The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
Published 10th August 2017 by Hodder and Stoughton (information gathered from NetGalley)
Star Rating - ****.5
Goodreads Challenge - 48/50
Synopsis from GoodreadsVowing to discover the fate of her missing cousin, a woman returns to her family’s Kansas estate where she spent one haunting summer as a teen, and where she discovered the dark heart of the Roanoke clan that left her no choice but to run.
Lane Roanoke is fifteen when she comes to live with her maternal grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, at the Roanoke family estate in rural Osage Flats, Kansas, following the suicide of her mother. Lane knows little of her mother’s family, other than the fact that her mother ran away years before and cut off all contact with her parents. Allegra, abandoned by her own mother at birth and raised by her grandparents, introduces Lane to small-town life and the benefits of being one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But there is darkness at the heart of the Roanoke family, and when Lane discovers its insidious pull she has no choice but to run, as far and as fast as she can.
Eleven years later, Lane is scraping by in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls with the news that Allegra has gone missing. “Come home,” he beckons. Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to Osage Flats, determined to find her cousin and assuage her own guilt at having left Allegra behind all those years ago. Her return might mean a second chance with Cooper, the boyfriend whom she loved and destroyed that fateful summer. But it also means facing the terrible secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.
As it weaves between the summer of Lane’s first arrival and the summer of her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.
My ThoughtsThis book is darkly disturbing and full of forbidden love and twisted secrets that you wouldn't want to share even with the last person on earth. It is the story of Lane, a Roanoke girl, who ends up back at her ancestral home for one summer when she is 16. There she meets her Gran and Grandad and her cousin Allegra and learns just how dysfunctional her family really is. She leaves after that one summer but ends up back there after her Grandad calls about an incident and we see if she can survive Roanoke for a second time.
Amy Engel sets the tone of this book from the beginning. It was extremely atmospheric and I was completely gripped throughout. The whole book is written in first person and this to me felt like I was more immersed in the story. I felt I was experiencing everything alongside Lane rather than looking in. Her vivid descriptions of place and people helped and I was able to watch the story play out in my head. I also liked that the narrative was told across two timelines and how they both came together in a super climax at the end. I liked being able to see how the 'then' influenced the 'now' as we went along.
Amy also dropped a reveal on us quite early on in the story but I didn't mind this in the slightest. Things continued to build throughout the book and I always found myself saying just one more page. I needed to know how things played out. We got another reveal near the end of the book and I can honestly say I did not see either of them coming and as a reader of many thriller novels this is something I usually can't say.
We are introduced to the Roanoke family quite early on and then gradually receive more information throughout the story. The whole idea of Roanoke is toxic and it really does feel like the family has a curse hanging over them. Every character in this novel is flawed, they have both good and bad in them but this doesn't stop me from liking every character in this novel. As the story progresses you can see why many of the Roanoke girls want to leave the family home behind.
Although Lane only spent one summer at Roanoke you can see how the family legacy has affected her her whole life. I loved her relationship with Allegra it was a completely honest depiction of a close family relationship in my opinion with fights, arguments and reconciliations but with added extra dysfunctionality. There relationship felt very authentic.
This book have definite triggers for a variety of difficult issues I won't share them here because of spoilers but feel free to contact me if you want to know. However, I felt the author handled the issues extremely well. The feelings of each of the different parties felt very realistic and in my opinion, they were handled sensitively and they were not sensationalized in any way.
Overall I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a dark and gritty novel with a super gripping plot and unpredictable events.
I received this from NetGalley and these are my honest views and opinions. They are not influenced in any way.
Overall Rating (4.5)