The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel
eBook review copy; 288 pages
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
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.
My review copy was courtesy of Crown/Archetype.