Release Date-September 21st 2017
Genre- 288 pages
Kindle edition-Contemporary Thriller
Vowing 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 rating: 5 of 5 stars
This review may be a bit spoilery concerning the theme of this novel, this couldn’t be helped but I’ve tried to be as vague as possible.
“Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.”
These were the words that originally captivated me, pulling me in and compelling me to pick up The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel.
This was quite a read, an unusual one, reminiscent of bygone authors, setting a stage of intrigue, mystery and dysfunctional family dynamics.
The secrets surrounding Roanoke are subtlely revealed early on leaving the reader highly aware of what flows beneath the seemingly normal surface.
This is a definite page-turner despite the exploration of (view spoiler)[incestuous family relations. (hide spoiler)]
This tale is told in two parts “Now and Then” and the storyline seamlessly hops between these two timelines.
We also get to jump briefly into the heads of each Roanoke girl that came before, which I found very enlightening, I really loved this touch and it greatly added to the storyline giving the reader an insight into what each girl was feeling deep inside her own skin.
Jane, Sophia, Penelope, Eleanor, Camilla, Allegra, Lane there is also little Emmaline but she died of a crib death as a baby.
All Roanoke girls, all carrying the same secrets down through the years, messed up heads and lives affected tragically.
The echoes of this rebounding out through each new generation.
This story is told through Lane Roanoke’s point of view after her mother commits suicide and Lane comes to live with her Rich grandparents and cousin Allegra on the family estate.
This is the “THEN” portrayed in the narrative.
The “NOW” is Eleven years later when Lane returns to the family home after a frantic call from her granddad informing her that her cousin Allegra is missing.
After vowing never to return, Lane reluctantly returns home confronting secrets shes buried deep down inside.
I loved Lane as a character, she was a bit of a messed up headcase, but who can blame her.
It’s obvious Lane Loved Allegra so deeply and this was the only thing, I think, her disappearing, that could have dragged her back to the bowels of Roanoke.
It was also very thought-provoking to observe Lane’s former teenage toxic relationship with cooper rekindled as adults and I really did like him he had his own past baggage but really seemed to have evolved from this, unlike Lane.
I was so rooting for these two and I thought they made a great match, neither party having had it easy in life, they both deserved a bit of stability in the now.
Now Lanes connection with her grandad this was a strange one, confusing even I think to lane herself she really seemed to feel equal measures hate and love towards him.
Struggling with her mixed up emotions, greatly wanting to loathe him but feeling a strange pull, maybe because Lane feels he was the first person to actually seem to want and love her after enduring a lifetime of apathy from her mother.
As for the gran, well, What a cold selfish bitch she was.
I felt she herself held a huge role in what had been allowed to transpire, isn’t it a mothers job to protect her daughters.
In this Lillian Roanoke has failed epically actually blaming her daughters instead of shielding them, she was such a cold fish only seeming to feel any affection towards her twisted husband.
Turning a blind eye and looking the other way is her game.
Surprisingly she was my least favourite character even over Myles Roanoke himself.
I think it was the whole lack of maternal anything that contributed to my dislike of her immensely.
The Roanoke Girls has so many diverse flawed individuals that all do their part in making this an enthralling page-turner.
This is a portrayal of a family that is so not right and has not been for a very long time.
It is Love expressed so wrongly and out of context that it has become a sickness consuming from the inside out devouring till nothing remains standing.
A Dysfunctional family with dark concealed secrets at his core.
So I felt the author Amy Engel did an amazing job of dealing with such an explosive subject matter. she has handled it beautifully with finesse and a great understanding of such a delicate topic. Not everyone could have done this so sensitively and without sensationalising it so Really well done.
So that’s it from me folk’s, I could waffle on all day about this fascinating story, but I’m going to leave it here, but before I go a trigger warning The Roanoke Girls deals with themes of incest, but bar the one small kiss it is only referred to in words not actions and it is really not graphic in its content at all, but if this is a trigger for you please do avoid.
So all that’s left is for me to say Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and the author Amy Engel herself for providing me with an arc of The Roanoke Girls this is my own honest unbiased opinion.