Review: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel


United By Pop received a free copy of Amy Engel’s The Roanoke Girls in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are our own.

Title: The Roanoke Girls

Author: Amy Engel

Purchase: Available March 9th in the UK and March 7th the US.

Overall rating: 4/5

Great for: Mystery lovers, those who love twists and turns

Themes: Murder, mystery, disappearances, self-loathing, incest.

Review: We all think our families are dysfunctional, but that’s nothing compared to the Roanoke’s. Girls’ missing, freak accidents, secrets  – everything happens behind closed doors at the Roanoke estate in rural Kansas.

The first thing I have to mention before getting deep into this review is the cover. Hello, book porn. I’m a sucker for anything with flowers and this ripped, rose-entwined cover had me lusting after it as soon as it arrived.

The first Roanoke girl we’re introduced to is our main character, Lane. We join her as a fifteen-year-old who’s angry, depressed and relieved after her mother’s suicide. She goes to live with her maternal grandparents at the Roanoke estate where she meets her cousin, Allegra. Lane’s relationship with her mother was a difficult one, she blamed her for looking like her and didn’t tell her anything about her blood relatives.

The Roanoke family had dark secrets that go back generations… it’s no wonder that Lane’s mum ran away. It doesn’t take long for us to receive an explanation from the young Allegra regarding the fate of the Roanoke girls that came before them. Dead, missing, run away… if that doesn’t cause alarm bells to go off in your head immediately, you’re insane.

Without giving too much away, Lane and Allegra have quite the summer. Meeting boys, learning new things about each other and their surroundings but most importantly for Lane, the truth about the family she’s moved in with. Once Lane learns the horrific secrets of the Roanoke family, she has to leave. She pleads Allegra to come with her, but she refuses to leave Roanoke, why would she when she has everything she needs there?

Lane swore nothing would ever make her return to her families’ farm in Kansas, but 11 years later she gets a call from her grandad. Allegra is missing. Doubts suddenly start to pool around Lane – Allegra had tried to call her before, was she to blame for the disappearance?

This book had me gripped from start to finish, I had an inkling in the back of my mind what the twist to the story would be, but it was so dark I didn’t want it to be true! The Roanoke Girls is disturbing yet intelligent, it’s thought-provoking yet terrifying at the same time. Amy’s writing style flows easily and it enables you to keep track of character development. Most of the chapters are written in Lane’s perspective, but we’re also treated to the other Roanoke girls – past and present, too.

This isn’t a book for young readers, there are swear words, some graphic sexual scenes and it deals with a dark subject matter. For me, this was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, one of the main reasons being I have nothing to compare it to. In a world where we’re drenched with stories all in a similar vain, this dark and mysterious novel is exactly what I needed.

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