When Zoe Barry walks into Professor David Connolly's office and announces that she is his daughter, he is left reeling. Suddenly his family - imperfect, flawed, but working - is trying to find space for someone new.
But Zoe's stories don't quite add up and lies become indistinguishable from truths. The family struggle to make sense of whether she is a sister, a daughter, a friend, an enemy. But no one could have expected where it all might end.
Because they have let into their home a girl that they do not know. And now everything they have built has begun to violently, determinedly, break apart.
The opening chapters really drew me in with its rosy view of academic life on campus. I felt really charmed by the descriptions and could imagine myself back at university in Queens studying History, attending lectures and reading Professor Connolly's work in Irish Economic and Social History, albeit by Professor Sean Connolly and not the Prof. David Connolly in Girl Unknown.
It's not long, however, before an air of menace and tension permeates the pages of the story as Zoe makes her existence known to the professor and wheedles her way into every facet of his life. His professional and family life slowly start to unravel the longer Zoe is involved. His wife is wary and unconvinced; she begins to suspect that Zoe may have nefarious intentions towards their family. As tension builds it isn't long before their whole world comes tumbling down around them.
I found the story so gripping because the nightmare situation they found themselves in was so believable and true to life. The tension, arguments and the relationships between the characters were so realistic. The characters weren't merely painted as black and white; good or bad. They're all so human and flawed. At different times throughout the book I felt sympathy, love and annoyance for most of the characters just as I would my own family or friends.
A truly intriguing, unpredictable and gripping read.
I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.