Title: The Roanoke Girls
Author: Amy Engel
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 9th March 2017
Format: ARC e-Book
Note: This book was received from the publisher in return for an honest review
About the book:
A gripping, provocative thriller about the twisted secrets families keep, perfect for fans of The Girls. Beautiful. Rich. Mysterious. 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…
What I Thought:
I’m going to start with something that might be considered a spoiler but I think it’s important to mention something that’s not included in the blurb in case it’s a trigger for anyone. Sexual abuse is a core theme of this novel. So while I read this as a twisted thriller I can completely understand why some people would prefer to avoid this.
Having said this I really don’t want to give anything else away regarding the plot, other than what’s already in the blurb, which means this is going to be a bit of a mini-review. Don’t take this to mean I didn’t find the book well worth reading!
For me the book was a really interesting read, the narrative was split between Lane’s first arrival at Roanoke following her mother’s suicide and the present day, called back to Roanoke by her grandfather following the disappearance of her cousin Allegra. It’s clear that Lane didn’t have the best of childhoods, growing up with a mother who was clearly depressed and struggling to deal with her past, before finally committing suicide when Lane was in her mid teens. Lane is then sent to Kansas to live with her grandparents, where she meets her cousin Allegra for the first time and is also introduced to some of the local teenagers including Tommy and Cooper. The then and now sections feature many of the same characters and I really liked seeing them both as teenagers enjoying the summer and getting up to mischief in the park and then later in life, seeing the adults they had become. The Roanoke Girls also features short sections on each of the past Roanoke Girls, I found these to be great additions that I felt added to the horror of what was happening at Roanoke in the present day.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, I’m not sure given the subject matter I should describe it as an enjoyable read, it’s certainly quite dark, although none of the abuse is explicitly described. The Roanoke Girls is well written, the different points of view and periods of time covered are handled well, so for me they weren’t confusing. Although I had strong suspicions throughout the book Amy managed to keep me doubting myself until the reveal. I also really liked the ending, it was good to have something a little lighter and positive amongst all the darkness.