Girl Unknown by Karen Perry | Review

Posted February 16, 2018 by Asheley in review / 1 Comment

Girl Unknown by Karen Perry
Girl Unknown by Karen Perry | ReviewGirl Unknown by Karen Perry
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on February 6, 2018
Pages: 304
Source: the publisher
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'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 . . .

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Girl Unknown by Karen Perry is told by both Caroline and David, a married couple, who are working through something traumatic that happened in their marriage before the book began. Their marriage is fractured, but not entirely broken. David and Caroline would probably say they have a good life with their jobs and their kids…until Zoe shows up in David’s office, claiming to be his daughter from a previous relationship that ended before his marriage. Needless to say, Zoe’s arrival throws everything way off balance and causes increasing friction in the marriage.

I love a good domestic suspense-thriller story. I feel like Caroline and David present a great depiction of a marriage-under-stress: something happened in the past and forgiveness has occurred — but not true forgiveness because the involved parties haven’t really moved on. There are still snide comments made by one person and there is a ton of guilt carried by the other person. Having an unexpected stressor (like a child you didn’t know you had) thrown into the mix just makes things that much more complicated.

It was quite interesting to watch and anticipate how this couple would respond: would they draw to one another and work through this new issue or would they resort to blame and being catty with one another, and would their family suffer more trauma? I feel like all of their actions drove the plot and rose the level of suspense for me. I also feel like having the perspectives of both Caroline and David helped to move the plot along at a great pace because they were coming at things from totally different angles.

Speaking of angles: I never knew who to trust in this story! Every character had at least a few secrets and nobody trusted anyone else. This level of distrust also added to the level of suspense and drove the plot for me. There were some neat twists added to the mix here and there, which is always fun. I never would have seen that ending in a million years.

In looking at the back of my book jacket, I see that the author Karen Perry is actually an author team: Karen Gillece and Paul Perry, from Dublin. Assuming is not always a good idea, but I would assume here that Karen wrote Caroline’s perspective and Paul wrote David’s perspective. (Someone correct me if I’m wrong!) Regardless of who wrote what part, the POV’s are super well-written, particularly for what these two are experiencing inside of their marriage. Caroline’s thoughts aren’t always the smartest or what I could consider the best, but they seem appropriate for what she has been through and what she is going through, and likewise for David. That really stuck out to me as I was reading and I appreciate the way these two characters related to each other as man and woman/husband and wife so much.

Girl Unknown by Karen Perry is well-written domestic suspense story that had quick pacing and a thrilling end. It made me a little bit uncomfortable while I was reading – not because of the writing, but because of how doggone uncertain I was about everything – and I loved that. I can imagine that nothing about this situation would be comfortable in real life, so I appreciated that feeling while I was reading and the end was a shocker for me.


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About Karen Perry

Karen Perry Author Image

Karen Perry is the pen name of Dublin-based authors Paul Perry and Karen Gillece.

Paul Perry is the author of a number of critically acclaimed books. A winner of The Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year Award, he is a writer and course director in poetry at the Faber Academy in Dublin.

Karen Gillece is the author of four critically acclaimed novels. In 2009 she won the European Union Prize for Literature (Ireland).


About Asheley

Asheley is a Southern girl. She loves Carolina blue skies, Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and NC craft beer. She loves all things history but prefers books over everything.

You can find her somewhere in North Carolina, daydreaming about the ocean.

Find Asheley on Litsy @intothehallofbooks!


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