Tuesday, 21 February 2017

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

Book Review

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

"Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die."

The Roanoke Girls will be released on 9th March. It is written by Amy Engel and published by Hodder & Stoughton.

The Roanoke Girls is garnering a lot of attention, both for its subject matter and excellent writing. Yes, this is a disturbing book, but, unlike a lot of books that deal with taboo subjects, The Roanoke Girls doesn't shove it in your face but lets the story unfold slowly in all its disturbing glory. I was thoroughly hooked, wanting to keep reading while also having my skin crawl, a weird feeling.



The Roanoke girls seem to have it all. But there's a dark truth about them which is never spoken. Every girl either runs away or dies.

Lane is one of the lucky ones. When she was fifteen, over one long, hot summer at her grandparents' estate in rural Kansas, she found out what it means to be a Roanoke girl. Lane ran, far and fast. Until eleven years later, when her cousin Allegra goes missing - and Lane has no choice but to go back.

She is a Roanoke girl.

Is she strong enough to escape a second time?

The Roanoke Girls is a bit of a strange one as it reveals the big disturbing secret pretty early on. Then the main mystery is what happened to Allegra and exactly why Lane left Roanoke the first time. You might think the tension would be gone, but it actually works really well;it's a really well measured book.

I love a story of family secrets, and this is about as dysfunctional and disturbing a family as you can get. I love the way the story is told, going between Lane now and when she was a teenager at Roanoke. The stories of the other Roanoke girls are also threaded through the narrative, and Engel gets the timing perfect, gradually revealing history at the crucial time.

I really liked Allegra's character, she was both lovable and irritating and so clearly disturbed. All the characters are well written. Lane is someone I really engaged with, and I liked that she had a dark streak that she tries to battle.

There are a lot of characters though and I did sometimes get confused with all the Roanoke girls and where they were in the family. Luckily, there is a family tree at the front of the book, which I did keep having to check.

The book is set in Kansas and Engel really brings alive the summer heat of the place. She writes some lovely descriptions.

"I could feel the sun pushing between my shoulder blades like a slab of brick, oozing down my spine and slipping over my sides like a molten blanket."

I would have probably given The Roanoke Girls 5 stars if it wasn't for the disturbing factor, I know this is obviously what makes it a good read too, but I really only give 5 stars to books I love, and I don't think I loved this one. Also, I did guess a couple of plot points, which isn't always a bad thing, but there weren't really any major shock moments.

However, The Roanoke Girls was a mesmerising read and one of the best new releases I've read this year.

My Rating: 4/5

Who else has read The Roanoke Girls? I'd love to know what you think.

I received a digital copy of the book via NetGalley in return for an honest review. My thanks to the author and publisher.

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