Everyone wants to be a Roanoke girl.
But you won’t when you know the truth.
Lane Roanoke is fifteen when she comes to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin at the Roanoke family’s rural estate following the suicide of her mother. Over one long, hot summer, Lane experiences the benefits of being one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls.
But what she doesn’t know is being a Roanoke girl carries a terrible legacy: either the girls run, or they die. For there is darkness at the heart of Roanoke, and when Lane discovers its insidious pull, she must make her choice…
A gripping, provocative thriller about the twisted secrets families keep.
This is going to be a hard book to review without giving away major spoilers but The Roanoke Girls is a book that I’m sure is going to divide readers, love it or hate it, it’s controversial, disturbing and makes for a very unsettling read. As the title suggests the plot centres around The Roanoke girls, these girls appear to have it all they are beautiful, rich and mysterious, and everyone wants to be part of the inner circle, where girls are treated like princesses, but beneath the facade lies a very different story. It’s one of a dysfunctional family like no other. The Roanoke Girls keep secrets so dark and unbelievably twisted, you can’t help but wonder how they’ve managed to stay hidden for so long.
The story is told through the eyes of Lane, a fifteen year old girl. On the death of her mother, she moves to Roanoke to live with her grandparents and cousin Allegra, but over one hot summer she realises there are some secrets she wants no part of and runs away. Ten years later, when her cousin goes missing, Lane returns to the family home searching for answers to her disappearance.The characters in this book aren’t particularly likeable they are flawed, complex and have very few endearing qualities, but they are credible, as you learn more about the girls life you realise the characters could not have been portrayed any other way.
Told in alternating chapters between past and present, there are also random chapters where the author reveals more about other generations of Roanoke girls which added a sense of foreboding to this haunting tale. Amy Engel takes a bold step and pretty much reveals the big family secret very early on in the book, which I wasn’t expecting, but she still manages to hold the reader’s interest until the very last page due to her unique story telling and captivating writing.
At times I found this book an uncomfortable and upsetting read due to the disturbing subject matter, but the author tackled the book with a certain amount of empathy, so that the plot remained bearable, and in the authors defences she writes in such away there are no particularly graphic scenes, it’s left to the readers imagination to fill in the blanks. Throughout The Roanoke Girls there is an sinister undercurrent that permeates every page of this well written novel. This book is being billed as a thriller but for me it read more like a mystery, although it really does have its moments – this isn’t an edge-of-your-seat hardcore thriller.
The Roanoke Girls is well worth a read, despite its subject matter this book has a hidden depth, it explores the complexity of love and relationships, and dysfunctional families with sensitivity. Although it feels wrong to say I enjoyed this book, it was a hard one to put down and I read it in one sitting.
Print Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (7 Mar. 2017)