Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Roanoke Girls

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
Crown/Archetype: 3/7/17
eBook review copy; 288 pages
ISBN-13: 9781101906668

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel is a highly recommended, disturbing, creepy thriller.

After 15 year-old Lane Roanoke's mother commits suicide, Lane leaves NYC to live with her grandparents and cousin Allegra on their farm, named after the family, in rural Kansas by the small town of Osage Flats. All Lane knew about her grandparents was that her mother couldn't wait to leave and never went back. Once in Kansas, Lane learns that her grandparents are wealthy, but she also learns that the Roanoke girls seem to be prone to dying - or running away like her mother did. What she can't figure out is why her mother was so haunted by her life there. When she does discover the truth over the one summer she was there, she also runs.

Eleven years later Lane is living in Los Angeles when she gets a call from her grandfather telling her that Allegra has gone missing and Lane needs to come home. Lane does return to Roanoke to help search for Allegra and figure out what happened to her. Did she run or did something else happen. Lane certainly doesn't care about seeing her grandparents, and makes it quite clear. She even blurts out early on the big, dark secret hanging over the Roanokes, making it clear why she likely ran away. It's disgusting and the book slowly reveals the extent of the family secret. Lane also wonders about seeing her boyfriend from that summer, Cooper.

The narrative alternates between the past and the present. It follows Lane during her summer at Roanoke and then her return eleven years later to look for Allegra. It also goes back in time to reveal what happened to all the other Roanoke girls in the past. As I said, the shocking secret is revealed early in the book, so what you will be looking for are clues to Allegra's fate and more information and clarification about what has happened to all the other Roanoke girls.

Engel does an excellent job keeping the suspense and intrigue going, hooking you into the secrets of the past and present, as she slowly reveals more information. The novel is well-presented, in the writing, execution and the length. I was completely hooked in the story and never had a point in The Roanoke Girls where I thought the story was being stretched out. I read it in one sitting, which is the perfect way to read this page-turner. The ending is rather predictable, although it seems intentional as the focus is more on Lane's emotional state and her search for the reason for Allegra's disappearance.

The biggest drawback to The Roanoke Girls is the subject matter. The subject matter is repulsive and will always be disgusting. Additionally, Lane's self-loathing can be difficult to relate to. In the end, however, Engels pulls it all together, reveals all the secrets, and there is closure.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Crown/Archetype.

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