a copy of this book, on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review *

Girl Unknown will be published in the UK on 1 December 2016.


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