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Skin Deep

Liz Nugent

Delia O'Flaherty is as wild, remote and dangerous as her island home off the west coast of Ireland. Her adoring father tells her that one day she will be the Queen of Inishcrann.

However, tragedy leaves Delia alone in the world, to make her way relying on her wits and her rare beauty. But Delia's beauty is deceptive - as anyone who cares about her eventually finds out.

What is the truth behind Delia's tragic past? And what happens when a face from that past turns up on her doorstep?


Liz Nugent’s heroine is impossible to like. Delia Russell is selfish, manipulative, self-indulgent, an inveterate liar, uncaring even of her child. Yet somehow Nugent’s absorbing, beautifully written tale turns Delia into an interesting, almost sympathetic character. Her childhood is spent on a tiny Irish island, her father is besotted by her. She realises early that she’s very beautiful. Most of her family die in a fire and there follows, among many other reversals, an unwanted pregnancy, loss of money and drug addiction. She ends up living a pretend life in Nice. There’s a death. Nugent has won several awards in her native Ireland. Skin Deep deserves to be her breakthrough in Britain.

Marcel Berlins -The Times UK

'Liz Nugent’s Skin Deep (Penguin) is the perfect holiday read for those who like their escapism on the darker side. If Patricia Highsmith were Irish she might well have come up with this tale of a scarred woman who taints all she touches while remaining as charismatic as she is enigmatic.’ 

Ian Rankin

'Just finished SKIN DEEP by @lizzienugent. Superb thriller. Chilling, beautifully-written, shocking, twisty, intelligent, GRIPPING. Hints of Muriel Spark, Gillian Flynn, Patricia Highsmith. Absolutely LOVED IT.’

Will Dean

'Skin Deep is utterly compelling...Nugent displays to the full her storytelling gifts’

RTE Guide

'Skin Deep is a guilty rush of a novel…it’s a blast. The author of Unravelling Oliver and Lying in Wait has done it again. Priority reading.'

Nadine O’Regan, Sunday Business Post

'Liz Nugent’s extraordinary, incendiary new novel….What a magnificent dark monster of a book Skin Deep is.’

Irish Times

‘Monumentally good. Liz Nugent is a beautiful writer and among the very best storytellers in the world.’

Donal Ryan

‘I loved, loved, loved Skin Deep - the compassion of it, the beauty of the language, how glamour and horror intersect, how the tension twists tighter and tighter and is brilliantly done’

Marian Keyes

‘The finest psychological thriller writer currently at work - no one gets under the skin of monstrous characters like she does’

Tammy Cohen

‘Bloody brilliant! ’

Dense Mina

‘A triumph, from first page to last!’

Sarah Hilary

‘Dazzling…chilling, mesmerising and, ultimately, devastating. Pure storytelling genius.’

Mark Edwards

‘Wow! I am lost in admiration - Liz Nugent's storytelling is a wonderful feat of imagination, totally gripping, with a fascinating character at its heart’

Sabine Durrant

‘Her darkest book yet - a compelling one-sitting read’

Sinéad Crowley

‘Dark, brutal and brilliant’

Colette McBeth

‘Utterly gripping, fast paced, and featuring my favourite sociopathic female character since Lady Macbeth ’

Louise O'Neill

She's not who you think she is ...

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